Why Wasn't Bulgaria Part of Yugoslavia? Historical and Cultural Examination

You may know that Yugoslavia literally means South Slavia, Land of the South Slavs. Since Bulgaria is both a South-Slavic and a former communist republic, it may seem odd that Bulgaria was never part of Yugoslavia. Why was that? Let’s explore a small part of the historical events that made Bulgaria and Yugoslavia distinct.

The nature of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria

While Yugoslavia is certainly supposed to mean “South Slav country” it was also heavily centered around the Western Balkans. Slavs may seem interchangeable to some, but Bulgarians, Serbs, and Croats are distinct groups with their own history and approach to doing things. These differences would either have to be set aside or on South Slav country will have to subjugate the other. This didn’t really happen.

World War II, the Bled agreement and the socialist period

The immense change the world had to endure during the World War II can’t be overstated. Yugoslavia went from a Serb-dominated monarchy to a socialist federation ran by the famous dictator Josip Broz Tito. Tito’s position in Yugoslavia was strong, as the country liberated itself from Axis control without the help of the Soviet troops.

Bulgaria has a different story. The country was a voluntary part of the Axis alliance and took part in the fighting against Yugoslavia. For the most part, this was done in order to gain the territory of Macedonia and incorporate the majority-Bulgarian population back into Bulgaria’s real borders. This failed, as the Axis lost the war. While Bulgaria hadn’t taken up arms against the USSR, it was still occupied by the Red Army in 1944.

Stalin installed a puppet government in Sofia completely loyal to Moscow. The initial Soviet plan was to unite Bulgaria and Yugoslavia into one federation. After the end of WW2, both countries became socialist. The two governments signed the Bled agreement, which stated that Bulgaria should be incorporated.

Since Tito had taken power more independently, he wasn’t bound by the same rules as the Bulgarian Communist regime. Joseph Stalin desired total orthodoxy from Yugoslavia. This didn’t work out, which led to the Tito-Stalin split.

With that split, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia also had to cool-off relations even further. The Bled agreement was undone. A policy of distancing and erasing the Bulgarian identity of the people of Macedonia was launched. The pro-Bulgarian sentiment was heavily repressed in order to keep that territory into Yugoslavia. If Macedonia seems like a perplexing nation to some, most of that can be traced to the policies of Communist Yugoslavia. Bulgarians were presented as non-Slavic Turkic peoples like the creators of the country. The supposed fascist regime of Bulgaria during WW2 was greatly demonized.

So, in the end, the cultural and political differences on the Balkans and the split between Tito and Stalin made it impossible for Bulgaria to join Yugoslavia... not that Bulgarians were exactly dying to do it.



Alex Dimchev

Alex Dimchev is a writer, editor, and weapons master for EUscoop.com

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