In 1915 Bulgaria entered alongside the central empires at war against Russia and Serbia. Serbian Macedonia was occupied by Bulgaria, while the British-British settled in Thessaloniki and from there, with the Italians and the Serbs, in 1916, advanced to beyond Monastir. After the First World War with the defeat of Bulgaria, all the part assigned to it was ceded to Greece which, having also had Thrace, surrounded the whole Aegean, removing Bulgaria from the sea.
In tracing the new frontiers of all states at the end of the war, the solution of the national question of Macedonia was not easy because of its fragmentation. So the protection of all minorities was submitted directly to the League of Nations.
According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Macedonia, the rivalry between the leaders of the various groups greatly influenced the Macedonian Independence Movement, which was already quite disorganized. Meanwhile, Bulgaria had never completely renounced to unify Macedonia within its borders; he was just waiting for the right moment to implement it. And the Macedonians of Yugoslav and Greek ethnicity never diminished their feeling of impatience with their respective governments.
So, at the outbreak of the Second World War, both Athens and Belgrade found themselves in difficulty because the Macedonian soldiers, hostile to those governments, were not motivated to defend those territories that quickly fell into the hands of Axis troops. Those neglectful soldiers hoped so much in the granting of autonomy by the Italians, Germans and Bulgarians. And the latter, at the end of the campaign of Greece and Yugoslavia, were able to annex almost the whole country. Only a small part of Yugoslav Macedonia passed to Albania. But even in this part assigned to Albania, rebellions occurred as Italy, due to a macroscopic mistake, had brought together the Orthodox Macedonians with the Muslim Albanians. A climate of great tension was created, and the “pope” did everything to break the situation, addressing the Bulgarian government. And this took the magnificent opportunity by immediately granting those Greek Macedonians Bulgarian nationality.
From 1941 to 1944, as was later documented, Bulgaria tried by every means to assimilate the characteristics of the Bulgarian people to the Macedonians. There were many killings, deportations and population movements. And this gave many concerns to the Axis, since the partisan movement that fought more bitterly against the Germans was born precisely in Macedonia.
In 1943, in fact, the Slavic-Macedonian National Liberation Front, of communist roots, was founded. It fought alongside the partisans of Tito, the Bulgarian communists and the Greek National Liberation Front. Titus, then, on December 4, 1944, after proclaiming the Republic in Belgrade, created autonomous Macedonia and later, in 1945, as the People’s Republic of Macedonia became part of the Yugoslav Federal State. Macedonia maintained its official language and had equal rights to Serbs, Croats and Slovenians.
Then the Bulgarian government of the Patriotic Front on 31 December 1946 called a census in its territory and all Macedonians living in Bulgarian Macedonia were able to fully resume their nationality and detach themselves from Bulgaria, to form a single state with the rest of the country. But this unification posed other problems as the area included in Greek Macedonia, by virtue of the peace agreements, returned to Greece. And this was the main reason why civil war broke out in Greece. The partisan troops of Markos, in Greek Macedonia, were the most active at this juncture.
The possibility of eventually reaching the complete unification of Macedonia was only seen in the solution of the Greek crisis, which occurred during 1946.
Many agricultural villages sprang up in the compacted republic. The fertility of the land and the industriousness of the inhabitants constituted a real wealth for the country which, together with a prestigious agriculture, also developed a considerable livestock breeding. Particularly noteworthy were the cultivations of cotton, tobacco, melons and watermelons which, in some years, even reached almost one million quintals.
And with the Federation of Yugoslav Republics it came up to 1989 when, in fact, that Federation entered into crisis and independence movements also awakened in Macedonia.
In May 1989 the Assembly, as the Macedonian Parliament was called, decreed to be called “national state”. The elections of November / December 1990 assigned the majority to the Democratic Party for National Unity, followed by the Macedonian Communist League which was later called the “Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia”. All the parties represented in parliament declared themselves in favor of independence which, in fact, was officially proclaimed on September 5, 1991.
In June of the same year, the status of “socialist” was eliminated from the name of the Republic and in September 95% of the referendums voted for complete sovereignty. On November 17, a new Constitution came into force. But not all problems were solved. In Macedonia there were Albanian and Turkish minorities who in turn claimed territorial and political autonomy. And this was done in the 1992 referendum which, however, was declared void by the Macedonian government.
Macedonia, with an Orthodox majority, also had to face the religious problem with those Islamic minorities. Another reason for dispute was brought by Greece, against the denomination of “Macedonia” of this state, since it always belonged historically to Greece itself.
All these contrasts delayed the recognition of the young republic in other states. But then this happened in early 1992 from Bulgaria and Turkey. In April 1993 it was recognized by the United Nations, as well as by Germany, Belgium and Denmark.
So while with Bulgaria in a certain sense relations had stabilized on a normal line, those with Greece, however, when Papandreu returned to power in 1993, worsened. In February 1994 Greece closed its Consulate in Skopje, isolated Macedonia with heavy commercial interdictions, including the prohibition to use the port of Thessaloniki.
Also in that February there were large splits between the moderate government currents and those composed of Slavic-Macedonian and Albanian elements who, numerous in the western part of the country, claimed full autonomy.
In June 1994 a census was carried out which decreed the Albanian presence in the measure of 22% of the population against 66.6% of Macedonian ethnicity.
Presidential and legislative elections were held on October 16, 1994. While amidst many protests for fraud, they reconfirmed President K. Gligorov, and awarded victory to the governmental coalition, the Alliance for Macedonia.
This government, with the help of the United States, managed to settle almost all the controversies with Greece so that a normal situation was restored both in relation to the borders and towards the withdrawal of the economic embargo. Inside, however, difficulties persisted towards the Albanians who, after inaugurating an Albanian-speaking university in Tetovo, saw it close with a government decree as it was considered completely illegal. Serious unrest broke out and Gligorov himself was wounded in an attack in Skopje, for which St. Andov was appointed provisional president.
In 1996 many anomalies were smoothed out between Macedonia and the Yugoslav Federation and when in June, with the death of Papandreu, the Greek government C. Simitis took over and wanted to overcome the past and start all over again, in an atmosphere of relaxation and peace.
After several months of convalescence, Gligorov returned to the government and immediately found himself having to manage, in the first months of 1997, the serious Albanian crisis that had had repercussions on Macedonia as well. In fact, in the westernmost part of the country, on the borders with Kosovo and Albania, the tension was very high. Nonetheless, an agreement was reached also by virtue of the mediation of the communist V. Tupurkovski, a prominent figure of “Democratic Alternative”, made up of Serbian, Roma and Albanian members.
In 1998, although not all the planned programs had been carried out, parliamentary elections took place which brought to the government a coalition between B. Crvenkovski, of the Democratic Party for Macedonian Unity, and Tupurkovski, of Democratic Alternative.
This new government, whose attentions were to be directed more towards the economic problems of the country, instead was immediately invested by the Kosovo conflict, in which Albanian and Serbian ethnic Kosovars unleashed assaults armed with unprecedented ferocity, so as to make intervention indispensable NATO, with related air strikes on Yugoslavia, in March-June 1999.
In fact, Macedonia was involved in that, being neighboring, it was invaded by over 250,000 refugees, with serious discomfort of the national ethnic balance.
The presidential elections were held between October and November 1999, won by B. Trajkovski, a political element close to the West, supported by Albanian minorities.