Blagoevgrad Oblast

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Basic data
Region: Southwest Bulgaria
Administrative headquarters: Blagoevgrad
Surface: 6,449.5 km²
Residents: 307,882 (2017)
Population density: 47.7 inhabitants per km²
NUTS: BG code: BG413
Nordmazedonien Griechenland Türkei Serbien Rumänien Oblast Lowetsch Oblast Gabrowo Oblast Targowischte Oblast Schumen Oblast Sliwen Oblast Stara Sagora Oblast Plowdiw Oblast Pasardschik Oblast Widin Oblast Montana Oblast Wraza Oblast Plewen Oblast Weliko Tarnowo Oblast Russe Oblast Rasgrad Oblast Silistra Oblast Dobritsch Oblast Warna Oblast Burgas Oblast Jambol Oblast Chaskowo Oblast Kardschali Oblast Smoljan Oblast Blagoewgrad Oblast Kjustendil Oblast Pernik Sofia Oblast Sofiamap
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The Blagoevgrad Oblast ( Bulgarian Област Благоевград ) is a region in southwestern Bulgaria . It borders Greece and North Macedonia and lies on the Struma River , which connects Bulgaria and Greece. The region belongs to the wider area of Macedonia and is therefore also referred to as Pirin Macedonia . The largest city in the region is Blagoevgrad of the same name . The Pirin National Park is located in the region .


In the Oblast (district or region) Blagoevgrad lived in the 2001 census carried out 341,173 inhabitants. 84.0% of these describe themselves as Bulgarians , 9.3% as Turks , 3.6% as Roma and less than 1.0% (3,117) as Macedonians . According to the religious creed, 79.4% are Christian and 18.3% are Muslim (mostly Pomaks ). In 2017, the population was still 307,882, according to an estimate.

The population of the region calls themselves Macedonians , a regional name.

Administrative division

The municipality of Blagoevgrad Oblast

Blagoevgrad Oblast is divided into 14 municipalities :


city Bulgarian name Population
(December 31, 2017)
Blagoevgrad Благоевград 69,417
Petritsch Петрич 27.211
Sandanski Сандански 24,968
Goze Delchev Гоце Делчев 18,433
Raslog Разлог 11,592
Bansko Банско 9,049
Simitli Симитли 6,454
Jakoruda Якоруда 5,317
Kresna Кресна 3,365
Beliza Белица 3,055
Dobrinishte Добринище 2,657
Khadzhidimovo Хаджидимово 2,508
Melnik Мелник 189

Macedonian Bulgarians

The Bulgarian population of the Macedonian landscape , especially the Bulgarian part of this region, is called Macedonian Bulgarians ( Bulgarian македонски българи ; Macedonians for short ; Bulgarian Македонци ). These Bulgarians identify with the historical region of Macedonia beyond their Bulgarian identity. On closer examination of the historical development and the current political situation in the Balkans, this term turns out to be highly problematic and politically controversial, as it is interpreted differently by different sides.

The abbreviation “Macedonian” (bulg. Македонец / makedonez), which is common in Bulgaria, can be misleading in the German translation as it can lead to confusion with the people of the Republic of North Macedonia or with the Slavic majority there, who also call themselves Makedonzi (Македонци ; transl. Makedonci, see Macedonians (Slavic ethnicity) ). In German-language literature, the vague term “Bulgarian-Macedonian population” is also used.

The Macedonian Bulgarians are not a separate ethnic group of the Bulgarians , but a regional identity that is shared by many people in this region who have different national self-confidence and speak different languages.

However, the term “Macedonian Bulgarians” is also a category of Bulgarian ethnography. The national Bulgarian view is that the ancestors of today's Macedonians have undoubtedly always been Bulgarians. Today's Macedonians were forcibly made out of Bulgarians by the Serbian communists .

“The interpretation of the ethnogenesis and formation of the southern Slavs in the region of Macedonia from prehistoric times to the present day, which originate from propagandists of history and from trained historians in Athens, Belgrade, Sofia, Thessaloniki and elsewhere, differ so greatly that they are completely incompatible are."

Accordingly, the existence of this ethnic group claimed by the Bulgarian side is denied by the Serbian , North Macedonian and Greek sides. However, the term “Macedonian Bulgarians” is rarely used in international literature.

For years Bulgaria has been taking massive action against the North Macedonian minority in the Blagoevgrad district, who state their nationality as Macedonians. The official Bulgarian side denies the existence of these " Vardar Macedonians " in Bulgaria and applies the term "Macedonians" only to the Bulgarian majority population of the Blagoevgrad Oblast.

“Macedonian Bulgarians” in the narrower sense are also the Bulgarian refugees from the areas of the Macedonian countryside who, during the turmoil of the last 150 years, emigrated to Bulgaria - voluntarily or by force - from what is now Greece and what is now the Republic of North Macedonia. In a broader sense, the Bulgarian population of “ Pirin Macedonia” is referred to as “Macedonian Bulgarians”. The part of the Macedonian movement that defines itself ethno-nationally as Bulgarian also calls itself “Macedonian Bulgarians”.

There are overlaps and contradicting statements and claims with the Slavic ethnic group Macedonians, who are the people we know today as Macedonians and who continued into the 20th century from the outside, but also partly in the self-definition for Bulgarians (or also Serbs ) was held.

“Influenced by the Enlightenment and Philhellenism, the ancient terms were used again in Western Europe at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries to denote the geographic features of European Turkey. This also led to the reuse of the historical landscape name Macedonia. ... Both for the generation strongly influenced by Pan-Slavic feelings, who resisted the dominant Greek cultural influence in the middle of the 19th century, as well as for the generation of national revolutionaries of the " Inner Macedonian Revolutionary Organization " (VMRO) founded in 1892 , the Macedonians were a regional group of the Bulgarian nation. In this sense, Macedonians are still used in Bulgaria today. "

Macedonians: Slavic ethnicity or regional identity

On the one hand there are inhabitants of Bulgaria, the political Bulgarian part of geographical Macedonia, who still consider themselves to be members of a regional-cultural sub-group of the Bulgarian nation. In this sense, as a regional identity, the term “Macedonian Bulgarians” can certainly be used in relation to the present.

However, this current population group should not be confused, mixed or even subordinated to the national identities of the Slavic-speaking population of geographical Macedonia as a whole, since the development of the Macedonians in the 20th century in the Bulgarian, Serbian, Yugoslav and Greek parts of Macedonia was significantly different .

The term "Macedonian Bulgarians", as it was used in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century to denote the Slavic-speaking population of geographical Macedonia as a whole, is to be distinguished from the identical-sounding term "Macedonian Bulgarians", which refers to a Population group in today's Bulgaria refers. They are two different things, even if the identity construct of the latter is based on the traditions of the former. But the identity construct of today's Macedonian nation does that too. Since these two interpretations are incompatible, there are differences of opinion among historians, politicians and nationalists who try to assert one of the two as the correct one.


Refugees in Bulgaria, the "Macedonian clubs" ( Association of Macedonian organizations - bulg. Съюз на македонските организации ; organizations of the Macedonian Bulgarians - bulg. Oрганизация на македонските българки ; Association of Macedonian cultural and educational associations - bulg. Съюза на македонските културно- просветни дружества ) also called themselves Macedonians. Likewise, their descendants, who founded the VMRO-BND after 1990 , still call themselves Macedonians - in relation to the region from which they come. Otherwise they consider themselves Bulgarians.

Macedonian minority

In the Blagoevgrad Oblast, the Bulgarian part of the Macedonia region, an indefinite proportion of the population considers itself to be a “Macedonian minority”. They speak the Macedonian language, according to another opinion only a special Bulgarian dialect. This other view is particularly represented by the Bulgarian side, which also largely denies the Macedonian language the status of its own language and instead only recognizes it as a dialect of the Bulgarian language, since the Bulgarian language and the Macedonian language as South Slavic languages do not differ very much from one another .

The Bulgarian side tries to prevent these Macedonians from appearing politically, as otherwise they would have to be officially recognized as a minority with all the rights associated with it.

Amnesty International reported in its 2002 annual report on people against whom legal proceedings were instituted in Blagoevgrad for leafleting “asking local residents to identify themselves as Macedonians in the census”. On the other hand, it is argued by the Bulgarian side that these people (Bulgarian ОМО Илинден-Пирин ) are a tiny group of 360 people, who make up only 0.01% of the population in the Blagoevgrad district and in the whole Bulgaria represent only 0.0048% of the population.

Amnesty International's 2007 annual report on Bulgaria also contained complaints about how the Macedonian minority was dealt with in Bulgaria.

“The authorities and the judiciary continued to deny the existence of a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and insisted on their position that there is no legal obligation to protect them. This policy was supported by all parties represented in parliament. In October the Sofia City Court denied official approval of the political party OMO Ilinden PIRIN, which represents part of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights ruled in October 2005 that the party's existing ban constituted a violation of Right to freedom of assembly and association. In November the European Parliament's rapporteur on Bulgaria and the European Commissioner responsible for EU enlargement urged the government to give OMO Ilinden PIRIN official approval. "

The Bulgarian side countered this by stating that the 500 signatures required by law to establish a party were not raised. In addition, the aim of this party violates the Bulgarian Constitution (Article 11, Clause 4), which stipulates: “No political parties may be founded on an ethnic, racial or religious basis, and no parties that seek the violent seizure of state power Have set a goal. "

Individual evidence

  1. Blagoevgrad (Bulgaria): Municipalities & Places - Population Statistics, Graphics and Map. Retrieved June 12, 2018 .
  2. IMRO + 100 = FYROM? The politics of Macedonian historiography. In: Stefan Troebst: The Macedonian Century: From the Beginnings of the National Revolutionary Movement to the Ohrid Agreement 1893-2001 . Selected essays. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58050-1 , p. 413.
  3. Annual Report 2007 ( Memento of the original from July 18, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. from Amnesty International @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Online Encyclopedia of the European East (EOO), keyword: Macedonians ( Memento of the original from February 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Annual Report 2002 (reporting period January 1 to December 31, 2001) BULGARIA by Amnesty International
  6. ( Memento of the original from July 18, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Law on Political Parties (Bulgarian)
  8. ^ Constitution of Bulgaria (German)


  • Victor Roudometof: Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian Question Praeger Publishers, 2002, ISBN 0-275-97648-3 .
  • Keith Brown: The Past in Question: Modern Macedonia and the Uncertainties of Nation Princeton University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-691-09995-2 .
  • Ulf Brunnbauer : (Re) Writing History. Historiography in Southeast Europe after Socialism. (Studies on South East Europe, Volume 4) Lit Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-8258-7365-X .
  • Jane K. Cowan: Macedonia: The Politics of Identity and Difference (Anthropology, Culture and Society Series) Pluto Press, 2000, ISBN 0-7453-1589-5 .
  • RJ Crampton: A Concise History of Bulgaria 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-521-61637-9 .
  • Karen Dawisha: Politics, Power and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe (Democratization and Authoritarianism in Post-Communist Societies) Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-521-59733-1 .
  • Misha Glenny : The Balkans: Nationalism, War & the Great Powers, 1804–1999 Penguin, 2001, ISBN 0-14-023377-6 .
  • Celia Hawkesworth, Muriel Heppell, Harry Norris (Eds.): Religious Quest and National Identity in the Balkans (Studies in Russian & Eastern European History) Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, ISBN 0-333-77810-3 .
  • Elisabeth Kontogiorgi: Population Exchange in Greek Macedonia: The Forced Settlement of Refugees 1922–1930 Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-19-927896-2 .
  • James Pettifer: The New Macedonian Question Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, ISBN 0-333-92066-X .
  • Hugh Poulton: Who Are the Macedonians? 2nd Edition. Indiana University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-253-21359-2 .
  • A. Rossos: Macedonia and the Macedonians: A History (Studies of Nationalities) Review Hoover Inst Press, 2008
  • John Shea: Macedonia and Greece: The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation McFarland, 1997.
  • Wolf Oschlies: Macedonia 2001-2004: War Diary from a Peaceful Country. Xenomoi Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-936532-40-0 .
  • Stefan Troebst: The Macedonian Century. Oldenbourg, 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58050-1 .
  • Michael W. Weithmann: Balkan Chronicle: 2000 years between Orient and Occident 3rd edition. Pustet, Regensburg 2000, ISBN 3-7917-1447-3 .

Web links

Commons : Blagoevgrad Oblast  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files