Eli Yurukova: The New Old Serbian Nationalism and Bulgaria

I know one thing Bulgarians do not hate Serbs, nor do Serbs hate Bulgarians. We are neighbours, connected forever, we live next to each other, and here is the Bulgarian minority in Serbia, which has been fighting for its rights for years - sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Balkan realities in the heart of Europe. European values ​​in the heart of the Balkans. Therefore, we cannot look impartially at the growing nationalism and hysteria of Serbian politicians, who see enemies in any country that does not think like them.

A special, but not the only, case is the UN resolution on the genocide in Srebrenica, which is a historical fact whose interpretation Belgrade abuses. Nowhere is it mentioned that the Serbian people are genocidal. Genocide was committed by the military commanders and politicians who ordered this crime and must surely be punished. But the thesis that the whole world wants to put the stamp on the ordinary Serb, who also experienced the horrors of the war in the former Yugoslavia, is a dangerous nationalist attempt to stir up false patriotism and new hatred in the region.

The resolution on Srebrenica and 8,000 victims in Bosnia is a fact, everyone votes according to their conscience. Where is Bulgaria here? Until the last moment, President Aleksandar Vucic was expecting a surprise from Bulgaria and that she would vote to abstain from the UN document.

Serbs are not a genocidal people, it was written on the skyscraper in the centre of Belgrade. The media in Serbia created a dangerous nationalist atmosphere that brought them back to the days of war 30 years ago. Even from the Serbian camp in Montenegro, the statement was heard that "Montenegro is the Bulgarian Montenegro." In the comments of the official Politika newspaper, we can read: "When were the Bulgarians friends?", "A knife in the back of Serbia is in the Bulgarian genes", and "This is the first mistake of Vucic, that he believed in Bulgaria". And another comment: "Recently I met a man and I asked him if he is Bulgarian, and he answered me: Yes, I am Bulgarian. A bribed and unscrupulous Bulgarian who stabs everyone in the back".

Anti-Bulgarian propaganda is part of Serbian nationalism, which always and still creates a dispute between Belgrade and Sofia because it has become a political ritual for Serbian politicians to beat their chests and demonstrate that they are real Serbs who protect the interests of the Serbian people. This euphoria is also transferred to ordinary Serbs, who fall victim to political mystique and propaganda. The distortion of history and facts, and in this aspect also of relations with Bulgaria, is a Serbian political speciality that does not bring peace, but unrest.

Can the headline in the media: "Bulgarian is surprised by his arrival in Serbia" and his statement that until now he thought that Serbs hate Bulgarians and that Serbs like to talk to them in English more than in Bulgarian? Nothing should surprise us. Some time ago, Vucic made a statement that "he will not speak against Bulgaria, even when we receive signals that Pirot is part of Bulgaria."

Serbia has its own way and its politicians will be responsible for whether it is right or not. Once upon a time, Milosevic's TV stations played the film "Bay Ganyo"*: weekly with the hidden message: this is Bulgaria and the Bulgarians! If then we could forgive the mistakes of the Serbian dictator, now we cannot help but fear the growing Serbian nationalism that we thought was forgotten. Because the wrong assessment that the whole world hates the Serbs and they should unite in one "Serbian world" brings new temptations. The upcoming All-Serb Assembly and Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik's proposal to secede from Bosnia will intensify these concerns very quickly. Peace is what is needed in the European Balkans. Primarily. /BGNES

* Bay Ganyo is a fictional character created by the Bulgarian author Aleko Konstantinov (1863–1897). He is considered an exemplary image of an anti-hero - an uneducated, ignorant, egoistic and poor villager, pretty much in the style of Schweik by Jaroslav Hašek or Till Eulenspiegel, a German peasant trickster whose merry pranks were the source of numerous folk and literary tales - editor's note.


Eli Yurukova, BGNES correspondent in Belgrade