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Bulgaria: Disputed Monument of Serbian Ruler 'Decorated' in Bulgaria's Sofia - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency

Bulgaria: Disputed Monument of Serbian Ruler 'Decorated' in Bulgaria's Sofia - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency

Disputed Monument of Serbian Ruler 'Decorated' in Bulgaria's Sofia

Diplomacy | November 25, 2011, Friday| 401 views
Bulgaria: Disputed Monument of Serbian Ruler 'Decorated' in Bulgaria's Sofia
The monument of Serbian ruler Mihailo Obrenovic in Sofia's Southern Park has been painted by unknown persons in the colors of the Bulgarian national flag. Photo by artwarbg

Тhe controversial monument of Serbian Knyaz (Prince) Mihailo Obrenovic in the Bulgarian capital Sofia has been "decorated" by unknown persons with the colors of the Bulgarian national flag.

The monument of one of the most cherished rulers of modern Serbia Mihailo Obrenovic (1823-1868; ruled 1839-1842 and 1860-1868) is located in the Southern Park in Bulgaria's capital Sofia.

It was erected a couple of years ago as a gesture of reciprocity on part of the Sofia Municipality after Belgrade agreed to erect statues of 19th century Bulgarian revolutionary heroes Vasil Levski (1837-1873) and Georgi Rakovski (1821-1867).

It still unclear who has painted over the monument of the Serbian ruler but the "decoration" appears to be an act of protest against the erection of the monument. The actions of the Bulgarian authorities to investigate the case have not been made announced yet.

The monument of Serbian Knyaz Mihailo Obrenovic has been erected regardless of the massive opposition of Bulgarian academia who pointed out that Obrenovic's foreign policy designed to turn Serbia into a "Piedmont of the Balkans" was directed against the Bulgarians by trying to take hold of Bulgarian populated lands in the so called Western Outlands and especially in Macedonia even before Bulgaria's National Liberation from the Ottoman Turkish Empire in 1878.

A 2007 article published in the Bulgarian daily Sega by renowned Bulgarian historian Ivan Ilchev, who has just been reelected as President of Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", provides interesting insights into the question about the monument of Serbian Knyaz Mihailo Obrenovic in Sofia even before the monument itself was erected.

In his article entitled "Why Should We Perpetuate the Architect of Greater Serbia Policies?", Ilchev argued that Obrenovic is a very unsuitable choice for a Serbian political figure of whom Sofia could build a monument because of his policies that hurt the interests of Bulgaria.

The historian stresses that Knyaz Obrenovic is a Serbian head of state, while Bulgaria's Vasil Levski and Georgi Rakovski have been involved in Serbia's wars against the Ottoman Empire, i.e. that the reciprocity of the monuments in Sofia and Belgrade is flawed.

Ilchev points out that even though it was under the rule of Mihailo Obrenovic that Serbia formed two Bulgarian legions as part of its army headed by Georgi Rakovski in 1862 and 1867, Obrenovic would use the legions purely in Serbia's interest, and would meanwhile negotiate with Greece the partition of Bulgarian-populated regions in Macedonia.

Ilchev argued that other Serbian historical figures would be a lot more suitable to have their monuments in Sofia because they would help unite rather than divide Bulgaria and Serbia. These include Serbian reformer and revolutionary Vuk Karadzic (1787 – 1864) who published Bulgarian folklore songs from Macedonia without hiding their Bulgarian origin, or Serbian educator and author Dositej Obradovic (1742-1811), or Bulgarian revolutionary leader Haydut Velko Petrov (1780-1813) who was active in Serbia's liberation from Ottoman Turkey.

In his 2007 article, Ilchev even quotes an article by Bulgarian 19th century revolutionary hero Georgi Rakovski about Mihailo Obradovic's attitudes and policies towards the Bulgarians. Here is the quote:

"We have thought many times of describing the political relations of the Serbian state with Bulgaria in present times (1860s – editor's note). But reasons of utmost importance have led us to abstain from this intention until now. The first of these reasons has been that the description of the very truth and the dishonest approach of the politicians of that [Serbian] state towards the Bulgarians would have inevitably caused a great dissatisfaction and cold with the latter in their capacity of being wrong and subject to the expansionist appetites of the former...

The [Serbian] intelligentsia has led the inexperienced government [of Serbia] to turn its attention regarding the expansion of its borders not towards the right and natural cause towards Bosnia and Herzegovina where the truly Serbian element lives but towards Vidin and Sofia, the heart of Bulgaria!

The recently acquired several regions between the rivers of Bulgarian Morava and Timok some of which still speak pure Bulgarian language, and some – Bulgarian mixed with Serbian, are clearly proving our point, and this is direct evidence of the dishonest course of action of the Serbian politicians towards us. Our Serbian brothers view and think of Vidin as an inevitable possession of theirs in the future..."

From "The Serbian policy towards the Bulgarians or the Desired Hidden Pan-Serbianism in Turkish Europe", written by Georgi Rakovski in 1863-1864 during the rule of Serbian Knyaz Mihailo Obrenovic

Tags: Greater Serbia, Georgi Rakovski, Vasil Levski, Belgrade, sofia, Southern Park, Mihailo Obrenovic, monument, Serbia, Ivan Ilchev, Dositej Obradovic, Haydut Velko Petrov, Vuk Karadzic, macedonia, Western Outlands, Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkey, Ottoman Turkish Empire, Vidin, First Bulgarian Legion, Second Bulgarian Legion
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