Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Vodenicharov: We share mutual roots and history, we should not give up on that

Some politicians build their political careers by creating tensions and disrespect toward certain communities and nations. They know that if it were not for that, they would not be on the political stage. If we do not succumb under such entraps, they will soon lose their social influence

The President of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Stefan Vodenicharov, as one of the initiators of the first organized joint celebration of Macedonia and Bulgaria, says that he and his MANU colleague still do not have any agreement over another eventual  joint observance of historical figures, but stresses that he is willing for something like that from both countries. The Academician believes that an agreement on good-neighbourliness should be signed, which should apply equally for both countries. In regard to the suspicions that the request for joint celebration of events and figures from history is an attempt for Macedonians to presents themselves as Bulgarians, he considers that everyone has the right to make decisions about which people or nation they belong to.

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Who is Stefan Vodenicharov?

Stefan Vodenicharov was born in Sofia in 1944. He has graduated from the Technical University in Sofia in 1968, and became a corresponding member of the Bulgarian Academy in 2004. He became an Academician on October 11, 2012, while two months later he was elected as President of Bulgaria’s Academy of Sciences (BAS) for four-year term. Vodenicharov is author of 70 patents and over 160 scientific publications, as well as 21 studies in the fields of energy and defense.

In January last year, several months before the elections in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Prime Minister appointed him as the Minister of Education, but he  hold this position only for somewhat more than a month, until the early parliamentary elections in March the same year.

Mister Vodenicharov, this year Macedonian and Bulgaria are celebrating historical figures together for the first time, at you initiative. Why choose Saints Cyril and Methodius and how much do you think this will contribute to enhance the relations between the two nations?

Vodenicharov: We and the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts have started а research programme, which encompasses a wide range of mutual interests. If we celebrate general holidays together, the relations between us will not be merely professional. When we were making this year’s programme, this date was first on the holiday list. The two brothers has been chosen as patronages of the entire Europe and their works have left deep traces in everyone of us, and something more, we both countries use the same alphabet – the Cyrillic alphabet.

I think that the relations between the common citizens from both countries do not have the need for enhancement, because they have never been cooled. If have more general holidays, those living with particular relations and conduct will surely want to join us.

What kind of message would you like to send with the joint observance of the holy brothers?

Vodenicharov: We share mutual roots, mutual history and we should not give up on that.

 The head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – the Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia g.g. Stephen is to attend a liturgy at the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. Does that mean a step forward in improving the relations between the two countries?

Vodenicharov: I am not much familiar with the rules and the principles of the two churches. If there are any differences or accumulated misunderstandings, they can overcome them only if they are willing to talk about that.

Part of the Macedonian public doubts Bulgaria’s frankness over seeking joint celebration of historical figures because thus Bulgaria is demonstrating that the Macedonians and the Bulgarians are one nation, which has been divided in two countries due to political circumstances, and by that, that the entire past is mutual. How true is this?

Vodenicharov: In both Academies of Sciences (BAS and MANU) we are people that have committed ourselves to science. Every one of us has proven themselves not only in the field of science, but also as citizens with academic integrity. All kinds of suggestions about  insincerity can not be directed to the people of the two academies. Our principle is, that everyone has the right to make decisions about which people or nation they belong to. We live in united Europe, so we should act like its decent members, who respect each other.

Some of the Bulgarian politicians and historians claim that Macedonia and Bulgarian should base their relations on the relations between Germany and Austria. How to eliminate the radicals who inflict huge damage to the positive initiatives, from the healthy policies?

Vodenicharov: Some politicians build their political careers by creating tensions and disrespect toward certain communities and nations. They know that if it were not for that, they would not be on the political stage. If we do not succumb under such entraps, they will soon lose their social influence. A great part of the citizens should regard the example with Germany and Austria from a point of view of high level of culture.There are unfriendly messengers as well, but they are weak and with no social influence.

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Is there any agreement for observance of any other historically relevant persons? If so, who are they?

Vodenicharov: We have not discussed mutual celebration with the counterparts within Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, which might happen easily, since such persons are just a few. Both sides willing is enough for that to happen, and in my opinion – such interest exists.

How would you comment on Bulgaria conditioning Macedonia to sign good-neighborliness agreement in an exchange for Macedonia’s Euro-integration support? Are there good neighborly relations by using pressure? Macedonia experiences that as blackmailing and violence of the stronger party.

Vodenicharov: I am not a politician and I cannot comment on international agreements. I do not even know European practice regarding such issues. I, however, do not find signing mutual good-neighborliness agreement pressure. Both parties should strive to such agreement to overcome even the smallest current misunderstandings in accordance with international and European standards.

Do you think the good neighborliness agreement should be equally valid for both parties and to respect the reciprocity and concern Bulgarian minority in Macedonia just like it would refer to Macedonian minority in Bulgaria?

Vodenicharov: In my opinion, every good neighborliness agreement should be equally valid for both signing parties.

Which are the real obstacles for good neighborly relations between Macedonian and Bulgarian people?

Vodenicharov: I will stress once again my opinion that ordinary citizens of both countries already nurture normal friendly relations. Obstacles, especially in the recent period, have appeared due to suggestions from the outside or due to certain leadership ambitions of some politicians.

To what extent is Bulgaria obsessed with the Macedonian issue?

Vodenicharov: I do not grasp the sense of this question. Which Macedonian issue are we discussing?

Is there a real interest to overcome century-long stereotypes and final reconciliation among Balkans people or are we going to live much longer stuck in the past?

Vodenicharov: All Balkans people would benefit from peace and good neighborliness in the region. It is not the state with largest territory in the world that is the richest one, but the one where people live rich, with high living standard and securing future filled with welfare for generations that follow.

It is indisputable Macedonians and Bulgarians are closest in terms of language, history, customs, even music, which is evident on Bulgarian TV stations. Still, why have not political and intellectual elites done anything thus far to benefit from the mutual support, instead of continuous crisis and arguments between both countries?

Vodenicharov: Both sides intellectual elites have never lost their friendship, neither ceased mutual communication. Politicians are different category of people, who not always respect traditions and reality. They often resolve temporary issue without accessing the consequences.

Bulgaria is also involved in Macedonia’s name issue. Few Bulgarian politicians have stated Bulgaria should also be asked for the resolution. Former Bulgarian President, Prvanov, said that “North Republic of Macedonia” is not an acceptable name, since part of historical Macedonia is now part of Bulgaria. Is it possible for Skopje and Athens to find a resolution, which will be unacceptable for Sofia?

Vodenicharov: In my knowledge, the issue is between Greece and Macedonia. Let us not forget Bulgaria was the first country to recognize Macedonia under its name ‘Republic of Macedonia”.

 

 By: Nenad Mircevski