French ambassador queries Bulgarian nationalist party’s commemoration of assassin

France’s ambassador in Sofia, Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes, has written to the leader of Bulgarian ultra-nationalist party VMRO querying the party’s placement of a newspaper notice commemorating the death of the assassin of King Alexander of Yugoslavia.

The October 9 1934 assassination of Alexander of Yugoslavia in Marseille also caused the death of the French foreign minister of the time, Louis Barthou, as well as the deaths and injuries of others.

On October 9 2014, VMRO – a partner in the Patriotic Front coalition that four days earlier won 19 seats in Bulgaria’s National Assembly, including for its leader Krassimir Karakachanov – placed a notice marking the death of Vlado Chernozemski, Alexander’s assassin.

In his letter to Karakachanov, a copy of which was posted on the French embassy website in French and Bulgarian, the French ambassador said that he had seen the advert “with surprise” commemorating what it described as the “heroic” death of a Bulgarian terrorist 80 years ago.

Noting that the attack also had led to the death of the French foreign minister and others, whose only fault was that they had gone to attend the passage of the royal motorcade through the streets of their city, the French ambassador said that the VMRO’s notice had not mentioned anything about the consequences in France from the terrorist assassination by the VMRO of the time.

“I am curious to know what today’s position of your party is on this issue,” the French ambassador said.

“For my part, almost a century after what took place, I do not want to either condemn or glorify the past.

“I think that we can do something better: already united and with solidarity within a political community, the European Union, we must look honestly and from a distance at the difficult moments in our shared history.”

The French ambassador added, “If each of us conducts dialogue solely with his own phantoms, we shall be doomed to experience again the same dead ends and the same tragedies”.

Karakachanov told local media that the French ambassador should read the police reports of the attack in Marseille and he would see that Barthou died because of “indiscriminate shooting by local police” and died from blood loss because he had haemophilia.

All those wounded and killed in Marseille, apart from the Yugoslavian king, died because of the shooting by the French police, Karakachanov said.

He recommended that the ambassador read French author Henri Pozzi’s book describing Alexander I’s “despotic regime” and oppression of Bulgarians in Macedonia.

“The French ambassador has a lot to learn from the many French authors who describe the atrocities and the regime of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia,” Karakachanov told Offnews.

In a letter to the ambassador, he said that from this vantage point, the commemoration of the death of an assassasin would “seem a little unusual for today’s mores in Europe”.

“But I want to remind you that Marseilles attack is part of the history of the struggle which for decades the Bulgarians conducted in Macedonia after 1913 against the Serbian occupation authorities that had taken all political, cultural and purely human rights.”

“The inspirer and organiser of this policy of genocide against Bulgarians in Macedonia was the then Yugoslav King Alexander, who met a tragic end in Marseille.”

In the lengthy letter, Karakachanov said that the assassination was “in no way directed against the French state and the French”. Marseille had been chosen because the king would have less protection than in Yugoslavian territory.


“We cannot rewrite history, and it is what it was. As in France today the sacrifice of thousands of French heroes of the resistance against the German occupation (1941-1944 years) is celebrated – most of whom were killed in the fighting, and grateful generations erected monuments, so we too grateful generations honour the ultimate sacrifice of a valiant Bulgarian revolutionary who led that fight, but for the freedom of the Bulgarian people.”

It was a “pity” that others including Barthou were killed or injured, he said, repeating blame on the French police, and adding “this in no way, of course, does not diminish the tragedy that befell the innocent victims”.

“Of course, you are very right in your observation that we should not relive the tragedies left behind in history. However, this means that we must know the history and not allow the mistakes that led to whole nations in Europe being placed under foreign rule, claiming their basic human rights and freedoms. That means evaluating today’s realities without forgetting the lessons of history.”

Chernozemski, born Velichko Dimitrov Kerin, was an assassin for the VMRO, killing two Bulgarian politicians, communist Dimo Hadzhidimov and VMRO member Naum Tomalevski. Twice convicted and sentenced to death, he escaped from his first imprisonment and was released from the second. Chernozemski trained a group of Ustaše to assassinate Alexander of Yugoslavia, but undertook the murder himself, dying after being assaulted by police and spectators.

(Photo: French embassy)



The Sofia Globe staff

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