If the Bulgarian rule in Macedonia in World War Two was an administration, does that make our partisans who fought them “terrorists”, asked VMRO-DPMNE party official Ilija Dimovski after the shocking interview by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. Speaking with the Bulgarian BGNES news agency, Zaev eagerly accepted all Bulgarian positions on historic disputes, including that the Bulgarian occupation during World War Two was mere “administration” of the country.

Are you going to be silent on this?, Dimovski said, calling out SDSM party officials who have not yet denounced Zaev’s comments such as Ilinka Mitreva, Irena Stefoska, Ljudmil Spasov, Nikola Dimitrov, and of course, President Stevo Pendarovski, who was personally insulted by Zaev during the interview. “If our grandfathers fought an ‘administration’ between 1941 and 1944, that makes them ‘terrorists’ and ‘murderers’, and not ‘liberators’. At least according to international law”, Dimovski said.

He also condemned Zaev for blurring the distinction between the Macedonian and the Bulgarian nation and the respective languages. Zaev said that there is no difference in the language spoken in his native Strumica and the city of Petric, across the border. Dimovski responded that this is the case all along the Macedonian borders, including the border with Greece where the spoken language in the cities of Bitola and Lerin or between Gevgelija and Gumendza are the same, and are dialects of the Macedonian language, not proof that the Macedonian language is Bulgarian.

Zaev is facing fierce criticism from many corners of his own coalition, but especially from the right. Aleksandar Pandov, head of the Patriotic Institute of the VMRO-DPMNE party, said that Zaev is disgracing the graves of 24,000 victims of Bulgarian occupation during World War Two when he refers to the fascist occupation as “administration” and later even Bulgarian liberation of parts of Macedonia.

What is this common history you speak of, the same history pushed on us by their Defense Minister Karakacanov? Are you agreeing that we speak a Bulgarian dialect? What will Goce Delcev be listed as, a Macedonian born in Kukus, in Aegean Macedonia, or a Bulgaro-Macedonian revolutionary, as you refer to him, Pandov asked Zaev.


Former SDSM member of Parliament Solza Grceva, who split with her party over its concessions on issues of national identity, also blasted Zaev’s interview with the BGNES agency.

Zaev brought same on my family, who were partisans, by stating that Bulgaria liberated us twice – once as fascists and once as communists. Zaev’s comments defy common sense. We still have alive participants of the anti-fascist struggle, we have their children and grand-children, we know the songs they sang, Grceva said. She also called Zaev out for his statement that he has ordered the removal of 20 plaques commemorating skirmishes with the Bulgarian army, which used the term “fascists” to describe the Bulgarian forces. Grceva asked Zaev with what right did he order the removal of monuments from the Second World War?