Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) journalist Michael Martens published a report on the latest pressure from Bulgaria, which threatens to block the opening of EU accession talks with Macedonia. The report, titled “You are not what you think you are” notes that Bulgaria is using the leverage it gained when it was admitted to the EU in 2007 to accomplish regional goals and to get Macedonia to give up on its national identity.

A widely distributed position in Bulgaria is that the Macedonian language does not exist, that it is a Western Bulgarian dialect and Bulgaria demands that during the accession talks the language is named just as the “official language of the Republic of North Macedonia”. Bulgaria also believes that the Macedonian identity exists only since 1944, and was created under dictatorial conditions in Tito’s Yugoslavia, to get the Macedonians to forget that they are Bulgarians. Bulgaria says that Skopje must accept all this, and more, if it wants to join the EU, the German paper reports.

FAZ adds that this dispute comes after similar conditions were laid out by Greece, which pressured Macedonia to change its name and insisted that Macedonians are Slavs who have no right to claim the heritage of Alexander the Great.

“North” Macedonia must also renounce the claim that there is a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. It also must give up the claim that it was under a Bulgarian fascist occupation between 1941 and 1944. Tis raises the question why did Bulgaria, as ally to Hitler, join in the attacks on Greece and Yugoslavia, for which it was rewarded with the possibility to occupy major parts of modern day “North” Macedonia. The position of Bulgaria now is that these territories were not occupied but “liberated”, Martens writes.

The paper adds that the dispute with Bulgaria is about to prove to the world that the dispute Greece raised with Macedonia could not be topped in its absurdity.