MHRMC Condemns Defamation of Ethnic Macedonians
on Bulgarian National Television
March 13, 2005
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada (MHRMC) condemns the recent defamation and ridicule of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Bulgaria by two of the national television stations: Bulgarian TV (BTV - www.btv.bg) and Bulgarian National Television (BNT - www.bnt.bg).
On March 6th 2005, on the weekly show "Sblusuk" (Conflict), www.sblusuk.com, which airs every Sunday at 9:00 on Bulgarian Television, the theme of debate was "Do the Macedonian language and nation really exist".
This highly nationalistic and racist topic had been previously debated on the show on January 27th, 2002, with the sole intention being to "prove" that Macedonians do not exist and that they are in fact Bulgarians. In front of a cheering and applauding studio audience, the 2002 episode set a new low for publicly sanctioned racism, xenophobia and intolerance toward the Macedonian minority of Bulgaria.
Remarkably, the recent 2005 episode was worse. One side of the debate - supported by Nikola Georgiev, a Bulgarian TV host and Nikolai Knchev, vice-president of the Ultra-Nationalist Bulgarian VMRO party - argued that Macedonians do not exist and that they are really Bulgarians and on the other side - supported by Christian Bankov, a Doctor of Philosophy and Aleksandar Dimitrov, a student - there was a general consensus that Macedonians were previously Bulgarians but it is possible that they can now exist as Macedonians and that this should be accepted.
Regardless, the main conclusion derived from the show was that there are only two types of "Macedonians": those who are illiterate and those who are "professional Macedonians", ie. Serbian agents who say they are Macedonian in order to save their pay.
Moreover, the show went on to argue that the Republic of Macedonia does not have an ounce of democracy in it, maintaining that students in Macedonia have been physically mistreated by the police for declaring themselves as Bulgarians. They also accused Macedonia of not being democratic enough to host a talk-show similar to theirs - i.e. A show whose sole purpose is to espouse national ideology at the expense of its ethnic minorities.
The episode also went on to note some statistics, stating that "between the two World Wars 170.000 Bulgarians were killed in Macedonia - 30.000 during WWII - for fighting to join Macedonia to their fatherland Bulgaria". This is not only factually incorrect, but there was also no mention of the Macedonian position and Macedonian activists and members of the large ethnic Macedonian minority in Bulgaria were not asked to appear on the show.
At the end of January of this year, on the weekly show "Every Sunday", - which airs every Sunday at 5:30pm on Bulgarian National Television - the topic of debate was whether or not the Macedonian language should be used in schools and on TV within the Republic of Bulgaria.
Though it was obvious that the underlying arguments put forth by the show's host, Kevork Kevorkian, promoted the usual Bulgarian nationalist hard-line: that Macedonians do not exist and that their language is a dialect of Bulgarian, the show was particularly bad in this instance because of its inability to present the other side of the argument, namely to allow members of the sizable Macedonian minority in Bulgaria as well as Macedonian activists in Bulgaria to voice their opinion.
Instead, the program showcased a fervent, anti-Macedonian, Greek nationalist named Christopher Tzavela, who ranted about how Macedonians do not exist and how their language should never be allowed on television and in schools.
OMO Pirin, the political party of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, sent a letter to the show expressing their views, however, they were not allowed equal time.
The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada denounces the above rhetoric by the Bulgarian media and is appalled that these state-sanctioned abuses take place in a country that is set to enter the European Union. The MHRMC calls on the international community, and specifically the European Union, to apply pressure on Bulgaria to immediately recognize its large Macedonian minority and grant it the human rights that it is guaranteed by all international human rights conventions. Moreover, the MHRMC calls on the European Union to make Bulgaria's accession to the European Union explicitly conditional on its recognition of its Macedonian minority.
The MHRMC also asks the international conglomerate, News Corporation, which owns 100% of BTV and which also owns Fox, Direct TV and many other media outlets, to carry out its own investigation in regards to the portrayal of minorities - especially the ethnic Macedonians - on BTV in Bulgaria and remind it that its assets should not be used for open and public defamation of minorities in foreign countries.
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Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
P.O. Box 44532, 2376 Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto, Canada M1K 5K3
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