1. Introduction

On September 8th, 1991 the citizens of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in a referendum, expressed their desire for independence. On December 19th, 1991 the Macedonian Parliament passed a written declaration calling for international recognition of the Republic of Macedonia.

Ljubco Georgievski, chairman of VMRO-DPMNE [1], the largest opposition party in the Republic of Macedonia points out:
"The Macedonian people in its long history had only twice the right of a free self-determination by a referendum: in 1991 when we voted for an independent Macedonia and in 1871 when with a decree the (Ottoman) sultan allowed an equally free referendum and when the Macedonian people with a majority of over two thirds accepted the Bulgarian Exarchy as their own."[2]

The referendum of 1991 was formulated deviously: Voters were asked to declare whether there were for an Independent Macedonian Republic which would have the right to enter into (a possible future) Union of Sovereign Yugoslav States. According to the recently adopted constitution [3] the:
"Republic of Macedonia is constituted as a national state of the Macedonian people with established complete equality for its citizens and permanent co-existence of the Macedonian people with the Albanians, the Turks, the Vlahs, the Gypsies and other nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia" .

Apparently, the authors of the constitution did not regard the Albanians, the Turks, the Vlahs et c. as parts of the 'Macedonian people' whose national state the Republic of Macedonia was supposed to be, but as only minorities who have the right to co-exist with it.

To understand better the current situation in the Republic of Macedonia, it is necessary to analyse the meaning given by the authorities to the term 'Macedonian people' and the processes that are developing among the main ethnic group - the descendants of the people who by the first free referendum of 1871 seceded from the (Greek) Patriarchy of Constantinopol and adopted the Bulgarian Exarchy as their own national church.

The present Republic of Macedonia was established as an autonomous state within the boundaries of Tito's Yugoslavia in 1944. Communism was proclaimed to be the dominant social ideology while the adopted national doctrine was supposedly derived from the ideas of the left-wing fraction of the Macedonian liberation movement (if the so-called VMRO(united) could be considered to be a part of the Macedonian liberation movement). Nevertheless a number of deviations even from the Macedonian left-wingers' party line were made. For example, according to VMRO (united):
"the Macedonian people" consists of "all the nationalities that used to live and still live there, and in behalf of whom we speak of: Bulgarians, Albanians, Turks, Jews, Vlahs, Greeks, Gypsies."[4]

If we compare the definitions given even by the most leftist fraction from the early XX century and that of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia we shall see that the political and the geographical content of the meaning to the term 'Macedonian people' was replaced with an invented ethnical one.

The concept of the Macedonians as an ethnic group, approved by the Comintern in the 30s and adopted by the Yugoslav regime in Macedonia after 1944 was NOT a home grown one! It was first formulated by the 19th century Serbian politician Stojan Novakovic. In a report to the Serbian Ministry of Education he wrote in 1887:
" Since the Bulgarian idea, as it is known to everyone has grown deep roots in Macedonia I think that it is almost impossible for us to shake the believe in it by opposing to it only the Serbian idea...That is why the Serbian idea could use an ally, which could be sharply opposed to the Bulgarianness and could contain the elements that could attract the people and the peoples' sentiments while deviating them away from the Bulgarianness." [5] Such a policy he called Macedonism.

The Yugoslav authorities in Macedonia after 1944 spent much more efforts to promote Macedonism as an anti-Bulgarian and a pro-Serbian ethnical doctrine, than for the imposition of communism as a social ideology. Unless we keep this fact in mind, the nature of the processes going on at the moment among the people in the Republic of Macedonia will remain obscure.

As in all emerging communist states the 'class enemies of the people' were brutally persecuted, but in Macedonia the 'enemies of the people' were invariably accused of being Bulgarophils, Vanchovists' or 'Mihailovists' [6] and 'vrhovists'[7]

The policy of spreading Macedonism did not change in any fundamental way after the proclamation of the Macedonian Republic as an independent State in 1991. Some Orwellian practices continue to be implemented. Presently in the Republic of Macedonia we can find schools named: Miladinov Brothers, Rajko Zinzifov, Kuzman Sapkarev etc., while the students who study in them do not have the access to the literary works of the patrons of their schools in original, for the simple reason that those people not only wrote in literary Bulgarian, but also participated in the codification of the Bulgarian literary norm on the basis of dialects spoken all over the Bulgarian lands, including of course the Macedonian region.

The main political party in Macedonia that sought and brought about the Republic's independence was VMRO- DPMNE (Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity). The drive for independence was opposed by the former communists and by a group known as the Union of Fighters from the War of Liberation (UFWL).

For example, on March 6, 1991, the structures of UFWL in Bitola, Tetovo, Ressen and other areas, declared that the demands for independence launched by VMRO-DPMNE were "in service of the plans for assimilation made by the neighbouring States". At a 'protest' meeting held in a pensioners hall in Kichevo, a declaration which branded the statements of VMRO-DPMNE as "positions of Vanchovism and Bulgarianism" was promulgated.

Nevertheless VMRO-DPMNE did not officially declared itself as an ethnic Bulgarian organisation.

On August 11th, 1991, that party organised a memorial service in Strumitsa for five students from that town who were killed in 1951 by the Communist regime. This students had declared that they were ethnic Bulgarians (Liuben Topchev, the brother of Stefan Topchev, one of the executed students, today is a political emigrant in USA and as a member of the Macedonian Patriotic Organisation (MPO) is active in supporting the Bulgarian ethnic consciousness in Macedonia [8]). In the memorial service, however, the students were presented as 'Macedonians'. Why this was so remains unclear, and is not an object of our analysis.