OMO “Ilinden” – Pirin, the leading association of Macedonians in Bulgaria, responded to President Rumen Radev, who labeled them as “separatists”. Radev reacted angrily after President Pendarovski met with representatives from this and other organizations that represent ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria.

His statement is a lie and slander. It is shameful for all, since when it comes from a President, its shame falls on all citizens. So far, no Macedonian organization, or a Macedonian in Bulgaria, was charged, tried or sentenced for separatist activities. The false allegation of separatism is used to justify the systemic discrimination of the Bulgarian citizens of Macedonian identity. This has been noted in 14 verdicts reached by the European Court of Human Rights. Discrimination of Macedonians in Bulgaria has been reflected in every report on human rights in Bulgaria prepared by an international organization over the past 18 years, which prompted Bulgaria to be placed under an increased monitoring by the Committee of ministers, the organization said in a statement.

OMO “Ilinden” – Pirin notes that Radev has rejected their requests for a meeting, where they would be able to state their case and call for an end to the “systemic discrimination, hate speech and marginalization of the Macedonian minority” in Bulgaria. Radev recently met with representatives of ethnic Bulgarians from Macedonia, who have similar complaints, but has denounced Pendarovski’s meeting with the Macedonians from Bulgaria.