On August 1st 2017, with official ceremonies and solemn declarations, the governments of Bulgaria and Macedonia signed a Friendship, Neighborhood and Cooperation Agreement between the two countries. The Bulgarian public welcomes this treaty as the opening of a new page in the relations between the two states. One of its most important clauses for bilateral relations states that Bulgaria will share its experience and support and assist Macedonia’s accession to the European Union and NATO. However, the treaty has yet to be ratified by the two parliaments and has not entered into force. Setting these events in the current political context is important for understanding the political aspects of the problem with the canonical recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC) in its entirety. The autonomy of the
Who does the Bulgarian Orthodox Church serve – Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria or foreign geopolitical interests? This issue has once again come to the fore after the actions by the Holy Synod of the BOC in recent months. Through its leadership, the BOC has taken an unacceptable stance in a regional political conflict. On June 13th this year, in a letter by Patriarch Neophyte to the President of Ukraine Poroshenko, it is requested of the Ukrainian Parliament not to vote on tabled draft bills on the introduction of general state requirements to the religious denominations in the country (Letter to His Excellency Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, June 13th, 2017). The requirements to be voted on are intended to ensure that religion cannot be used for political purposes
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Recently in Sofia a Trump Society was founded and its first meeting saw a number of politicians, businessmen, analysts and journalists known for their affection for Putin, the Russian interpretation of Orthodoxy and the former Bulgarian Communist Party with all its recurrent nationalist incarnations. In the autumn of 2015 many of these individuals participated actively in the media campaign against the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Sofia. According to information from the press, the campaign started after the diplomatic intrigue cooked by General Reshetnikov, Director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), but the Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, State Agency of National Security (SANS), socialist MPs and pro-Russian journalists were its perpetrators and supporters in Sofia. The scandal provided an alibi for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
During the Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete in June 2016, the Serbian Patriarch Irinej and the Romanian Patriarch Daniel responded negatively to only one of the proposals made by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, namely to condemn nationalism in the Church which Bartholomew obviously saw as a Russian strategy to undermine Orthodoxy. The idea of condemnation of nationalism proved a serious problem for several Balkan churches unable to see further than the end of their nose. The misuse of nationalist ideas by the Balkan churches is a fact well known to analysts in Moscow and since the 19thc. it has been used cleverly to provoke internal conflicts in the Balkans only to weaken the region and make it an easy prey to Russian imperialist colonial interests. Greece’s Disappointment Despite
In the last year, the behavior of the Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) became increasingly radical, while its members are evermore eager to assume the posture of “religious patriots” defending ecclesiastical independence (autocephaly) and the “purity” of Orthodoxy. It turns out that in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church religious radicalism is tolerated at the highest level, with three bishops (Nicolas, Gabriel and Ioanikiy) openly supporting orthodox fundamentalists. All Orthodox churches which recognize democracy, human rights and Western civilization have also unequivocally been condemned in recent Synod decisions issued in connection with the Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete (June 2016), voted under pressure from the two most active members of the Synod. In this media environment, many Bulgarian decision-makers did not consider enough the importance of hybrid war fought by the
On November 23, 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution against anti-EU propaganda propagated by Russia and terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda. The document states that Russia is using religious communities and pretending to be a defender of Christian values for its own subversive goals. The declaration provoked outrage in Moscow and subsequently pro-Russian media spread the news that “the EU is attacking Orthodoxy”. For years, experts were aware that the Kremlin was using the Russian Orthodox Church and its satellite churches for propaganda and intelligence purposes. The so-called. “Orthodox fundamentalism” was also called upon, as professed by small extreme groups, preaching aggressive religious exclusivism towards other Christian communities and denying basic principles of a democratic society and the rule of law. Things came to light as,