Ivan Nikolov: The sabotage against the Bulgarians in Serbia and the peace and security of the Western Balkans

In the last two decades alone, the Bulgarians in Serbia have halved, in Bosilegrad even by two-thirds.

On the occasion of the awarding of my grace with the Order of the Stara Planina I degree, the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev, among other things, said: "Bulgaria is the main engine of European integration in the Western Balkans and the main criterion by which we will give support is the situation of our compatriots in each country - the conditions for their economic and social development, and above all the opportunity for them to defend their national identity, language, culture, historical memory".

This general and principled European statement, despite all its diplomatic restraint, in the Serbian electronic publication "Blitz" of June 7, was greeted as "Unprovoked Bulgarian sabotage against Serbia and the threat of veto on EU membership"!?

Very strange logic indeed.

The Serbian reading of Radev's words was that Bulgaria will veto Serbia's EU membership because it insists on improving the situation of Bulgarians in Serbia, or more precisely "the conditions for their economic and social development, and above all their opportunity to defend their national identity, language, culture, historical memory"!?

So, Bulgaria's legitimate concern for its compatriots in the countries of the Western Balkans and their economic and social development and the opportunity to defend their national identity, language, culture and historical memory, according to the Serbian interpretation, is "sabotage against Serbia"?!

Serbia has often demanded the same thing for Serbs in neighbouring countries, but so far no one has called this legitimate demand of theirs "sabotage".

In order to prove (to whom?) that the situation of the Bulgarians in the Western outskirts is wonderful, the Serbian rulers brought out their heavy artillery - the "official Bulgarian" Stefan Stoykov, chairman of the so-called National Council of the Bulgarian National Minority in Serbia, who, in his capacity as a spokesperson for the ruling party of Vucic and Mayor Vladimir Zahariev, categorically stated that he was "...satisfied with Serbia's attitude towards our minority"!?

Mr. Stoykov repeated approximately the same statement to Politika on June 8, deploying the well-worn thesis that "the Bulgarian minority is not discriminated against and dissatisfied, on the contrary, it is extremely satisfied with Serbia's attitude towards it", and even following the example of Hungary, advised Bulgaria to give the money of the Bulgarian taxpayers to the National Council, and not to finance individual NGOs and, notice, without him knowing!?

Obviously, Mr. Stoykov lives in the role of a spokesman for official policy, and not in the role of a spokesman for his own constituents, as should be expected. Otherwise, he could not remain indifferent to the daily pains and sufferings of his fellow citizens of Bulgarian origin, for whom, according to the Law on the National Councils of Minorities, he had to advocate at least in the fields of education, culture, information and the official use of the language.

Let's recall again.

Bulgarians in Serbia have halved in the last two decades alone, in Bosilegrad even by two-thirds, the municipalities with a Bulgarian population are among the most economically backward in Serbia, the environment in Bosilegrad is not only polluted, but also threatens one or two other countries, the presentation of Bulgarian books in Bosilegrad is punishable, Bulgarian history and culture are distorted with the aim of defaming Bulgarians, anti-Bulgarian events in Surdulitsa are becoming unbearable, Bulgarian children in kindergarten have their mother tongue replaced, the teaching of the Bulgarian language has never worked, informing the Bulgarian language is strictly manipulative, there is no official use of the Bulgarian language, people leave their hometown en masse, but Stoykov is satisfied, and even thanks Serbia for all this!?

If this is not sabotage against the Bulgarian minority, against Bulgarian-Serbian relations and Serbia's membership in the EU, say hello to him.

Of course, he neither can nor dares say that the real subversion against the peace and security of the Western Balkans in the past and today, and probably in the future, is precisely the policy he defends because of his wretched position in the (anti)National Council of the Bulgarian minority.

Sabotage against the peace and security of the Western Balkans is precisely the Serbian aspiration for unification with the Republika Srpska and the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the division of Kosovo, the control of North Macedonia and Montenegro. The action for "recognition of Kosovo", and the attempts to fail the Resolution on Srebrenica in the UN to avoid responsibility for the crimes against humanity is also sabotage.

But the real sabotage is Mr. Stoykov's, because with these statements he simply blows things up, instead of building bridges with the mother country and with Europe in the interest of the Bulgarian minority, on whose behalf he claims to speak. He is "satisfied" because of his well-paid sinecure position in the National Council and does not look at what is going on behind the curtain. I have no doubt he is pleased. Drug addicts are content in the middle of their next dose and don't realize or care that it is slowly and surely killing them. IBGNES

Ivan Nikolov is a poet, writer and public figure. Chairman of the Bulgarian Cultural and Information Center in Bosilegrad. Chief and responsible editor of the magazine "Bulletin". Author of four poetry collections and the book "Bulgarians in Yugoslavia - The Last Versailles Exiles". Ivan Nikolov's analysis was written especially for the BGNES Agency.