Dimitar Ruskov: Hysteria near Vardar! Bulgarians in Albania are three times more than North Macedonians


Another anti-Bulgarian hysteria has conquered North Macedonia. This time the reason is the results of the census in Albania, which shows that the Bulgarians in Albania are three times more than the North Macedonians. The census took place in September-October last year and is part of the country's preparations to start EU membership negotiations. The main objective of the census is to gather facts on the demographic, social and especially economic profile of the future EU member state. According to the information published by the National Statistical Institute of Albania, the number of Bulgarians in the country is 7,057, while the number of North Macedonians is 2,281. 

These results have brought hysteria to the leaders of the Macedonian nationalists in Albania. The party "Alliance of Macedonians in Albania for European Integration" (MAEI), announced that the census leads to "assimilation of Macedonians in Albania", and Pandi Jani from the "Freedom Party for Mala Prespa", said that "Bulgarians in Albania are only those working in the Bulgarian embassy in Tirana" - a thesis systematically supported by MAEI. Additionally, they claim that there are no Bulgarians in Albania because there has not been a single Bulgarian recorded in the censuses for the last 100 years. Both parties announced that they do not accept the results of the census and will insist that it be repeated. 

Joking aside, if it is assumed that the Macedonian extremists are right, it turns out that the Bulgarian embassy in Albania is by far the largest in the world with over 7 thousand employees. 

What is the truth ? 

The census in Albania last year was the first in which the citizens of the country could tick "Bulgarian" in the box for their ethnicity. In 2017, Albania recognised the existence of a Bulgarian minority in the country, along with eight other ethnic groups. Even then, Macedonian nationalists argued that this was a mistake and Bulgarians did not exist in Albania. The Macedonian minority was recognised in Albania in the 1950s. 


The census brings with it a new type of guarantee for the protection of the collective rights of Bulgarians. This will not go down well with local Macedonian extremists, because from now on, challenging the existence of Bulgarians in Albania will be prosecuted by the prosecution service as a hate crime. 


The main fear in Skopje is that the existence of the Bulgarian minority in Albania will prove the fraudulent and anti-human character of modern Macedonism, according to which Bulgarians and Macedonians have never been one people. 

After the census results were released yesterday, scientists and historians in Albania will have to explain how the Bulgarians came to be in the country and when their cultural and historical heritage dates back? Did this cultural and historical heritage predate 1945, when the creation of the modern Macedonian identity over the Bulgarian one began by force. 

The presence of Bulgarians in Albania proves a very important fact that Bulgaria and Albania used to have a common ethnic border and it is more than logical to assume that a part of the Bulgarian people lived on the territory of today's North Macedonia long before 1945. 

The existence of Bulgarians in Albania would make it even harder for Skopje to explain the phenomenon that the Bulgarians in North Macedonia number around 3,500, while the number of Macedonian citizens who have obtained Bulgarian citizenship by descent since 2007 is close to 140,000. 

The census in Albania brought another bad news for the authorities in Skopje. According to the new formulation, the Macedonians in the country ""do not exist", because in their place "North Macedonians" have appeared. Apparently, after the change of the name of North Macedonia in 2018, the Albanian authorities have adopted the approach of calling this part of their population North Macedonians in order to distinguish between the citizens of North Macedonia and the citizens of Northern Greece, who are also called Macedonians. 

The results also show something else, namely that Albania is determined to successfully follow its European path. Unlike North Macedonia, the country realises that respect for human and minority rights is a core value and a guarantee for EU membership. | BGNES 


Dimitar Ruskov, International Department, BGNES News Agency