Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) North Macedonia’s government has ordered heightened security on February 4, when the country celebrates 151 years since the birth of its biggest hero, the Ottoman-era revolutionary Goce Delcev.
The decision was taken in the lead-up to the celebration amid mounting tensions between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, who remain locked in a bitter dispute over history and identity. Delcev’s disputed identity is one of the pivotal points in this feud.
The celebrations will take place at Delcev’s final resting place in a church in Skopje. Various delegations, including by Bulgarians who see Delcev as their own exclusive hero, are expected to visit the site that day to pay their respects.
The order to step up security comes after Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki, in a provocative statement, said this week that “Macedonia was and will be Bulgarian”, and called on Bulgarians to attend the celebration in Skopje en masse.
This provoked Macedonians on social media to call for Macedonians to gather and not allow that to happen and deter deniers of Macedonian identity from attending the celebrations.
In light of the events in the country, there are pieces of information that not all Macedonian media are allowed by the government in Skopje to be present at the event and report from the ceremony on hero’s Memorial Day.
Journalist Igor Chaveski for the newspaper informs that the two media in the country magazine “Republika” and “Pressing TV” were not granted accreditation by the state authorities without any explanation for the reasons.
” Following the working procedures on similar events, the journalist in the two media via email send a request to the government for permission for our news teams to be present at the memorial place where Goce Delcev rests in Skopje. But unfortunately, we were denied permission to do our journalistic work for no specific reason why. In short, the Government’s spokespersons Muhammed Hoxha and Dusko Arsovski did not answer our calls to us and we only got an email informing us in “Republika” and “Pressing TV” that we don’t have permission to be present at the honored place in the capital. After this response, the media that I work for asking for help from two journalist associations in North Macedonia called MAN and ZNM. Additionally, the same day we also informed the European Commission of this incident ” said Caveski to our newspaper.
He noted that he personally is one of those journalists that got rejected by the Government in Skopje.
Cavevski underlines that the Government of North Macedonia reacted in this non-democratic way because it is bothered by the views that the two media spread regarding the dispute with Bulgaria, which often contradicts the government’s policies.