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The Resurfacing of the “Titanic” in the Balkan Bermuda Triangle: Political Conflicts over History between Sofia, Skopje and Athens before and after 1989

From the book Instrumentalizing the Past

  • Stefan Troebst


The article argues that the epochal year of 1989 caused an unexpected shift in the Cold War conflict of the Balkan triangle of Bulgaria-Greece-Yugoslavia/ Macedonia. With the emergence of the new Republic of Macedonia in 1991, the former Bulgarian-Yugoslav controversy over Macedonia, its history, language, ethnic composition etc. abated, whereas a new and even more bitter conflict over the same issues (plus name and national symbols) sprang up between Greece and what is now internationally called FYROM, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.” While the signing of a Bulgarian-Macedonian treaty on friendship, good neighbourhood and cooperation in 2017 was no longer a surprise at that time, the signing of a “Final Agreement for the Settlement of Differences” between Athens and Skopje in 2018 definitely was. Since then, the southernmost post-Yugoslav republic has figured as the “Republic of North Macedonia.” And, unusually for bilateral treaties, both documents contain detailed provisions outlining how the divergent interpretations of history - Balkan, national, regional - should be harmonised

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