"During 2021 the situation of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria worsened due to the aggravation in relations with the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgarian attempts to force Skopje to renounce the existence of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and the media campaign conducted in Bulgaria in that regard. A climate of intolerance reigns in society against Macedonians and they are the object of hate speech, which is often given wide exposure through the media without being sanctioned by the institutions of the state and without encountering any condemnation by the wider society." - Excerpt from the annual report. Full report below.
As consistently reported by Macedonian Human Rights Movement International, EU and NATO member-states are not only permitted to commit human rights violations against their ethnic minorities, in the case of Bulgaria and Greece, they are encouraged and enabled to do so against their Macedonian minorities. The EU and NATO joined both countries in demanding that the Republic of Macedonia change its name, identity and history to appease Bulgaria and Greece's publicly celebrated goals of denying the existence of the large Macedonian minorities within their borders.
MHRMI and the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria demand that the EU and NATO condemn the implementation of the anti-Macedonian treaties with Bulgaria and Greece, denounce both member-states for their gross violation of Macedonians' rights, and finally enforce the human rights conventions to which both countries are signatories.
ANNUAL REPORT ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION OF THE MACEDONIAN MINORITY IN BULGARIA – 2021
2021:14 years since Bulgaria became a member of the European Union, 31 years since it became a democracy, 58 years since the beginning of the policy of denial, assimilation and discrimination of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.
Introduction: Situation of the Macedonian Minority and More Important Developments in 2021
Denial of the Macedonian Minority, Nation, and Identity
Violation of the Right of Association
Harassment of Macedonian activists
The census conducted in Bulgaria in September - October 2021
Refusal of the Authorities to Engage in Dialogue
Conclusions and Recommendations
Situation of the Macedonian Minority in Bulgaria in 2021
During 2021 the situation of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria worsened due to the aggravation in relations with the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgarian attempts to force Skopje to renounce the existence of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and the media campaign conducted in Bulgaria in that regard.
None of the rights stipulated in the Framework Convention on National Minority Rights have been granted to the Macedonian minority. In schools children do not learn anything about the Macedonian minority and nation; on the contrary they are provided with information which not just omits any mention of the Macedonian nation and minority, but also renders impossible its mere existence. The Macedonian literary language and history continue to not be taught. On television and in the media, there is a continuous and multifaceted presentation of the view that there is no Macedonian nation and that everything Macedonian is Bulgarian. The Macedonian point of view is not included in lectures and discussions about history. Macedonian consciousness itself (“Macedonianism“ as it is labelled in Bulgaria) is looked upon as an artificial anti-Bulgarian ideology. Macedonian consciousness (and also the Macedonian nation as a whole) in Bulgaria is considered to be a product of a communist experiment or the result of hostile foreign propaganda. A climate of intolerance reigns in society against Macedonians and they are the object of hate speech, which is often given wide exposure through the media without being sanctioned by the institutions of the state and without encountering any condemnation by the wider society.
By taking advantage of the artificially created atmosphere of intolerance, the Bulgarian state successfully keeps representatives of the minority isolated from political and social life in the country-both individually and collectively (by not registering Macedonian parties and organisations).
During 2021 the Bulgarian state did not take any measures to improve the situation of the Macedonian minority. On the contrary, it made efforts to prevent the recognition of a Macedonian minority.
Macedonians are not represented in state institutions, by elected representatives (due to the lack of a registered political party) or by organisations. Not one of the registered parties in Bulgaria defends the rights of the Macedonians in Bulgaria. Representatives from across society, with the exception of a small section of civil society, treat Macedonians as non-existent and ignore the problems they face. There are no (and there have not been) any Macedonian representatives on the Commission on Minorities. When ethnic groups in Bulgaria are officially spoken and written about, Macedonians are not mentioned at all and Macedonian culture, language and history are not represented in any government publication or official web site. Macedonians are not included in any programs concerning ethnic communities and do not receive any type of assistance from the state for the preservation and development of their culture and identity.
This year as well neither the Commission Against Discrimination, nor any other organisation adopted an official stance regarding the situation of the Macedonians in Bulgaria, despite the fact that the number of judgements against Bulgaria at the European Court of Human Rights has risen to 14. In 31 years of democracy not one Bulgarian official institution has done so.
Despite the large number of recommendations by international bodies, Bulgarian authorities persistently continue to refuse to enter into a dialogue with the Macedonian minority.
The Republic of Bulgaria has made a concerted effort to make the raising of this issue within the European Union impossible.
More Important Events During the Year
On 21 May and 16 June 2021, the provisional Bulgarian government affirmed the view that one of the conditions for Macedonia's integration into European structures was the renunciation by Macedonia of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.
The Committee of Ministers at its session held between 7 and 9 June adopted its previous decision on the refusal of Bulgaria to register Macedonian organisations; namely, “it expressed deep concern at the fact that more than 15 years after its first judgement in this group of judgements, associations aiming to “achieve the recognition of the Macedonian minority” are routinely refused registration and this seems partly due to a larger problem of disapproval of their goals”. It once again called for arguments which had been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to not be used again.
On 20 July the Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination for the first-time initiated proceedings against the discrimination perpetrated against the Macedonians by Bulgarian politicians by determining that the complaint lodged by Macedonian organisations was “admissible”.
In September and October in Bulgaria was held a population census. It was conducted in an extraordinarily unprofessional manner, which casts serious doubt on its still not published results, at least about Macedonian minority.
On 22 October 2021 the Bulgarian government responded to the Fifth Report of the Consultative Committee of the Framework Convention for the protection of National Minorities regarding its visit to Bulgaria. Despite the serious concern expressed by the Committee regarding the violation of the rights of the Macedonians in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Government completely ignored all criticisms levelled against it. It did not comment on or mention the Macedonian minority at all in its response, even in the context of the measures which it has still not adopted for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the preceding Fourth Report in keeping with articles 2 and 7 of the Convention, in relation to which the Committee has regularly expressed its serious concern.
At the end of October 2021, after a question posed by Claudia Teni to Gabriel Escobar, US Deputy Assistant State Secretary and Special Representative on the Western Balkans in one of the sub-commissions on foreign affairs in the House of Representatives of the USA about the situation of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, there was a hysterical reaction in Bulgaria whereby the very existence of the Macedonian minority was denied and every word in defence of that minority interpreted as an attack on Bulgaria.
On 4 November 2021 an interview with Krassimir Kanev, President of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), in which he objectively described the attitude towards the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, was broadcast on Channel 5 in the Republic of Macedonia. A veritable campaign was initiated against Kanev in the Bulgarian media, The VMRO BND party submitted a complaint against Kanev to the public prosecutor's office and the State Agency for National Security on the grounds that “Kanev's and the BHC's words and corresponding actions were directed against the territorial integrity of the country and were contrary to the Bulgarian Constitution, fostered separatist tendencies, attitudes and actions” and “lodged a request that Kanev and the BHC and its members and officials be investigated for statements and actions directed against the territorial integrity of the country and the established legal order.” They also insisted that there be “an investigation into the financing of the BHC, as well as its anti-Bulgarian activities”.
The issue of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, as in the previous year, was raised in the Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights at the European Parliament. The reaction of Bulgarian MEP’s was ferocious.
In November a study of the Macedonian media during the period 2019-2021 was published by Bulgarian academics from the Foundation for Humanitarian and Social Research. This study established that there was no hate speech in the Macedonian media before the Bulgarian veto against Macedonia. Unfortunately, a study into hate speech directed against Macedonia, Macedonians and the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria has never been undertaken.
September-November 2021. The Bulgarian President, two Bulgarian Premiers, The Commission on Minorities, the Ministers for Education, Justice and other institutions did not agree to the requests made by various Macedonian organisations for meetings.
On 25 November a meeting was held for the first time with the President of the Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination, however the results of this meeting were negative (see below)
On 3 December the Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination attempted to strike out the complaint lodged by Macedonian organizations which had earlier been accepted, by disputing its admissibility. The matter is at present still pending.
DENIAL OF THE MACEDONIAN MINORITY, NATION, AND IDENTITY
From 1963 onwards the denial of the existence of the Macedonian minority has been an official state policy and doctrine. On 29/2/2000 the Constitutional Court promoted such a policy in its own Judgement No 1 which banned OMO “Ilinden”-PIRIN and since then that has been one of the main grounds and arguments used to violate the right of association of the Macedonians which moreover this year developed into an official judicial practice and norm (see below). In 2019 and 2020 that was converted into an official condition to be satisfied for the integration into European structures of the Republic of Macedonia and one of the reasons for the blocking of negotiations regarding Macedonia's membership of the EU. On 21 May and 16 June 2021, the caretaker government in Bulgaria affirmed the position that one of the conditions for the integration into European structures of the Republic of Macedonia was that Macedonia renounce the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria
The denial not only of the Macedonian minority, but in principle the denial of the existence of minorities in the country has been considered to be an argument for the non-registration of minority organisations, which are considered to be directed against the territorial integrity of the country, not only by the courts but by political parties as well: ”It has been a persistent judicial practice of Bulgarian courts to not register so-called associations of Macedonians in Bulgaria, having regard to the fact that there are no minorities in Bulgaria and whereby the right of association cannot be directed against the territorial integrity of the country”. Requests for the recognition of minorities are considered to be “openly separatist theses”. 
This attitude is particularly apparent in relation to the reactions to the requests for the recognition of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.
On 31 March 2021 the NFSB Party (belonging to the governing coalition) put out an official statement against the US State Department's Annual Report on Human Rights in Bulgaria in which the following was stated: ”It is imperatively insisted upon that Bulgaria recognises the existence of a “Macedonian minority”. We sharply reject this and state: The Bulgarian people will not betray its national memory and history and will not make any concession regarding the matter of Macedonia. Bulgaria borders on each of its borders with its own countrymen”.
On 30 October 2021 the president of VMRO Krassimir Karakachanov officially stated his view that “there is no Macedonian minority in Bulgaria” VMRO views the request for the recognition of the Macedonian minority “as categorically... anti-Bulgarian in nature and contrary to the established state order... they foster anti-state tendencies and on the other hand serve the foreign, irredentist tendencies of Macedonianism in Skopje. We view every attempt for the fabrication of a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria as a hostile act against our people and state as an open, anti-Bulgarian policy, directed against the interests of the Bulgarian people“.
There was a series of hostile reactions by Bulgarian Euro MPs in relation to the raising of the question of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria in the European Parliament. On 30 November Emil Radev stated as follows:” There is no Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and that is a view about which we cannot entertain any compromises and I expect that all Bulgarian colleagues in the European Parliament will unanimously defend that … the slightest playing around with this topic.... is contrary to the truth and in essence represents an unfair and tendentious attack on our country. The interpretations of this topic, to put it mildly, are in contradiction to European values and have no place in debates on the rule of law in the EU”."We cannot accept that non-existent terms such as the so-called ‘Macedonian minority’ be used to apply pressure to Bulgaria in relation to reforms in the justice system in our country or in relation to the negotiating process engaged in by North Macedonia for EU membership.” In the very raising of the question he identified “double standards towards our country” by means of which “new problems are created”.
Another Bulgarian Euro MP, Angel Dzhambaski, stated as follows: “Such a minority does not exist in Bulgaria and that is a topic about which there cannot be two opinions”, the posing of this question is “ a disgraceful suggestion”, by means of which “the European Parliament is attempting to impose Comintern theses regarding a ‘Macedonian minority’ in Bulgaria.... All flirtations with the issue of the minority, emanating from a high European level are equivalent to lies and manipulations and even a deliberate attack on our country”. He qualified them as “mindless attempts for the creation of something artificial... it mocks Bulgarian culture and the sovereignty of our country”.
The language used to describe Macedonians and their identity by the political and academic elite continues to be radical: For example, the former Minister for Culture, Petur Stoyanovich, stated that “North Macedonia is an accidentally created state, nation and language”, while Professor Ovcharov could not see whatever need for Bulgaria to make any compromise regarding its demands; namely that “the term ‘Macedonian language’ should not figure anywhere in official EU documents” and “renunciation by Macedonia of support for the Macedonian minority and the demand that it be recognised in the Republic of Bulgaria”.
The hardline determination of the state to ignore the problems of the Macedonian minority and to act as if it does not exist is clearly apparent from the categorical refusal to comment on any criticisms and recommendations on that matter contained in the Reports of the Consultative Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
Even though during 2021 hate speech was redirected more towards the Macedonian nation and identity in general rather than specifically towards the Macedonian minority, it remained at a significantly high level.
The denial of the Macedonian minority is the basis for the hate speech to which the Macedonian minority is subjected. Without such denial all other accusations levelled against it would not be possible. Accusations levelled against Macedonians, namely that they are anti-Bulgarian elements, traitors, apostates, foreign agents, enemies of the nation, a threat to its unity and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, are based explicitly on the notion that such a minority does not exist and claims to the contrary are able to be interpreted only as a hostile act and betrayal of the state and nation.
The treating of Macedonians as separatists and enemies of the state undoubtedly sows hatred towards them amongst the majority of citizens.
One of the means employed for imposing stereotypes about the Macedonians is the use of terms designed to denigrate the Macedonian nation, minority, identity and right to self-determination. In order to achieve this goal, instead of correct terms being used, those such as “Macedonianism”, “Macedonists” and other similar ones are employed, suggesting that in this case one is not dealing with matters of ethnic affinity, self-determination and identity, but rather an artificial ideology and those who adopt it. However, often that is not found to be sufficient such that these concepts have to be imbued with a greater number of even more negative connotations.
”Macedoniansm“ is considered to be anti-Bulgarianism.
On 22 June 2021, Martin Minkov, long-standing correspondent of BNP in Skopje stated: ”Macedonianism as an ideology upon which the national identity on the other side of the border has been built, constructed and bred, is a synonym for anti-Bulgarianism. It is good to know that”.
Metodii Ivanov in the text “Requiem for Macedonianism” of 24 March 2021 accused “Macedonianism“ of being “lies and falsifications” and “repression of Macedonian Bulgarians” claiming that “we already possess two silver bullets with which to cut down the vampire-like ghost of Macedonianism”.
Even liberal experts do not see any problem in confronting “Macedonianism“ or “Macedonist ideology”, but only lament that this has been transformed into a problem with Macedonia on an interstate level. Andrey Vrapchev, an expert on international security, on the program “Business Start”, broadcast on 17 June 2021 and compared by Hristo Nikolov stated: “we have entered into conflict with the people and between peoples, not into conflict with this ideology, Macedonianist’s, that is the main problem”.
Each and every positive development or internal intervention in defence of the Macedonian minority is taken to be an insult and support for (objectively non-existent) separatism, while the very actions of the Macedonians in defence of their rights are considered to be ill-intentioned and inspired by hatred towards Bulgaria and Bulgarians.
On 12 March 2021 “Fakti” published a text in which it was claimed that “the noise being made about ‘OMO Ilinden’.... is of a low standard and harms the region's democratic development.....Macedonists, Omoists and Alexander Macedonists in the event that they look at Catalonia will grasp that they are tilting at windmills” and that Soros has given money for anti-Bulgarian goals and ”precisely those funds come into the possessionn of the Macedonists, whose heads are filled with unattainable projects relating to autonomy”, unjustifiably giving the impression that Macedonians in Bulgaria have separatist goals. Further on it was claimed that the Macedonians in Bulgaria “in order for them to keep operating on that basis, consider it vital to reject the Bulgarian language, to denigrate Bulgarian ethnicity and to foster the hostility created by Tito against Bulgaria.”.
This hate takes on the appearance of a public denigration of the Macedonians. On 15 September 2021 the Bulgarian Euro MP Angel Dzhambaski on Radio Fokus called people with a Macedonian consciousness; “a little group comprising a few remaining drunken degenerates in Pirin Macedonia, who have been converted by the former Yugoslav secret services and who identify differently to the Bulgarian way of doing so and who have five teeth between them out of a total of 10 persons”
Such hate speech is not opposed or condemned but is rather accepted as normal and correct. There are no effective tools and remedies to counter such hate speech.
VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION
On 7-9 June 2021 the Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution H46/9 which bound Bulgaria to develop clear criteria for the registration of organisations. The decision was the most recent in line with the increased monitoring of the Republic of Bulgaria due to its refusal on several occasions to register organisations of Bulgarian citizens with a Macedonian consciousness. Despite that, new instances of such refusals ensued, while to date such criteria have not been developed.
The argumentation used in cases of such refusals has been discussed and condemned on several occasions in the ECHR and the Committee of Ministers and it has been indicated to the Bulgarian government several times that it should cease employing such argumentation. The basic contention made is that a Macedonian ethnicity does not exist and that to speak of the existence of a Macedonian minority constitutes an activity directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and the unity of the nation, despite the fact that the Macedonian minority had in the past been officially recognised and had enjoyed its rights. A second reason is the interpretation of the fact that the organisations in question have as their primary goal the defence of the interests and rights of people belonging to the corresponding ethnicity (Macedonian), which is a violation of the principle of equality amongst citizens and accordingly is directed against the rights and interests of remaining citizens. A third approach used is to misrepresent the classification of the goals of the organization by each time claiming that they differ from those that they should be and that the Macedonian organizations should have tried to seek registration on other grounds; namely, if they claim to be a political party, they should rather be treated as an NGO, or if they are organizations with a socially beneficial purpose, then their goals are those of a political party and if they are organizations for private benefit, then they should be registered as ones having a socially beneficial purpose. A similar approach is taken regarding the way in which an organization is funded;if additional means of funding are provided for,then that is impermissible and if it is not provided for, then that represents a fatal omission. Lastly, formal grounds are employed which often contain factually untrue claims. Moreover, despite the fact that Strasbourg has on several occasions criticised such an approach and made appropriate recommendations, the Agency for Registrations refuses to recommend that course of action or provide an opportunity to correct “formal errors” as prescribed by law and issues direct refusals.
This year some new aspects were added to the practices adopted by the Bulgarian courts against the organisations of the Macedonians:
1. A prohibition on Macedonian activists to have as a goal a change in state policies relating to minorities by treating that as “imposing an obligation on the state” and a ground for refusing registration.
2. Requests that are generally treated by the court as unconstitutional and dangerous to the unity of the nation (such as any allegation that there is a Macedonian minority and any request to protect its interests or identity) are now also treated as "irregularities" in the documentation of the organization that makes registration impossible If an organisation seeks registration for a first time these claims are treated as impossible to be corrected and a basis for refusal, whereas if registration is being sought again, they are looked upon as “irregularities” which have not been corrected and form the basis of a compulsory refusal.
3. Punishment of Macedonian organisations which appeal the decisions of the Agency for Registrations by forcing them to pay the Agency the costs for “legal consulting services”.
ОМО „Ilinden“ is an organisation which has not been able to obtain registration for 30 years, despite a series of judgements by the ECHR and decisions by the Committee of Ministers in its favour. Its further attempts to obtain registration have also been rejected. After the Sofia Appellate Court on 11 December 2020 affirmed the decision to reject the registration of the organisation, it once again lodged new documents for registration on 2 April 2021 and on 5 April 2021 was once again rejected by the Agency for Registrations in Decision No 20210402092913/05/04/2021г. The following grounds were advanced for this decision: the goals of the organisation were assessed to be those pertaining to an organisation for the benefit of society rather than those relating to organisations for private benefit, without concrete arguments being provided and contrary to the obligations given to the Committee of Ministers that the misuse of such arguments be discontinued. It was claimed that “in the association's constitution the objectives of the association have been replaced by obligations relating to the state”, which means that in making such a claim the right of whichever organisation to work towards a change of whichever official state policy is suspended. The court pointed to formal administrative flaws, including ones which were non-existent and not true or others which are not illegal, and which have not prevented the registration of hundreds of organisations. As per traditional practice, no opportunity was provided for the correction of formal administrative errors.
The organisation appealed the decision to refuse registration at the Blagoevgrad District Court and on 29 May this court affirmed the Agency's decision to refuse in Judgement No 29, brought down by Judge Miglena Yovkova. The court rejected part of the formal criticisms made by the Agency, but supported others contrary to judicial practice in Bulgaria, and the existence of hundreds of organisations registered on similar grounds. The court also accepted without argumentation that the objectives of the organisation are those belonging to an organisation for societal and not private benefit. On 7 June the organisation lodged an appeal at the Sofia Appellate Court.
On 18 August the Sofia Appellate Court presided over by Lyudmila Tsolova issued Judgement No 544 which affirmed the rejection of the application for registration. The court found that “the court is obliged to carry out an assessment of the contents of the constitution, without formally limiting itself to the objectives set out therein and the means for their achievement, in that only in this way can the true will of the founders of the organisation be revealed which cannot be in contradiction to the law” (page 2). In so doing the court continued the tradition of ascribing to Macedonian organisations non-existent and undeclared goals which facilitate the rejection of applications for registration.
The court pointed to the different goals of the organisation- namely, to defend the interests of the members of the Macedonian minority, their culture and identity, while creating “the impression of the presence of a minority Macedonian ethnicity on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria which has been deprived of its rights or whose rights have been undermined, thus standing opposed to the remaining part of Bulgarian citizenry and those who have suffered repression by the state, for which reason the founding of the association with such objectives leads towards creating division in the nation and the preconditions for ethnic confrontation, which is in contradiction to the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria”. On that basis the court considered that the case fell under the exclusions prescribed in paragraph 2, Article 11 of the Convention for the Defence of Human Rights (page 3), despite the fact that Bulgaria has been convicted on several occasions by the ECHR for failing to register the organisation. The ECHR's judgements clearly indicate that such cases do not fall under the above-mentioned exclusions and represent a direct violation of human rights.
The organisation lodged a new application for registration on 16 November 2021. On 17 November 2021 the Agency for Registrations refused the registration in Decision No 20211116143951/17/11/2021.The first argument used to deny registration was that the goals of the organisation “impose obligations on the state, which is inadmissible and consequently does not allow registration”. Namely the Agency view as such the following: “the Macedonian language and history to be introduced at primary and secondary levels of education in Bulgaria, in accordance with the Convention on the Fight against Discrimination in the field of education, that Bulgaria ensures the direct broadcast of radio and television programs in the Macedonian language from the Republic of Macedonia, that the Macedonians in Bulgaria have access to the Bulgarian press, radio and television”. This represented a new type of argumentation which in practice forbids Macedonian activists from having as their goal a change in state policy in relation to minorities. Secondly, that these goals are not appropriate for organisations set up for private beneficial goals but instead for organisation for socially beneficial goals. Thirdly, once again there was a repetition of the false statement that the organisation has been formed on an ethnic basis. Fourthly, ”the Association is oriented towards a specific group of people, whose members are citizens of the state and possess distinct religious, linguistic, cultural and other characteristics which distinguishes them from the majority of the population. This is namely why the highlighting of such a minority via the formation of an organisation-an association with non-economic goals whose intention is to meet their specific needs, in essence, does not aim to protect their rights, in that those rights do not differ from those of other citizens... and as such is directed towards the unity of the nation.“
The refusal was appealed against at the District Court of Blagoevgrad which on 1 December 2021 issued Judgement No 77 made by Judge Atanas Ivanov. The main argument of the Organisation was “that the Agency for Registrations has advanced discriminatory considerations for the refusal which are not in keeping with the law. It was pointed out that the refusal was based on discrimination since it was based on the ethnic identity of the founders and the associated with this goals of the association - protection of the rights of the Macedonians in Bulgaria.“
The Court found that organisation indicated in its constitution “seven objectives, which are connected to the protection of the rights of a Macedonian minority” which “are not in keeping with the law”. Subsequently, the court posed itself the following question ”is there a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and is a Macedonian national identity recognised by the Republic of Bulgaria in order for it to be accepted that these objectives do not threaten national and social security”. The court found that “the right of association is an inalienable human right, but not when it threatens the social order in the country” and also that “part of the objectives were not clearly formulated and are liable to be interpreted ambiguously”, in addition to the fact that “obligations are being imposed on the State - the Republic of Bulgaria, which is completely inadmissible and which moreover in essence cannot be specified as an objective of the association.” The refusal was thereby confirmed.
Association of Repressed Macedonians in Bulgaria, Victims of Communist Terror.
On 28 May 2020 the Association took Bulgaria to the ECHR because of the refusal of its applications for registration and lodged an application with the Agency for Registrations in which it referred precisely to this matter, however it received another refusal at the end of the year based on grounds which have been criticised on several occasions by the ECHR and Committee of Ministers, including namely that the goals are those belonging to a political party, that the objective was not association of all those who had been repressed, but only those persons with a Macedonian consciousness, despite the fact that they had been convicted precisely because of that very consciousness. The refusal of registration was appealed against at the Blagoevgrad District Court.
On 21 January 2021 the Blagoevgrad Court in Judgement No 6/21/01/2021 made by Judge Nikolay Gruncharov, affirmed the decision of the Agency for Registrations to refuse registration. The court found that the objectives of the Association “namely, the defence of the rights and legal interests of Macedonians repressed during the time of the communist regime due to their Macedonian consciousness and self-determination, as well as their activities in defence of the rights and freedoms of Macedonians in Bulgaria “, “the preservation and popularisation of Macedonian cultural heritage”,”the conservation, restoration and building of monuments connected with a Macedonian past and heritage “ (in which case the court stressed in italics all those instances when something Macedonian was mentioned!) „are categorically in contradiction to the provisions of paragraph 2, Article 44, of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria which deals with the carrying out of “activities directed against the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the country and the unity of the nation””. The association's intention “to defend the rights and interests of the Macedonians who were repressed during the time of the communist regime, but “on the basis of their Macedonian consciousness and self-determination”, is an expression of a desire to inflame national enmity on an ethnic basis in violation of the principle of equality of the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria and for that reason the founding of such an organisation is prohibited” (page 7) The admission to membership of the Association of “only persons who were 'repressed because of their Macedonian consciousness and self-determination' (an untrue assertion by the court-admission is open to all types of Bulgarian physical and legal entities)- ”assumes association on the basis of ethnicity” which “would result in a violation of the rights and legal interests of remaining Bulgarian citizens”(page 7) (that claim is made without presentation of any proof and in conflict with “basic principles” of the Constitution namely (Article 6)- that “any limitations of rights are inadmissible...based on one's membership of an ethnic group” and (Article 5)-that “International agreements … form part of the internal law of the country. They have priority over those norms of internal legislation which contradict them”). These are elements of Bulgaria's outstanding obligations to harmonise its legislation with that of the EU from before 2007. The court found that the provision for the holding of meetings and demonstrations are “activities which belong to a political party... which is in itself an independent ground to refuse the application for registration” (Page 7), while on the other hand it assessed that the objectives and means for their achievement did not correspond to those of an organisation formed for private benefit (page 6).
On 5/4/2021 the president of the organisation Stoyan Gerasimov Vassilev lodged an appeal with the Sofia Appellate Court due to the delay in providing a decision, however this was not acted upon.
On 31 May 2021, almost two months after the lodgement of the appeal regarding the delay, Judgement No 320 of the Sofia Appellate Court, presided over by Ivo Dimitrov, was received. This judgement affirmed the decisions to refuse registration by the Blagoevgrad District Court and the Agency for Registrations based on the following reasoning: namely, “the Republic of Bulgaria is a unitary and uni-national state... in accordance with the aforementioned, these same theses, acting as an objective legal code and therefore the social order based on it in the Republic of Bulgaria, do not recognise that in this country, which is a uni-national and unitary state, as has been indicated before, there exist juridically prescribed, that is legally protected and/or guaranteed minority rights for whichever minorities, based and/or specified or self-determining themselves on an ethnic/nationality basis, including a group such as Macedonians... On the basis of the aforementioned and the attachments provided, as well as that which has been recorded in the Statute of the association-appellant, given its status as a non-existent entity, juridically non-regulated, non-recognised and moreover non-recognised by the state and on the basis of its objective legal (including its publicly legal) order, but also explicitly that which has been written objectively in its same Statute, namely as a Macedonian organisation and explicitly as an ethnic minority, in those circumstances, given its presence in a unitary and uni-national state, which it seeks to be registered in as an association in on the basis of its Statute and in which it seeks to conduct its activities, the court finds that registration is manifestly unacceptable, Correspondingly as such, its sought after and processed registration in the corresponding Register, that is its registration under the Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities (ZYULNTS) and the Law on the Commercial Register and Register of Non-Profit Legal Entities (ZTRRYULNTS) and the corresponding regulatory normative acts implementing them, is deemed inadmissible” .
Apart from that, the court viewed the claims regarding the existence of a Macedonian minority and the intention of the association to defend certain rights and solve problems associated with it and its members as an “attempt to limit the rights of other citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria who do not claim to have a Macedonian origin, a Macedonian consciousness and /or...belong to an ethnic Macedonian minority in Bulgaria as is claimed to exist in the statute of the appellant association”. Moreover, it formed the belief that that ''in practice leads to a denial of basically the same rights /as a type-subjective civil rights/ for all other legal entities'' and a ''unique “reverse“ discrimination carried out against all remaining legal entities-physical entities which do not possess or profess those characteristics approved of in the founding documentation of the association which are based on ethnic origin and/or consciousness, personal/ethnic/national and self-ascribed characteristics”.
On 27 July 2021 the Agency for Registrations officially delivered its latest refusal (№ 20210726111922/27/07/2021г.) of the application for registration made by the Association of Repressed Macedonians in Bulgaria, Victims of Communist Terror, which was created by people who had served sentences in Bulgarian jails due to their Macedonian consciousness and self-determination. The Association has tried in vain to obtain registration for more than a decade. The grounds advanced by the Agency included the view that the objectives set out in point 1, paragraph 1, Article 2 of Association's Statute, namely, “the defence of the rights and lawful interests of the Macedonians, repressed during the time of the communist regime due to their Macedonian consciousness and self-determination, as well as their activities in defence of the rights and freedoms of the Macedonians in Bulgaria” and “the preservation and popularisation of Macedonian cultural and historical legacy “(point 2, paragraph 1, Article 2 of the Statute) and the means for their achievement, namely “conservation, restoration and building of monuments connected with Macedonia's past and heritage” (point 2, paragraph 2, Article 2 of the Statute) via “activities aimed at the protection of the rights of the Macedonians- victims of repression during the communist regime” (point 3, paragraph 2, Article 2 of the Statute) and other objectives were assessed by the Agency to be “in contradiction to that established by the provisions of paragraph 2, Article 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, in that it envisages the conduct of “activities directed against the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the country and the unity of the nation”, to be activities which are explicitly prohibited by the constitutional norm cited. Amongst the association's basic objectives is a commitment to defend the rights and interests of Macedonians, repressed during the time of the communist regime, but “on the basis of their Macedonian consciousness and self-determination“, which is an expression of a desire to inflame national enmity, on an ethnic basis, in violation of the principle of equality between the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria and as such the establishment of such an organisation is prohibited”
In addition, this association was accused of having been formed on an ethnic basis and that its modus operandi resembled “the activities undertaken by a classical political party”.
According to the Agency all of these “irregularities” were of such a nature that it was not appropriate to provide instructions for the removal of such irregularities and it proceeded to issue a direct refusal.
On 8 October 2021 by virtue of judgement No 59 the Blagoevgrad District Court confirmed the refusal issued by the Agency.
The Agency presented before the court the argument that the application for registration was identical to the previous application lodged by this organisation which it had already rejected and after which the organisation had not made the necessary changes “linked to the incompatibility of the goals and the means for their achievement indicated in the Constitution” and as such it followed that a refusal be issued.
That in essence means that while the Macedonian organisations do not repudiate the claim that a Macedonian minority and identity exists with its own language, culture, and history, as well as repudiate all intentions to work for its benefit, they will not be able to obtain registration, since that is namely what the “criticisms” and “irregularities” pointed out by the Agency consist of.
Also “according to the court, in the goals formulated in the statute it is apparent that the activities of the association are directed against the unity of the nation”. The court found that the goals indicated such as “preservation and popularisation of Macedonian cultural and historical heritage, the restoration and building of monuments connected to a Macedonian past and future... protection of the rights of the Macedonians … holding of lectures, talks and submission of reports... the organisation of regional Macedonian gatherings, the celebration of historical dates and events ... the collection of historical, memoir and archival materials... recording, preservation and popularisation of Macedonian folkloric treasures, etc, such cited activities... are activities which the court assesses to be directed against the unity of the Bulgarian nation” and, as such, are unconstitutional. The court also referred to the fact that an identical decision taken by it had already been affirmed by the Sofia Appellate Court in Judgement No 320/31/5/2021.That claim also indicates that the denial of the Macedonian minority and the decisions to refuse registration of its organisations have become a normal judicial practice and norm.
The judicial system also initiated a new practice of penalising Macedonian organisations if they appeal the decisions that refuse their applications. The repressed Macedonians were ordered by the court to pay the costs of the Agency for Registration for “legal consulting fees”.
Macedonian Club for Ethnic Tolerance in the Republic of Bulgaria
This organisation won its case in the ECHR in 2020 against the refusal of Bulgarian institutions to register it. That same year the organisation tried to obtain registration, however on 17/11/2020 it was rejected by the Agency for Registrations which argued that the desire of the association to defend the rights of the Macedonians in Bulgaria was an act directed against the interests and rights of remaining citizens, that its objectives were not only anti-constitutional, but characteristic of a political party and also not in keeping with an organisation for private benefit, but rather for the benefit of society. The refusal was appealed against at the Blagoevgrad District Court which on 1/2/2021 affirmed the decision of the Agency.
Judgement No 8 of 01.02.2021 at the Blagoevgrad District Court
The Blagoevgrad court affirmed in full the rejection issued by the Agency for Registrations and refused to comply with the attached judgement of the ECHR or to even refer to it. The court found that the objectives of the association to defend “the human and minority rights of the Macedonians and other ethnic minorities in Bulgaria, in accordance with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities” and the means for their achievement -namely, “the preservation, development and transmission of the historical truth about the Macedonian Question to future generations and the carrying out of activities for its solution in keeping with the concepts developed by the European Union” and “the carrying out of activities for the protection of the rights of the Macedonians” and in particular, “the protection of the human and minority rights of the Macedonians and other ethnic minorities in Bulgaria” was in contradiction with Paragraph 2, Article 44 of the Constitution, as it envisages “the carrying out of activities directed against the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the country and the unity of the nation”. It found additionally that its objectives are “an expression of the possibility that national enmity on an ethnic basis will be inflamed and a violation of the principle of equality of the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria, due to which the establishment of such an organisation is prohibited” (page 6). The court referred in this instance to a series of opinions of the Sofia Appellate Court according to which “A Macedonian ethnic minority does not exist in Bulgaria... this is why the portrayal of such a minority via an organisation ...whose purpose is to satisfy their specific needs and does not in essence seek to protect their rights in that they do not differ from those of other citizens… is directed against the unity of the nation" (page 7).
Furthermore, the court found that the circumstance that “only persons “repressed because of their Macedonian consciousness and self-determination”(something which is a factually incorrect assertion by the court-all Bulgarian citizens can be members of the association) meant that the association was being established on an ethnic basis and that therefore the right of the founders to establish such an organisation on the basis of objectives indicated in the Statute would be realized “in violation of the rights and lawful interests of other Bulgarian citizens who don't share the objectives of the association and the methods for their achievement”. Consequently, the court found that it was unacceptable that “the object of protection are not the rights and lawful interests of all Bulgarian citizens, repressed during the time of the communist regime at all, but only those citizens with ”a Macedonian consciousness and self-determination (pages 6,7) without explaining in what way that represents a problem, which law it contradicts and how it undermines in any way the rights of other citizens to create their own organisations to protect their own interests. For the court it was obviously not a problem that not one of the registered parties in the country in any way protects the interests of Bulgarian citizens with a Macedonian consciousness but finds it unacceptable that these same citizens would create organisations to protect their interests. Macedonians have the right to only protect the interests of others, but not under any circumstances can they protect theirs. In practice, judicial practice and theory in Bulgaria prohibits the protection of the interests of Bulgarian citizens with a Macedonian consciousness.
The court refused to discuss the Framework Convention on National Minorities cited in the Statute of the Association as given that “a legal definition of the concept ” national minority” has not been provided in the Bulgarian legal system, the same reasoning applied to the Framework Convention ratified by the Bulgarian state” (page.7).
The court's judgement was appealed against at the Appellate Court which on 8/6/2021 affirmed the decisions to refuse registration.
Judgement № 339 of 8/6/2021 by the Sofia Appellate Court, presided over by Lyudmila Tsolova.
In its judgement the Appellate Court “found that the judgement issued was valid and permissible. The appeal lodged against it is unfounded. The present composition of the panel fully shares the reasoning employed by the Blagoevgrad District Court“. The court applied an approach often used against Macedonian organisations, in that it refused to accept as authentic the stated objectives of the association and rather attempted to reveal “the true will of the founding members which must not be in contradiction to the law”, without so much as bothering with the fact that this was a newly-created organisation which had not had an opportunity to engage in activities of any sort and there not being any other way to evaluate what other “true” motives it had, other than those freely expressed by the founding members. The Appellate Court found that the mention of anything Macedonian, minority, history and interests “creates the impression of the existence of a minority Macedonian ethnicity on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria which has been deprived of its rights or had them undermined, standing in opposition to other Bulgarian citizens and which has been repressed by the state. Such an ethnicity does not exist objectively as a separate and confirmed group of people, possessing religious, linguistic, cultural and other characteristics which distinguish it from other parts of the population of the country. Given these circumstances, the establishment of the Association with the objectives and means for their achievement indicated in its constitutive acts, in essence represents the pursuit of the artificial creation, imposition and portrayal of the notion that there exists within a specific part of the Bulgarian population, an ethnic self-awareness, which differs from the national self-awareness, which has not developed historically and whose rights, despite that which is proclaimed in Article 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria regarding the equality of all citizens, are in need of special protection. This is what characterises the objectives pursued by the Association which are directed towards the creation of division in the nation and set the preconditions for ethnic conflict which threatens the territorial integrity of the country, which is in contradiction to the prohibition-imposed paragraph 2, Article 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria”. In making that statement the court in practice proclaimed the very act of Macedonian self-determination and consciousness and all acts based on them as hostile to the country.
The court provided a perverted interpretation of activities for the protection of the rights of the Macedonian ethnic group which objectively exists and which in the past was officially recognised in Bulgaria as “activities whose ideological orientation seeks to create, impose and confirm the existence of a separate group of people as a distinct ethnic group with its own interest, place and role in Bulgarian society, which differs from another part of it”. It viewed such activities as characteristic for a political party.
The court mercilessly refused to take into account the judgement of the ECHR in remarking as follows: “The judgement of the ECHR from which the applicant draws arguments regarding the well-roundedness of his appeal and which he presented with his statement to the official considering registration, cannot be considered as suitable evidence confirming facts relevant to the case … Even if it were to be accepted as suitable evidence, that in itself does not determine the outcome of the application for registration No 20201116160243/ 17/11/2020, as it refers to circumstances relevant to a rejection of an application for registration of an association with a similar name and statute which was issued in 2013“. The court moreover refused to take into account that the Statute and objectives of the association in 2013, as well as now, were identical and that the judgement of the ECHR in practice made a ruling against almost all of the same arguments used then and now by the Bulgarian courts.
Association for the Protection of Fundamental Individual Civil Rights
After having been registered by the Blagoevgrad Agency for Registration in accordance with certificate No 20190830112508/30/08/2019,the Blagoevgrad District Court, by virtue of Judgement No 903267/20/07/2020 of Judge Aneta Ilinska, terminated the registration of the Association for the Protection of Fundamental Individual Civil Rights using the already well- known reasons: namely, that a Macedonian ethnicity does not exist, that this represents an attempt to change the unitary character of the country, that a direct refusal is appropriate in this case and that the objectives and means for their achievement are in contradiction to the provisions of Article 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The Sofia Appeals Court presided over by Tsvetko Lazarov, on the basis of determination 181/20/01/2021, affirmed the order issued by the Blagoevgrad District Court of 26/8/2020 and returned the case to the Blagoevgrad District Court for the establishment of a time frame for lodgement of an appeal against the judgement of 20/7/2020. The court found that the court judgement had not been communicated to the defendant in a timely manner. By virtue of a protocol ruling of the Blagoevgrad District Court by Judge A. Ilinska on 16/12/2021 the application for reinstatement of the case was not acted upon. By means of a private appeal lodged on 23/12/2021, this ruling was appealed to the Sofia Court of Appeal. The case is currently pending.
HARASSMENT OF MACEDONIAN ACTIVISTS
Slavcho Pavlov from the village of Dolno Spanchovo, Sandanski municipality who earlier on had encountered serious problems with the authorities because he had displayed the Macedonian ethnic flag at his home, which is moreover not the flag of another country or a political party ( see our Report of 2016://www.omoilindenpirin.org/news/2017/may31_b.php), once again encountered problems with the authorities. The flag was taken down and he made a drawing of the same flag on his wall. In so doing he did not break any law and up until recently he had not had any problems with the authorities in relation to this matter. At the beginning of the Census count (on the 3rd and 9th of September 2021), he was visited on two occasions by representatives of the authorities, the second time by a three-person commission composed of the municipal inspector Georgi Getov, and the policemen, Vesselin Krustev and Stoyan Gongov. They asked him to erase the flag or move it elsewhere where it could not be seen. Their reason for doing so was because that was the flag of OMO “Ilinden”-PIRIN (something which does not correspond to the truth), the only party which defends the rights of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, whose registration was rescinded in Bulgaria, despite the judgement in its favour at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in 2005. He was handed a document with the following text: “The flag of OMO “Ilinden“-PIRIN which has been placed on the facade above RAK “Pirin” and the mayor's office in the village constitutes an anti-constitutional act. Pavlov is warned (illegible word) that he must remove the flag within a period of 7 (seven) days, otherwise he will be held criminally responsible by the competent authorities. He is required to attend room No 311 of the Municipal Inspectorate in Sandanski. Slavcho did not attend.
Hunters from the city of Goce Delchev have a hunting lodge in the locality of Papazchair where they stay while hunting. D, Gurgavelov who is the brother of the leader of the organisation “Ancient Macedonians”, Ivan Gurgalvelov, raised the flag containing the Sun of Kutlesh symbol (considered by Macedonians as their ethnic flag) on the roof of the lodge. The Lawyer Lidiya Gerova, who is a prominent nationalist member of VMRO and a hunter herself saw the flag and asked Gurgavelov to take it down. He refused to do so, and she subsequently went to see the mayor of the city of Goce Delchev, Valeri Sarandev, who is president of the hunting and fishing association “Sokol”. She complained about Gurgavelov and asked for Sarandev's assistance in having it removed. The flag does not belong to any state or party and its raising was not illegal. The problem arose because the flag is used by the Macedonians and was motivated by a desire to prevent any attempt by Macedonians to publicly display their symbols.
THE CENSUS CONDUCTED IN BULGARIA IN SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2021
Conditions under which the Census was Conducted
1. The census was conducted without there being a separate column for “Macedonian“ in the Census form, on the basis of an official policy of denial of the Macedonian minority and in a situation where one's self-determination as a Macedonian is considered to be an act of treachery and treason towards the state, as well as in an atmosphere of heightened anti-Macedonian propaganda, which has sown a strong hatred of the Macedonians, accompanied by severely strained relations with the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian nation, and a mass campaign against both.
2. It was conducted in conditions of deep-seated fear inherited from long ago- namely, fear created by those hundreds of people who were sent to jail and the thousands interned, dismissed from their jobs, or tormented in other ways during the time of the communist regime, and moreover supported by the policies of the state over the last few decades, through the hate speech directed with impunity against the Macedonians, the violence perpetrated against particular activists, the ban on meetings, the refusal to register Macedonian organisations and the calling into police stations for interrogation of thousands of members of Macedonian parties and organisations.
3.The state has not done anything at all to reduce this fear in the people, nor has it organised explanatory campaigns to explain to them that they have the right to write down whatever they desire and that declaring that they are Macedonian is permitted and not a crime.
4.Those conducting the Census were not instructed (or at least not many were) to explain to people that they have the right to self-declare ethnically as they please; on the contrary, in many cases they violated that right and argued with people or manipulated them (see below).
5.Macedonian organisations were not permitted to conduct an explanatory campaign in the media in order to encourage Macedonians to self-declare without fear as they wished. At the beginning of the Census, Kiril Tilev, from the leadership of OMO 'Ilinden”, tried to have a paid announcement broadcast on the local Sandanski radio station “Geya”, in which an appeal was made to all Macedonians to declare as such without fear. The employee asked in whose name the address was being made and after being told that it was by OMO “Ilinden”, he called his boss and then refused to accept the address for broadcast.
How was the Census Conducted
If we exclude the Census conducted on-line, the Census conducted through home visits was carried out with fundamental violations of the freedom to self-determination which affected the accuracy of the data collected.
The most common method used was conducting the Census over the phone, during which people were only asked for their personal details-their Individual Civil Number and the number of their ID card, while all other details were filled out subsequently by the Census takers. Given this circumstance, people were not asked either about their ethnicity, mother tongue or religion.
The second most widespread method was the taking of personal details at the entrance to the residence after which the Census takers would fill in the form without consulting those persons to whom the form related.
Due to the fact that these two methods accounted for the majority of census entries in the Blagoevgrad region, the conclusion arrived at is that not only have answers to questions relating to religion, ethnicity and mother tongue been fabricated and most likely copied from the preceding Census or based on the (lack of) information held by the Census takers, but also data relating to all other questions.
The third method used was to fill out the form at the entrance to the home, whereby the answers were recorded in draft form, but not on the actual forms so that the Census takers could then fill out the form privately in the absence of the person concerned.
It has been noted that some people were not even visited at home, consulted or contacted regarding the Census and it remains unclear if they were actually included in the Census count, and if they were, how that was in fact done. In the villages of Luki and Teshovo in the municipality of Hadzhidimovo, according to information received, Census takers did not visit these villages at all, but merely took away the electoral roll and filled in the forms on that basis. 
On rarer occasions when the Census was actually carried out, by means of interviews with the people and completion of the forms, various violations of the Census process were noted.
The forms were filled out without questions being asked about the person's ethnicity and mother tongue, which were automatically entered as Bulgarian or alternatively questions stopped being asked immediately before the questions relating to ethnicity under the pretext that all questions had already been covered.
If the person concerned reacted and asked about the question on ethnicity, he/she encountered resistance from the Census takers who in one way or another would refuse to write down Macedonian. The following examples of obstruction were noted.
The Census takers would state that there is no column for “Macedonians” and therefore they could not write down Macedonians and that they would have to enter the people as belonging to another ethnicity (instead of entering the people as “Macedonians” in the “Other“-column).
The Census takers would state that there is no column for “Macedonians” and that they had to enter them in the “Other“-column, however instead of entering them in the “Other “ column, they would merely write down an X or other sign in the “Other“ column and then claim that this question had been completed.
- The Census takers would argue with people, telling them that Macedonians do not exist. In certain cases, they requested the ID card of the person concerned and told him/her: “Look, it is not written down here that you are Macedonian and as you live in Bulgaria, how can I write down that you are Macedonian”? 
-The Census takers would directly tell the person concerned “not to create problems as there were no Macedonians in Bulgaria”.
Even if the question relating to ethnicity was filled out in accordance with the wishes of the person concerned, the question relating to language was overlooked or if the person concerned asked about the question relating to language various forms of obstruction were encountered, such as, for example, that such a language as Macedonian does not exist or that the language spoken was not Macedonian, but Bulgarian.
Lack of Verification of Information Provided
Census forms were not signed by the Census takers and there was no guarantee and protection against them being altered later on.
To date there has been no way for people to check how they have been recorded in the Census.
Given the aforementioned and taking into account state policy regarding the (non) existence of the Macedonian minority, we believe that the data collected at the Census, generally, and especially the data relating to questions regarding the number of Macedonians and those that speak Macedonian will show a drastically reduced number and that this situation will be particularly bad for groups falling within the categories of older and less literate citizens.
We therefore believe that official, published Census data will be inaccurate, not objective and unable to serve any useful purpose.
The data has still not been published to date (2.04.2022).
REFUSAL OF THE AUTHORITIES TO ENGAGE IN DIALOGUE
Dialogue betweenthe representatives of the Macedonian minority and the authorities is regularly recommended in the monitoring reports on Bulgaria. “The authorities have not entered into a dialogue with persons identifying as Macedonians, who continue to request recognition as a national minority and protection under the Framework Convention” This year again the authorities did not make any attempt to implement the recommendations in the reports of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Commission for the Fight Against Racism and Intolerance and the Consultative Committee for the Application of the Framework Convention on National Minorities for the start of a dialogue with the Macedonian minority. On the contrary, not one reply was received to the many written requests from Macedonian organizations for meetings and talks with Bulgarian institutions such as those of the President, Premier, Parliament, Minister of Education, the Commission for Minority Issues.
Answers to the request was received only from the Commission Against Discrimination and it is first positive answer from this Commission regular requests made in the previous 8 years.On 25 November a meeting with the President, Dzhumaylieva, took place, however the meeting was more a courtesy call and did not result in anything concrete apart from showing that the Commission did not have a great desire to look into the major problem – the systemic discrimination against people with a Macedonian consciousness in Bulgaria. The only effect was that immediately after that meeting the Commission via its member, Sabrie Sapundzhieva, attempted to put an end to the case initiated by Macedonian organisations which had already been accepted by the Commission, by changing its previous opinion about its “admissibility” in violation of the Law on Protection from Discrimination and demanding that those lodging the complaint once again establish the admissibility of the complaint, without indicating what exactly was required or missed. The initiators of the complaint answered by asking Sapundzhieva's removal. Up until 20 April, the date of the completion of this report, nothing further has been undertaken by the Commission in relation to that complaint
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The violation of the right to association as well as the hate speech and discrimination that Macedonians are subjected to are based on the denial of the Macedonian minority and the treatment of the mere idea that such a minority exists as hostile to Bulgaria.
Given the existing situation in the country, it does not appear probable that the situation of the Macedonians in Bulgaria can be improved without serious external intervention, especially on the part of European institutions. This problem is very old and serious and requires emergency measures. The denial of and discrimination against the Macedonian minority represents the last vestige of totalitarian policy in the European Union.
In order for the current problems of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria to be solved the following changes should occur:
1. The decision of the Constitutional Court of 29 February 2000 and the Declaration of the Bulgarian Parliament of 6 March 1990, which officially postulate that in Bulgaria there is no concrete Macedonian ethnic group, as well as the parliamentary declaration of 9 November 2019, must be rescinded. These decisions serve as an ideological and legal basis for discrimination. The government should officially declare that the Macedonian minority will no longer be denied or discriminated against and that its rights will be defended.
2. The state should officially recognise the existence of national minorities in the country and the concept “national minorities” should be included in the Constitution. The state should take the necessary legal measures so that the principle of the unity of the nation cannot be interpreted to deny the very existence of national minorities and their rights.
3. The law on the registration of non-government organizations should be changed and articles included in it which would make it impossible to interpret the self-determination of minority groups as an anti-constitutional, anti-state act which threatens territorial integrity and justifies denial of registration.
4. Measures should be taken so that the constitutional prohibition on forming organizations on an ethnic basis is not interpreted and used to oppose the right of minorities to form their own organizations.
5. Bulgaria should implement the judgements of the ECHR and Macedonian organisations should be registered. The obstacles preventing registration of Macedonian organisations should be removed. 
6. An active dialogue must be initiated between the state and the representatives of the Macedonian minority in order to solve current problems and there should be a Macedonian representative on the Commission on Minorities. This dialogue should begin immediately, without waiting for the recognition of the Macedonian minority as „recognition by the state as a minority is not a prerequisite to qualify for the protection of the Framework Convention“ and should focus on the application of the Framework Convention to the Macedonians in accordance with specific articles of the Convention.
7. The Census documents in the future should contain a separate column for “Macedonian” and during the conduct of the Census it is to be publicly and officially announced that everyone who self-identifies as a Macedonian can freely do so.
8. Measures should be taken for the promotion of tolerance vis-à-vis the Macedonian minority and for its protection against hate speech and institutional discrimination.
9. The study of the Macedonian literary language, culture and history should be included in curricula for children belonging to the Macedonian minority. At the same time primary school curricula should be modified so as not to exclude references to the Macedonian nation and its history, culture and language (something which is not new, and which was done in the past in Bulgaria, but which has now been abandoned).
Authors: Committee for the Defence of Human Rights “Tolerantnost” with the Support of OMO ”Ilinden”-PIRIN, OMO “Ilinden”, The Association of Repressed Macedonians Victims of Communist Terror, The Association for the Defence of Fundamental Civil Rights, Macedonian Human Right Movement International, Macedonian Club for Ethnic Tolerance in the Republic of Bulgaria, The Civil Initiative for the Recognition of the Macedonian National Minority in Bulgaria and Defence of the Rights of Bulgarian Citizens with a Macedonian Consciousness, Macedonian Club for Ethnic Tolerance in the Republic of Bulgaria. Antic Macedonians and the newspapers “Narodna Volya”
 PACE: Post-monitoring dialogue with Bulgaria, Explanatory memorandum by Mr Frank Schwabe and Mr ZsoltNémeth, co-rapporteurs, http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=27711&lang=en, 160: “There is no Macedonian language or history in schools.”
 There is not one politically or socially influential personality in the country who publicly states that he/she possesses a Macedonian consciousness, which shows that such persons are either unable to achieve such a status or that they are forced to cover up their self-determination as Macedonians because of a fear of negative consequences.
 Here one should include the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the people grouped around the editorial board of “Marginaliya”
 PACE: Post-monitoring dialogue, 160.
https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/31266495.html-https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/31310559.html, https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/31312202.html,https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/31266495.html(cited on 16/09/2021).
 VMRO takes BHC to the State Agency for National Security and Public Prosecutor's office for Separatism, 9 November 2021, https://www.standartnews.com/izbori-2-v-1/vmro-dava-bkhk-na-dans-i-prokuraturata-za-separatizm-476112.html
 Aleksander Popov, Karakachanov Jumps on the USA; There are no Macedonians in Bulgaria”!, 30/1/ 2021, Dnes.bg, https://www.dnes.bg/politika/2021/10/30/karakachanov-skochi-na-sasht-makedonsko-malcinstvo-v-bylgariia-niama.508712
 VMRO takes BHC to the State Agency for National Security and public prosecutor's office for separatism, 9 November 2021 , https://www.standartnews.com/izbori-2-v-1/vmro-dava-bkhk-na-dans-i-prokuraturata-za-separatizm-476112.html
 Emil Radev against the attempt to include an imaginary minority in the debate on legality in Bulgaria, 30/11/2011, https://news.bg/politics/emil-radev-sreshtu-opita-izmisleno-maltsinstvo-da-se-vplita-v-debata-za-zakonnost-u-nas.html
 Angel Dzhambaski, There is an effort being made in Europe to pose the question of the Macedonian minority in our country, 01/12/2021, https://www.djambazki.org/blog/view/335/v-evropa-se-pravi-opit-za-postaviane-na-vyprosa-za-makedonsko-malcinstvo-v-stranata-ni
 Roumen Radev insisted that state institutions defend the Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia, 22/02/2021 12:01:59,https://news.bg/politics/rumen-radev-nastoya-institutsiite-da-zashtityat-balgarite-v-rs-makedoniya.html (cited on 16/09/2021)
 Tsvetomir Tsvetanov, Martin Minkov: Macedonianism is a synonym for Anti-Bulgarianism, 22/6/2021, 22.06.2021, https://bnr.bg/vidin/post/101487288/martin-minchev-makedonizmat-e-sinonim-na-antibalgarizam
 https://voinaimir.info/2021/03/requiem-macedonism/ (cited on 23/3/2022)
 https://novini247.com/novini/fakti-publikuva-mneniya-s-shirok-spektar-ot-gledni-tochki-za_3742749.html (cited on23/3/2022)
 1406th meeting, 7-9 June 2021 (DH), H46-9 United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden and Others group v. Bulgaria (Application No. 59491/00), https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectID=0900001680a2b517
Appeal of Dimitur Paraskov at the District Court in Blagoevgrad, of 9/4/2021 against judgement № 20210402092913/05/04/2021г. of the Agency for Registration.
 Refusal № 20211116143951/17.11.2021 г., p.3
 Decision No 77 of 01/12/2021, pp. 1, 2.
 Decision No of 01/12/2021, p. 4.
 In this case the court seriously digressed from the cited norm in the Bulgarian Constitution entitled: “Organisations whose activities are banned.” and in which concrete violations are enumerated; that is they are prohibited on the basis of activities which have been correspondingly conducted and not on the assumption that it is possible that such concrete activities may be carried out. In this particular case no concrete activities of one type or another or perpetrators of such acts had been established, however the organisation was banned pre-emptively on the grounds that protection was needed from “activities directed against the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the country and the unity of the nation”. Pointing this out as a valid reason in a court judgement carries great weight and as such it undermines our dignity and good name taking into account that there is no case in existence of a conviction
 Once again the relevant law was trampled because in the Administrative Procedure Code Article 59 requires ”juridical and legal grounds for the issuing of an act”, which is a condition for the exercise of constitutional law (article 120 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria) by those who wish to pursue judicial review of the legality of acts and actions of the administrative body”. Neither in law, nor in the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria are there any specific types of irregularities indicated which would render these norms inapplicable. The views on such matters expressed in a decision of European court of Human rights have also been trampled upon.
 Judgement No 59/2021 of the Blagoevgrad Regional Court, Nadya Uzunova, pp.2,3.
. Account of Kiril Serafimov Tilev, Sandaski, 19 September 2021
Stoycho Nikolov Kochev, in the city of Sandanski was visited at home at the beginning of October by a young female Census taker which took his Census details at the door and said- “I will fix them up later”. Kochev insisted that he did not want to be recorded as a Bulgarian, but as a Macedonian, however there is no way for him to find out what the Census taker actually wrote down.
. Information received from V.P
 Account , page 1
 A specific type of manipulation occurred in the case of Kalincho Georgiev Todorov from the village of Draganovo. The female Census taker asked him what language he spoke apart from Bulgarian, in effect a trick question which no matter how it is answered leads to the person concerned being recorded as having Bulgarian as his mother tongue. He stated that he does not speak Bulgarian, but rather Macedonian, upon which the Census taker began to argue with him, saying that the language he speaks is Bulgarian and that she could not write down Macedonian as there was no such language.
 Commissioner, & 49: Bearing in mind the principle of free self-identification enshrined in Article 3 of the FCNM, the Commissioner urges the authorities to engage in a constructive dialogue with persons identifying themselves as ethnic Macedonians”; Advisory, & 26: ”Applying these principles to persons self-identifying as Macedonians and Pomaks, the Advisory Committee considers that an open dialogue with persons identifying as belonging to these minorities would be important”. (also & 27)
 Advisory, & 13
For information on the same recommendation see: https://www.civicsolidarity.org/article/1639/respect-and-recognition-macedonian-minority-bulgaria-strong-condemnation-announcements, cited on 16 March 2020.
 Commissioner, & 49
 Commissioner, & 49
 Advisory, & 25 - 27.
 Cf. Advisory, & 31 - 36