Macedonia and many other Orthodox Christian countries, Bulgarian included, honor St. Clement of Ohrid today – one of the key disciples of Ss. Cyril and Methodius who is credited with codifying the Cyrillic alphabet and helping spread Christianity among the Slavic world.
But the celebration this year comes at a time when Bulgaria is imposing a dispute on Macedonia over the Macedonian history, and is trying to use its EU veto power to push Macedonia to accept a new reading of history that would declare its historic figures to have been actually Bulgarians.
The argument was fanned today by a tweet from the Skopje Embassy of Russia – the biggest Orthodox Christian country in the world, in which Russia congratulated the “brotherly Macedonian people” on the state holiday honoring the “great enlightener and the first Slavic Apostle”.
This Russian linking of St. Clement, who worked from Ohrid, in Macedonia, with the Macedonian people, apparently anguished a Bulgarian historian, professor Plamen Pavlov. Quoted by BGNES, a Bulgarian news agency that is strongly invested in the dispute with Macedonia, Pavlov said that “Unfortunately, we have a new Russian provocation that aims to divide Bulgaria and Macedonia and to deform history to an unbearable degree”.
Since Bulgaria chose to veto Macedonia’s EU accession talks, every few weeks a new religious or secular holiday prompts new outbursts of accusations between commentators from both countries.