In 1946 with the commencement of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949),  the former SNOF militants returned to Greece and joined the Democratic Army in Greece (the Communist guerrilla forces), whilst they also set up their own party organization called NOF.  Their aspirations, including amongst others to obtain the endorsement of the KKE in annexing Greek Macedonia into a united Slavic “Greater Macedonia”, were never fulfilled. With the termination of the Greek Civil War, the defeated Macedoslavs left Greece and this matter was settled once and for all.

In August 1946, during the 10th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bulgaria voted in favour of a resolution to indoctrinate the population of “Pirin” (the Bulgarian part of Macedonia) with the “Macedonian” sense of identity. “Measures would be taken” the resolution stated, to enhance “cultural autonomy” and “ethnic self awareness” within the population of this area.  The official Bulgarian 1947 Census counted most of the inhabitants of Pirin not as Bulgarians, but as “Macedonians”. The aim was eventually to form the People’s Republic of Macedonia which would encompass all the Macedonian regions. In July 1947 Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia and the Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov met in Bled and agreed to work towards the establishment of this planned federation. In the words of Dimitrov himself:

…all the unsolved problems bequeathed by the bourgeois-monarchic regimes with regard to the union of the Macedonian of Pirin with the People’s Republic of Macedonia and also in connection with the return of Bulgaria of the Western border regions will find their proper solution within the framework of the Federation…”

Although the bilateral Bled agreement was ratified again by the Treaty of Cooperation and Mutual Assistance signed in Varna (November 1947), the actual federation was never implemented only because the USSR quashed such a plan.[1] However, as the Bulgarians were committed to cultivating the “Macedonian cause” amongst the inhabitants of Pirin, they brought teachers from Skopje to instruct children in the Macedonian-Slavonic language/dialect, encouraged the publication of “Macedonian” newspapers, and accepted the emergence of a “Macedonian” theatre. In July 1948, this process was suddenly brought to an abrupt end, when Tito became the outcast of the international communist movement. The Bulgarian Communists sided with Stalin and thus the teachers from Skopje were expelled and the schools and newspapers closed.  But the concept of a unified Macedonia was not officially denounced. The difference was now that the unified Macedonian Republic would be controlled by Bulgaria and USSR. This situation only lasted at least until 1955, when Khrushchev visited Belgrade. Polemics ended and Bulgaria followed suit, stopping the anti-Yugoslav propaganda over Macedonia.[2]The honeymoon, however, did not last long. In the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia Tito condemned the 1956 Soviet invasion in Hungary, in an attempt to maintain a policy of equidistance from the two power blocks.  Immediately, Bulgaria attacked Yugoslavia accusing Belgrade that their authorities are trying to turn the people of Vardar valley, who are “Bulgarians nationals” into Serbians. This polemic campaign lasted at least until the early 1960s. The ensuing two decades did not bring any change in the situation. Meanwhile during this period Belgrade and Skopje launched a vociferous campaign against the Bulgarians, accusing them of persecuting minorities and of coveting Yugoslav territories. This campaign reached its climax in July 1978 when President Zivkov proposed to Tito the two countries to sign an agreement pledging not to raise any territorial claims against each other.  This proposal was rejected by Yugoslavia while the verbal onslaught against Bulgaria for her treatment of the “Macedonian” minority in Pirin continued unabated.

From 1976 onwards, the Yugoslav government increased it public criticism against Greece as well. Belgrade accused Greece for not recognizing a “Macedonian minority” alleging even heir mistreatment by the Greek authorities.  Numerous books were compiled on the subject in Skopje promoting the rights of the “Macedonians” residing in Greece.  It was during this period of time that the Macedoslav Diasporas were used by Belgrade to inflame the situation abroad. Emotional charges were created by semi-ignorance and cleverly engineered nationalism instilled by the various missionaries sent out by Skopje to centres of immigration led to extreme behaviours. Amongst the characteristic examples of this were the wild public demonstrations of the Macedoslavs against the 1st International Congress on Macedonia held in Melbourne in February 1988 and organized by the Australian Institute for Macedonian Studies. The reason was that Greek Macedonians, indigenous by more than 1,000 years prior to the arrival of the Slavs in the region, “dared” to use the name Macedonia and debate various academic issues referring to Macedonia.


[1]  Stalin and Churchill met in Moscow on the 19th October 1944 and reached an agreement on proportions leaving Greece under the British influence and Bulgaria and Yugoslavia under the Soviet. This explains why Tolbukhin’s armies did not cross the Greco-Bulgarian border in spite of Erythriadis’s appeals, why the “allied” Bulgarian forces withdrew from the Aegean seaside –for the third time in 32 years. This also explains why, on the other side of Macedonia, brigades of Tito’s partisans in positions along the Greek borders, were suddenly ordered to move, not towards Thessaloniki, but northwards, in pursuit of the retreating German forces.

[2] Most importantly, in the 1956 Bulgarian census the inhabitants of Pirin , once again, were designated as “Macedonians”