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Old 09-15-2010, 09:28 PM   #9
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Macedonians are not Bulgars

January 29, 2008, by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

In the deliberately confused political landscape of the Central Balkans, historical truth, moral standards, ideological clarity, and political resoluteness are necessary for all if peace, progress and prosperity are truly sought after.

The fabricated nationalistic falsehood, diffused in various Balkan countries by entrapped chauvinistic parties, associations and organizations, has far reaching consequences that the various propagandists cannot even imagine; this is the reason they stick to their historical falsehood that will finally be detrimental to them as well. Few have perceived so far the real end of the nationalisms incited in most of the Balkan states by the Anglo-French colonial establishments since the early 19th century; even fewer can see clearly the impending dangers due to the chauvinistic rekindling perpetrated again by the Anglo-French diplomats and advisors since 1991.

One of the worst lies diffused among various Balkan peoples is the assumption that the Modern Macedonians are Bulgarians; the argument is mostly linguistic and has to do with the apparent vicinity between the Macedonian and the Bulgarian languages.

It would be parallel to the hypothesis that the Portuguese are Spaniards, because Portuguese and Castillan Spanish have great similarities. Indeed, before 500 years the Galician language of NW Spain (gallego) and Portuguese were one and the same Iberian language (named gallego – portugues); they diverged in more recent eras. However, as no nationalistic feelings were involved in this case, not a single Spaniard ever denied the authenticity of the Portuguese nation and language. Unfortunately, the same did not happen in the case of the Macedonians.

I am delighted to have gone through an excellent essay composed by two great Macedonian scholars and intellectuals, Aleksandar Donski and Risto Stefov, that focuses precisely on this subject; indeed, the Macedonians have nothing to do with the Bulgars, and even most Bulgarians are not Bulgars – to repeat here the subtitle of this excellent analysis. Before publishing here integrally the pertinent contribution that completely clarifies the issue, I will present a brief biographical sketch of the two intellectuals.

Alexander Donski was born in 1960 in Štip, Republic of Macedonia; he is a Macedonian historian, writer and translator. He is known for his work about Macedonian history in which he argues for ethnic continuity between modern Slav Macedonians and the ancient population of Macedon, as well as for an ancient and fundamental ethnic distinction between Macedonians and Bulgarians (

Risto Stefov, was born in 1953 in the village Oshchima, Lerin / Florina Region, in Macedonian Greece. As his family immigrated to Canada in 1966, Risto completed his secondary education in Canada (Westview Centennial Secondary School) and in 1978 got his Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Risto was recruited by the Village Association Benefit Society Oshchima (formed in 1907) where he served for many years on the board of directors and was later voted President, a title which he holds to this day. In the early 1990´s, he joined the newly formed Lerin Region Macedonian Cultural Association of Ontario where he served on the board of directors for two terms as treasurer and just recently completed his second term as President.

Macedonians are not Bulgars

(Even most Bulgarians are not Bulgars)

By Aleksandar Donski and Risto Stefov

January 24, 2008

It is high time the truth be known that Bulgarians know very little about their own history. It is a well known fact that Bulgarian propaganda has influenced many Macedonians to believe that they are Bulgarian but the facts show differently.

Let us begin by asking some questions like: "Who were the Bulgars of History?", "How do these historic Bulgars relate to the modern Bulgarians?" and "Could these Bulgars be the ancestors of the modern Macedonians?"

Before answering the above questions we need to make a couple of points:

(1) According to mainstream history to which most of the world subscribes today, the Slavs arrived in the Balkans around the 5th and 6th centuries AD while the Bulgars arrived in the Balkans about a century and a half later.

(2) Also according to mainstream history, the Bulgars were Oriental people who had names like Kubrat, Omurtag, Telec, Toktu, Pagan, Cok, etc., and spoke an Asiatic language.

A common argument Bulgarians make today is that Tsar Samoil´s kingdom was "Bulgarian" and that Macedonian historiographers are attempting to hide this from the world. Is this true?

According to mainstream history Tsar Samoil ruled a vast region that encompassed today´s Bulgaria , Macedonia , Greece , Albania , Montenegro , Serbia , Bosnia and even Croatia . But if we are to believe the Bulgarians that Samoil´s kingdom was Bulgarian then we must also believe that there were no Macedonians, Greeks, Albanians, Montenegrins, Serbians, Bosnians or Croatians in Samoil´s kingdom and that all these people were actually "Bulgarians"!

The truth is that Tsar Samoil´s kingdom was a multi-ethnic kingdom and the same can be said about his army. Clearly Macedonia was the center of Samoil´s kingdom where he had his capitals but he recruited his soldiers from the various ethnic groups living in his vast kingdom.

So, the Bulgarian argument that Samoil´s kingdom was Bulgarian is clearly false.

How then do we account for some Byzantine authors calling Samoil´s army ´Bulgar´?"

There are historic documents that show that Byzantine authors did use the word "Bulgars" to refer to Samoil´s soldiers. These however were not ethnic references. These were more like references to a certain "class" of people.

When the "Bulgars" arrived in the Balkans around the 7th century AD, their behaviour seemed unusual and barbaric. They were described by some as wild and highly uncivilized barbaric people who ate raw meat and buried their prisoners alive. In the eyes of the more cultivated Byzantines, besides being barbaric, these "Bulgars" seemed "uneducated", "primitive" and "dirty". With time the word "Bulgar" too became associated with "uneducated", "primitive" and "dirty".

Even today in modern Greek the word "bulgar" means "primitive". The French too define "Bulgar poetry" as the poetry of "common people". In some Macedonian dialects the verb "se izbugari" means "to have become rotten".

Therefore it would appear that some Byzantine authors called Samoil´s soldiers "Bulgars" not because they were ethnic Bulgarians but because they looked poor, dirty and seemed uneducated and primitive like the real Bulgars.

Assuming that during Tsar Samoil´s reign Macedonians were actually "Bulgars" as the modern Bulgarians would have us believe, then "Who were the historical Bulgars from whom they descended?"

Mainstream history tells us that the first Bulgars arrived in the Balkans around the 7th century AD and established their first State in the northeastern part of present day Bulgaria in 681 AD. If we are to believe that, and we have no reason not to, then who lived in Macedonia before the arrival of the Bulgars?

Those who subscribe to the "Slav migration theory" would say it was the Slavs who lived in Macedonia and had lived there for at least one and a half centuries before the arrival of the Bulgars.

Those who believe that the Macedonians descended from the ancient Macedonians, would say Macedonians lived in Macedonia at least a thousand years before the arrival of the Bulgars.

History also tells us that the "Bulgars" never settled in Macedonia . They may have looted and pillaged Macedonia but they never settled there. In fact when the Bulgars conducted campaigns in Macedonia they conducted them against the Macedonians.

Byzantine author Leonnis Diakonis in his book "History" wrote: "In September, Simeon the Bulgarian, advanced with his army against Constantinople . He robbed Thrace and Macedonia where he devastated and ruined everything." This testimony is taken from a Bulgarian history book (GIBI).

Nicholaos Mystikos also offers testimony about Bulgarian Middle Age terror in Macedonia : "ruined homes, burned churches and monasteries, raped virgins and tortured priests..."

There are many such testimonies of Bulgarian atrocities committed in Macedonia . Why would the Bulgars do that to themselves if Macedonians were truly Bulgarian?

If we are to assume, as some Bulgarians have done, that the Macedonians have descended from the Bulgars, then we need to have some basis for "when" the Macedonians became "Bulgars"; what century, what year and what month on which to make our assumptions? Obviously such information does not exist because the Macedonians are not and never where Bulgars!

Again then why are such claims still made? From what we know from history the Bulgars did invade Macedonia a couple of times for short periods of time during the Middle Ages. Unfortunately this act alone does not qualify as a valid reason for Macedonians to have become Bulgars. This is like saying because of Hitler´s occupation of France for four years, the French people are now ethnic Germans.

The most obvious reason of course for Macedonians and others to be claiming to be Bulgars then is the same reason as Macedonians claimed to be Turks, Greeks, Serbians, etc., later and that is because by doing so they had something to gain.

Even today, after Yugoslavia ´s disintegration we have some 200 self declared Yugoslavs living in Macedonia . Why? Especially since Yugoslavia no longer exists? These people declared themselves Yugoslavs because they obviously had some personal connection to Yugoslavia and not necessarily because they were "ethnic Yugoslavs". Similarly some Macedonians during the Middle Ages declared themselves Bulgars because they had something to gain.

Another point to make is that there were no declared Yugoslavians in Macedonia before Yugoslavia came to exist just as there were no declared Bulgarians in Macedonia before the Bulgars invaded and briefly occupied parts of Macedonia in the 9th century.

Unlike Bulgaria or Yugoslavia however, the names Macedonia and Macedonian have never disappeared since ancient times.

In conclusion, claims made by Bulgarians that Bulgars exist in Macedonia (like those of Yugoslavs existing in Macedonia ) are a result of some social or economic factor and not necessarily because they are "ethnic Bulgars". Even today Macedonians declare themselves as Bulgarians so that they can get Bulgarian passports and be able to work in the European Union. Obviously, this is a reflection of economic factors rather than of ethnic ones.

It is often said: "Macedonians, Bulgarians, they are the same people, after all they speak the same Bulgarian language; right?"

Statements such as the above are more a reflection of modern day Bulgarian propaganda than they are a reflection of historical reality.

We have shown above that the Bulgars arrived in the Balkans during the 7th century AD and that they were an Oriental group that spoke an Asiatic language. Today´s Bulgarians however, are a predominantly Caucasian group of people who speak a Slavic language. We have also shown above that when the Bulgars arrived in the Balkans they found people living there, speaking a Slavic language.

So, given the above statements we can conclude that the Macedonians are not Bulgarians and they do not speak the Bulgar language. However, given that the historic Bulgars were Orientals and spoke an Asiatic language and the modern Bulgarians are predominantly Caucasian and speak a Slavic language, we can also see that there is an inconsistency in the Bulgarian model which postulates that the modern Bulgarians are the descendants of the historic Bulgars.

If we were to ask any modern Bulgarian today about who his or her ancestors were, he or she would say they were khan Kubrat and khan Asparuh (whose name in Bulgarian means "swift horse"). But, as we can see Kubrat and Asparuh were Orientals! Also the title "khan" is a well-known Mongolian title. So then, how is it possible that Caucasians have descended from Orientals?

We also know from history that the Bulgars were a very small group in comparison to those they found in the Balkans. It is conceivable then to assume that the small oriental group of people who spoke an Asiatic language was assimilated by the larger group of Caucasian people who lived on those lands and spoke a Slavic language.

So, the next question that begs to be asked is: "Who were these Caucasians from whom the modern Bulgarians descended?"

The truth is that today´s modern Bulgarians, to a large extent are the descendants of a small mix of "historic Bulgars" with a heaping large mix of historic Thracians, Slavs, Antes, Ancient Macedonians, Vlachs and other people who lived in the regions of modern day Bulgaria.

According to the renowned Bulgarian historian Dimitar Angelov, more that 100,000 Caucasian Thracians lived in Bulgaria in the beginning of the Middle Ages. There is no historic event to show that these people moved or vanished so it is conceivable that the small Oriental Turko-Mongo Bulgar tribe melted among the great ancient Thracian tribes producing the modern Bulgarian nation.

Professor Angelov also mentioned that many Thracian cultural elements such as customs and people´s names still do exist in Bulgaria to this day.

Why then do modern Bulgarians, the vast majority of whom are Caucasians, still claim to be the descendants of the Khans who in fact were Orientals?

The answer to this question lies in the 19th century when the Bulgarian people began their struggle to liberate themselves from the Turks. At that time most Bulgarian revolutionaries were educated in Russia which instilled in them that they were the descendants of the fierce fighting Khans. As true as that may be, Russia failed to instill in them that the modern Bulgarians are also the descendants of the mighty ancient Thracians, a descent which they partly share with the Macedonians.

So there is some truth to the rumors that Macedonians and Bulgarians are the same people, or should we say similar people, since both partly descended from the ancient Thracians and they both speak dialects of languages that have Thracian words.

Should our readers require more information or clarification on any of the above subjects, please feel free to write to us at [email protected] (Aleksandar Donski, author of the book Ethno-genetic differences between Bulgarians and Macedonians), or [email protected] (Risto Stefov, author of the book History of the Macedonian People from Ancient Times to the Present).
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