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                 VMRO -Youth Organization


 
Historical Background

Structure

Initiatives

Activities and Achievements

Guidelines for the Future

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
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VMRO’s Youth Organization  is an immediate successor of  the Macedonian Youth Secret Revolutionary Organization (MYSRO), which was connected with Ivan Maihailov’s IMRO and struggled against the Serbian regime in Vardar Macedonia throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and the Macedonian Youth Union (MYU) in Bulgaria. VMRO-YO commenced, though unofficially, its activities in the period 1987-1988 when a group of young people, sharing an interest in the so called ‘Macedonian Question’ ( a part of the Bulgarian National Question), decided to form a youth section in the framework of the Macedonian Cultural and Educational  Societies in Bulgaria. The history of Macedonia and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO, VMRO in Bulgarian) in the period after 1903 was under prohibition and sentenced to oblivion by the totalitarian regime and , therefore,  having an interest in the above matters was per se a  kind of opposition to the communist dogma.

The young enthusiasts were encouraged  by some of the Macedonian movement’s veterans. In the end of 1989, when the regime was toppled by the public opinion, VMRO’s Youth Organization was the first really active non-communist juvenile structure. Its members took part in the process of democratization in Bulgaria and  were among the ones who initiated  the 1990 restoration of the Union of Macedonian Cultural and Educational Societies, IMRO’s legal wing which had been dissolved by the totalitarian regime due to Belgrade’s pressure. A network of local structures was established in a short period of time. On its first convention held in December, 1990, the UMCES proclaimed itself a  successor  of the historical IMRO and adopted the name VMRO-UMS (Union of Macedonian Societies). In the framework of the Union, the Youth Organization was granted a special status which enabled it to built  branches countrywide. The youngsters participated in organizing and conducting the 1990 Second Great Macedonian Convention in Blagoevgrad which was visited by activists and adherents of the Macedonian Movement from Bulgaria, Vardar and Aegean Macedonia,  as well as by members of the Macedonian Patriotic Organizations (MPO) from the USA, Canada, and Brazil. Following an initiative of the VMRO’s youth, the monument to  Todor Alexandrov, the legendary leader of the Organization in the 1911-1924 period, was restored in the town of Kjustendil.  The grave of Alexandrov near the village of Sugarevo in Pirin mountain, the place he perished on August 31, 1924, was restored as well. On the same date, a VMRO  youth structures’ convention is held annually. VMRO-YO was among the first who establish connections with related organizations from the Republic of Macedonia such as VMRO-DPMNE, VMRO-Fatherland Party, VMRO-Ohrid. It is YO members who met the first students coming to Bulgaria from the Republic of Macedonia, helped them to integrate successfully in the Bulgarian society, and defended them from the attacks of the Serbocommunist propaganda. In 1990, VMRO-YO declared unambiguously its support of the Republic of Macedonia’s independence and its prospective secession from the Yugoslav federation. At the 1991 international forum on human rights held in Denmark under the auspices of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe /CSCE/, VMRO-YO members presented a wide range of documents related to the plight of the Slavic-Bulgarian minority in Greece /Aegean Macedonia/ and insisted that the Greek authorities observe and respect the latter’s civil rights. In 1993, VMRO-YO organized demonstrations in protest to  Mr.William Montgomery’s  presentation of credentials, which came as a result of his statement, made in the capacity as a newly appointed US ambassador to Bulgaria, he would work for introduction of changes to the Bulgarian Constitution and the rights of the fictional "Macedonian minority" in Bulgaria,originally tailored by Belgrade’s propaganda.
 

STRUCTURE
 

VMRO’s Youth Organization is composed by members who elect, on a general assembly, an executive body of five people with a two-year mandate. The members of the YO are guided by a Statute and Regulations and they are divided into different departments depending on their age, professional orientation, interests, and capabilities. At present, there are four departments -Informational and Political, Technical, University, and High School Student.

The Informational and Political Department is responsible for the VMRO-YO’s domestic and  international activities, the contacts with other youth organizations in Bulgaria and abroad. various conferences and seminars are organized which are aimed at making the ideas of VMRO and the specific youth issues popular. The department maintains relations with journalists and the media to keep them updated on YO’s initiatives. It manages The NIE (We) Magazine,  VMRO-YO’s special edition. The goal is providing of all nationally responsible young Bulgarians with their own tribune that enables  them to communicate their ideas and criticisms to their peers and, more importantly, the people in power.

The Technical Department deals with the material and financial back up of YO’s initiatives, the maintenance of  its office equipment and computer network. The department is charged with the technical support of VMRO-YO’s public activities.

The High School Student Department  comprises  students coming from the most prestigious secondary education establishments in the country such as the English, the French, the German high schools, the National Classical Lyceum and the National Lyceum of Natural Sciences. They are prospective university graduates and, therefore, have considerable potential to help the Organization as  professionals and, generally, young people not affected by the communist regime. They are active within their respective schools, thus  making their schoolmates familiar with the everlasting values of the Bulgarian national movement and the spirit of the Bulgarian democratic traditions. The High School Student Department has its own printed edition - The Hleb and Sol (Bread and Salt) which is well accepted by the teenage public due to the variety of specific high school problems it addresses in an understandable and entertaining manner. Those range from rock music to educational issues.

The University Student Department bears the name Student Society  Shar and is a successor of both the Student Corporation Shar that existed in the period before 1938, and the Student Society Vardar whose founding member was Ivan Mihailov  as a student in the Sofia University’s Faculty of Law. VMRO-Student Society  Shar is active on the premises of the Sofia University and the rest of the Bulgarian higher education establishments. Regular meetings are held, lectures  presented, films projected; various conference with distinguished politicians and public figures take place. In 1993, Shar issued a commemorative  edition under the name Ohrid celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Ilinden-Probrazhenie Uprising. All those activities aim at attracting new sympathizers, and fostering the national feeling together with pride of the heroic Bulgarian history in  the student youth. In the beginning of every academic year, a traditional reception of the students coming from the Republic of Macedonia takes place so that they are rendered real help towards their quicker integration in the Bulgarian  social life. A part of Shar has its get-togethers on the territory of the Student town where it deals with the social and daily living problems of the Bulgarian students. VMRO - Student Society Shar is represented in the Student Senate of the Sofia University "St.Kliment Ohridski" occupying more than  50% of the seats. There it takes care of the overall problems the students experience.  Together with other student bodies, VMRO - Student Society Shar is a founding member of the National Student Organization (NSO) where Shar members are included in the executive body.

 
INITIATIVES
 

VMRO-YO maintains a Youth authentic folk dance group  which undertakes to preserve the centuries-old musical tradition of the Macedonian Bulgarians.  By its performances, the group reflects the way of living and the spirit of our people. In 1997, VMRO-YO released a collection containing  the best examples of the Bulgarian folklore in Macedonia under the name Pesni ot Makedonija (Songs from Macedonia) that had taken years to prepare.

VMRO-YO has a durable presence in the Bulgarian youth’s  social and political life; it carries on various activities fueled by its ideas and initiatives. Back in 1995,VMRO-YO established the National Youth Information Center (NYIC) which is intended to coordinate the activity of all youth organizations in Bulgaria. In 1996, we realized a meeting with representatives of CENYC (the association of the European youth councils that operates within the framework of the Council of Europe).  It was on our request that a special panel was created initiating the establishment of  a National Youth Council (NYC) in the Republic of Bulgaria.  In the process of  preliminary talks, we participated in drafting the NYC’s statute and structure. When the NYC was established on December 18th, 1997, in the town of Bansko (Pirin Macedonia). VMRO-YO entered the Upper House and the Collective Presidency of the NYC, and subsequently put a great deal of efforts in building up the local NYC branches, the Regional Youth Councils (RYC).

Our members designed VMRO’s Internet site which can be visited at www.vmro.org . Everybody can contact us by emailing to vmro@vmro.org or vmro@iname.com.
 

ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
 

Our members  upheld the hunger strike of the Bulgarian from the town of Ohrid Mr.Vladimir Pankov , the Chairman of VMRO-Ohrid whose passport was taken away by the serbocommunist authorities in the Republic of Macedonia that had subjected him to repressions violating elementary human rights. Thanks to the decidedness and endurance of our activists, the passport was given back to Mr.Pankov who is a Bulgarian citizen, and he could visit the Republic of Bulgaria.

Most importantly, the members of VMRO-YO took a major part  in the national anticommunist protest action in the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997 when Bulgaria went through some of her harshest days since her 1878 Liberation.  The incompetent, corrupt, criminal, and antidemocratic communist government had led the national economy to a financial collapse and  turned the daily life of the average Bulgarian into an endless humiliation. The people of Bulgaria rose in a revolt against the neocommunist Socialist Party and in defense of  democracy. VMRO-YO could not stand aside indifferent in the days when our Fatherland was going through severe trials. The red-and-black flags together with the national tricolors were flown in the forefront of the protesting citizenry. The VMRO structures around the country blocked highways, railroads, headquarters of institutions. The members of the Student Society Shar, which is a part of VMRO-YO, blocked all the universities in Bulgaria and organized the biggest student strike in the nation’s history.  Our activists were amongst the leaders of the student protest action which played a decisive role in the anti-national communist government’s fall from power on February 4th, 1997.

This development along with the democratic forces’ election victory  (April 18th, 1997) cleared Bulgaria’s path to prosperity, adoption of European democratic values, and integration in the European and Euroatlantic economic and security structures. A fairly good example to that effect is  the election of the Student Senate at the Sofia University and the establishment of a National Youth Council which were made possible by that new situation in the country. In the pre-elections political campaign (February-April , 1997), VMRO entered the United Democratic Forces coalition and , subsequently, sent two representatives to the 38th National Assembly of Bulgaria. VMRO’s Chairman Mr.Krasimir Karakachanov  was elected in Sofia after  gathering on the intra-coalition preliminaries 70% of the vote in the Ilinden constituency (the part of Sofia historically inhabited by Macedonian refugees), surpassing by far his competitors from the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF). To a considerable extent, this overwhelming victory was made possible by the moral and technical support VMRO-YO provided during the election campaign.

Our members  upheld the hunger strike of the Bulgarian from the town of Ohrid Mr.Vladimir Pankov , the Chairman of VMRO-Ohrid , whose passport had been taken away by the Serbocommunist authorities in the Republic of Macedonia. The latter had subjected Mr.Pankov to repression violating elementary human rights. Thanks to the decidedness and endurance of our activists, the passport was given back to Mr.Pankov who is a Bulgarian citizen, and he was again in a position to visit the Republic of Bulgaria.
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GUIDELINES FOR THE FUTURE
 

On the 1998 annual convention of VMRO-YO, the growing popularity of VMRO and its socio-political, economic,  cultural and educational achievements were rendered an account of. A program containing guidelines for the future activities of VMRO-YO was adopted.

VMRO-Youth Organization declared once again its preparedness to promote and stand for the democratization processes in the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, and its aspiration to work together with other democratic organizations.

Today, we, the Bulgarians of Macedonia go on following the precept of our forefathers in their struggle and striving after Freedom as the highest human value. The idea of Free Macedonia and United Bulgaria lives in our hearts. We hope we are going to accomplish it in the spirit of the democratic values common to all humankind. VMRO-YO is an all-Bulgarian national organization that has become a living link between the Bulgarian National Revival and modern Bulgaria.

The best and most truthful reflection of both the legendary IMRO’s and its present followers’ activities and ideas is found in the following statement made once by the eminent Bulgarian historian Petar Mutafchiev.
 

"For almost two decades, the Macedonian liberation movement had never ceased  to attract and recruit all those who cannot reconcile with the grayish  routine of the life in the free parts of the Bulgarian homeland. These people hardly cared about rehabilitating a fading past; they were animated only by the ideals of the future and the decision for the self-sacrifice they had devoted themselves to. The daily heroism of the those  "out there beyond" was what educated the generations "here" and drove the chosen ones to the enslaved land."
 
 

VMRO means Idealism and Devotion!

May God Be with Us!