The historical commission will have three more meetings, it is uncertain whether the history textbooks will be changed by September

Textbooks, Photo: Archive

Until the end of the year, three more meetings of the Joint Commission for Historical and Educational Issues between Macedonia and Bulgaria are planned, Draghi Gjorgiev, co-chairman of the commission from the Macedonian side, briefly informed. He says that the meetings are planned for the period from September to December.

With the two meetings held so far in February and March this year 2023, a total of five meetings of historians will be held. It is almost twice as long as what is recommended by the second Bilateral Protocol adopted last June at the second meeting of the joint Macedonian-Bulgarian government commission, the adoption of which was a condition for Sofia to lift the veto for the start of Macedonian EU membership negotiations.

"The joint multidisciplinary expert commission for historical and educational issues will develop and implement a work plan that provides for the holding of 8 to 10 meetings on an annual level", it is agreed in the Protocol.

And last year, despite the intention for more dynamic meetings, there were a total of six meetings.

For what the historians will agree on, it is an obligation to find it in the textbooks within two years, and the same results should be "reflected on the contents of inscriptions on monuments, signs, information materials in museums and other objects of educational and cultural significance." , as well as the relevant information in electronic information media in public ownership".

The historical commission has so far harmonized recommendations for history textbooks for the fifth grade in Bulgaria and for the sixth grade in Macedonia, but for now it is uncertain whether the Government will implement these recommendations from the following school year 2023/2024. "Free Press" sent questions regarding this topic to the Government, to the Ministry of Education, as well as to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we will publish the answers as soon as they arrive. 

The Commission recommended in history textbooks for the sixth grade, there should be a greater representation of issues related to ancient Thrace and the Thracians. A second recommendation is that suggestions of continuity between ancient Macedonia and the modern Macedonian state contain historical anachronism. The third recommendation is that the suggestions of institutional continuity between the mission of the Apostle Paul and the medieval church structures that existed in the territory of today's RS Macedonia are unfounded. It is also recommended that the historical maps of the ancient Macedonian state will be more accurate if they correspond to a specific time period and that when presenting some ancient communities, it is necessary to take into account the leading theses in historiography for their ethno-cultural characteristics (such as the Payonians, the Dardanians, the Mygdonians).

The government has undertaken to prepare and submit a preliminary outline of a lesson for the seventh grade from the educational program on the subject of Samuel's State, in accordance with the recommendation of the Historical Commission. This should be implemented before the second conference in Brussels to complete the opening phase of negotiations with the EU, which means by September.

With The second bilateral protocol the Government has undertaken the obligation to change the content of the geography textbook for the seventh grade by the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, due to unfounded ethnic and territorial claims. The difference from the obligation for the lesson about Tsar Samuel is that this obligation should be fulfilled after the end of the second conference to complete the phase of the opening of the negotiations, and before that it is necessary for Macedonia to include the Bulgarians in the Constitution, so it is not clear is the obligation of the Government to change the content of the geography textbook valid until September?

Yesterday, in a statement to the media, the Minister of Education Jeton Shaqiri did not specify whether the history textbook for the sixth grade will be corrected. He only said that all textbooks approved by the National Commission will be printed, according to the prescribed procedure.

– The minister only gives approval for the printing of those textbooks, regardless of the period in which they were approved. As for technical errors in the textbooks, we will try to find a way with the authors to have as few technical errors as possible. The first of September will find us more prepared because we don't have the challenges of the previous school year. There will definitely be textbooks - said Shaqiri.

For the time being, it is also uncertain how the outline of the lesson on Samuel's kingdom will fit into the history textbook for the seventh grade, because the textbooks are author's work. Until now, the Government explained that these are recommendations that the authors of the books should follow, but it also explained that if what was agreed and harmonized in the Historical Commission is not respected, it will be considered as a violation of the Good Neighbor Agreement.

For King Samuel, the Commission recommended the following text:

"King Samuel is the ruler of a large medieval state, which the majority of modern historical science considers to be the Bulgarian kingdom with its center in the territory of today's Republic of North Macedonia. It covers a significant part of the countries and population of the Balkan Peninsula. King Samuel and his dramatic fate are a symbol of the common history, which is shared by the two modern states of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria. The joint commission proposes to the two governments, in the spirit of the signed bilateral agreement, that the commemoration of King Samuel be a sign of shared values ​​and true good neighborliness and friendship."

At the last meetings of the Joint Historical Commission in February and March, the topic was the issues of history textbooks in the two countries based on the comments exchanged. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs then informed that "the members of the Commission exchanged ideas and arguments on how to improve history textbooks and exchanged several proposals-recommendations that remain the basis for further discussions."

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