The Bulgarians strongly support Accession of Macedonia to the EU: 87% approve the role of our country in this process. This is what the latest national representative survey of the Institute of Politics shows.
The research is dedicated to the topic of relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia. The survey research data show that the attitudes of the Bulgarians toward the Macedonians are extremely positive: 51% of the surveyed people claim that the Macedonians are close to or the same people with the Bulgarians. The majority of them are the 26-35 years group and people over 65 years of age.
In examining the real contacts between the two nations it is found that 78% say they have no relatives and friends in Macedonia. Most people who keep the memory are such elderly people as those with a higher educational degree. What the explanation is that more educated people have a better ancestral, genetic memory.
The Institute of Politics survey registers active exchanges at the level of business, training, tourism: 47% of the Bulgarians have indicated they have visited Macedonia on the above mentioned occasions. Among them the most active people are between 36-60 years of age, as well as the people with a higher education. Research of the people surveyed identify the probable areas of future collaboration and cooperation as the education, the research history of the two peoples, the common celebrations, the struggle against terrorism and drug trafficking, the energetics, the trade, the customs duty relief, the transport links and the mutual investments.
The Treaty of Good Neighbourhood signed in August 2000 between the two countries has had an extremely serious impact on the attitudes and knowledge of the Bulgarians on Macedonia: 87% have learned a lot of new and interesting things about our neighbour or have changed their attitudes positively in August. This has most strongly influenced the respondents in the range of 26-56 years. Again, the level of education turns out to be a factor, and the higher educated people are a majority. 85% of the people believe that the past has created artificial remoteness between the citizens of both countries, and that both countries and their citizens have a common history or periods of same history. The youngest people who are about 18-25 years old (30%) are mostly unfamiliar with the history of Bulgaria and Macedonia.
The value of the common history is recognized by 64% of the surveyed people. 27% say that inspite of it, it is irrelevant to the modern times. 91% of the Bulgarians claim that the language we speak is the same or with common roots . Only 8% think that the Bulgarian and the Macedonian languages are different.
However, 43% recognize Macedonia’s right to self-identify their own language. This is an indicator of the high tolerance of the Bulgarians which is strongly expressed up to the age of 65. The young and the active Bulgarians are the ones that dominate the trend.
The answer to the question of whether there is a Macedonian nation other than the Bulgarian one, 72% say that the Macedonian nation was established in the 20th century and is close to the Bulgarian one. The common attitude is: one nation, two peoples.
The Bulgarians are convinced that they are a bridge for Macedonia on the way to EU membership (80%). Almost the same percentage supports our neighbour for joining the Union.
56% of the Bulgarians know the historical fact that Bulgaria was the first country which recognized the independence of Macedonia. Again older people and people with higher education are more familiar with it.
It is noteworthy that people who identify themselves as extreme left-wing politicians are more aware of this part of history than the others.
In the controversial recent history of Bulgaria and Macedonia, a close, native and warm attitude towards Macedonia and the Macedonian citizens is kept in the consciousness of the Bulgarians.
Unfortunately, this story has separated us in contacts but has not prevented the Bulgarians from keeping an extreme tolerance and giving the right of freedom to make a choice of self-identification of our neighbours.
The intensive cooperation between the two countries over the last months now and for the foreseeable future benefits for diminishing the distance and strengthening the desire for mutual exchange and communication.
You can see the entire study here.