Strasbourg Seeks Recognition of Macedonians in Bulgaria Again

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) last week released the fifth report on Bulgaria, which, among other things, urged Sofia again to recognize the Macedonian minority and to guarantee its rights, reads daily Dnevnik.

ECRI report concludes that in the period between reports, Bulgaria showed some progress, but many important issues remained unresolved, as the climate of intolerance and xenophobia. As pointed out by ECRI, the treatment of Roma and the large number of Roma children dropping out of school are some of the issues that need to be solved. 

Stojko Stojkov, one of the leaders of the unregistered Party of Macedonians OMO "Ilinden" - Pirin, said it was good that the report highlighted the problems Macedonians have been facing. 

"The report requires recognition of the Macedonians and Pomaks, and we hope that after this report, Bulgaria will finally grasp the fundamental essence of the problem", says Stojkov for Dnevnik daily.

In previous reports, ECRI has been pointing out the problem related to recognizing the Macedonian minority, and such recommendations have been given by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, as well as by the independent UN expert Gay McDougall, but so far Sofia have tried in every way to put the Macedonian issue 'under the carpet'. Macedonians do not have their own registered political party, but also cannot register an NGO that contains the prefix "Macedonian", which confirms that the Bulgarian state has not fully implemented the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been recommended by the ECRI.

Another moral victory

"The human rights institutions have won another moral victory. But, that is all about it. No instruments can get Bulgaria to apply the conventions. But the battle continues, and preparations are underway as to register a civic association, and to see how this new attempt will pass", added Stojkov.

Although ECRI cites positive trends, as it is the one for amendments to the Criminal Code, it still notes that hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation is not sanctioned.

"Intolerant and racist hate speech in politics is growing, and now the main target are the refugees. Many ultra-nationalist / fascist groups and political parties have been acting in Bulgaria, and such party is represented in the parliament, "the report said, meaning the party ATAKA.

The ECRI regrets that despite the attempt by the judicial authorities to sanction that party, or to revoke its court registration, it has not happened yet.

Extremists living on state money     

Intolerant and racist hate speech in politics continues to be a serious problem in Bulgaria, and the condition gets worse, notes ECRI.

Main goals of racist hate speech are the Roma, Muslims, Jews, Turks and Macedonians. Much of the problem lies in the parliamentary party ATAKA.

"On the other hand, several smaller ultranationalist political parties and groups have been operating in Bulgaria, including the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO-BND) and the Bulgarian National Union (BPU). ECRI is deeply concerned that easy official recognition is awarded to the extremes parties along with the possibility to receive state subsidies.

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