The Macedonian Scientific Institute (MSI) was founded on 21 December, 1923. Its founders were 52 activists, born in Macedonia or descendants of Macedonian Bulgarians, who immigrated to Bulgaria after its liberation in 1878. According to the statute, adopted by the founders, the purpose of the Macedonian Scientific Institute is to study the history, ethnography, geography and economic life of Macedonia; to collect materials about the history of the liberation struggle of the Macedonian Bulgarians; to publish a scientific-literary journal and other papers on various aspects of the Macedonian question; to take care of the creation of a Macedonian House of culture - where also to be situated a Macedonian ethnographic museum. The first founders were well-known Bulgarian Scholars from Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridsky" and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Among them were famous historians, linguists, literary scholars, writers, artists, ethnographers, publicists, public figures – popular names in the scientific, cultural, public and political life of the country. Over the year the number of the members reached up to 103 people. All figures were prominent defenders of the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia.
Foreigners were accepted with the status of honorary members. Between them were: Léon Lamouche, Justin Godart, Georges Desbons, Gustav Weigand, Lubor Niederle, Pavel Milyukov, Henry Brailsford, Nikodim Kondakov, Nicolay Derjavin, Afanasii Selishchev, Stanislaw Slonski, Ludvík Kuba, etc. They found and published new sources or reopened arguments for the origin, achievements and fate of the Macedonian Bulgarians. Presidents of MSI from 1923 to 1944 were renowned Bulgarian Scientists – Prof. Ivan Georgov, prof. Lyubomir Miletich and prof. Nikola Stoyanov.
After its creation the MSI started publishing the journal “Macedonian Review"; separate books, the series "Materials for the history of the Macedonian liberation movement", including memories of famous revolutionaries, and books of another series - "Macedonian library." Authoritative Bulgarian researchers and foreign scientists were authors of scientific papers, popular booklets or papers, proving the Bulgarian character of Macedonia. Some valuable books, promoting the Macedonian issue, were printed in foreign languages.
In 1930, the MSI began constructing a Macedonian House of culture. The construction of the building was financially supported by the Macedonian refugee organizations in Bulgaria, the Macedonian Cooperative Bank, the Macedonian Popular Bank, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary organization (IMRO) and private individuals. Many refugees donated their personal savings. The building was completed in 1937 and it has been preserved until present days. The House gave shelter to the central organs of the refugee organizations and became patriotic cultural-educational fireplace of the Bulgarians from Macedonia.
After September 9, 1944 the activities of the MSI were limited due to state-political reasons. It was suppressed because of the intentions of the new governmental circles to implement the idea of a Bulgarian-Yugoslav Federation and "Macedonian nation". The heads of the Institute were accused of routing Great-Bulgarian chauvinistic tendencies in the society. Many were removed from teaching and public activities; others were arrested and received heavy sentences or ‘disappeared without a trace’. As heads of the Institute were appointed people close to the government, who ignored the ideas and legacy of its founders, including the provisions of its statute. They fulfilled the wishes of the new government for the country's rapprochement with Yugoslavia, denying publicly the Bulgarian character of Macedonia which is why they lost authority and influence among the Macedonian Bulgarians.
On 2 July, 1947, by order of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party, the General Assembly of MSI passed a resolution on its ‘self-dissolution’ and ‘donating’ to the People's Republic of Macedonia the book fund of its library, archival manuscripts and hundreds of ethnographic objects from its collection.
On May 3, 1990, the Macedonian Scientific Institute was restored and quickly re-established itself as the leading Bulgarian scientific centre of expertise with the status of a non-governmental scientific organization (NGO). It resumed issuing "Macedonian Review" and preserved its the traditions of one of the oldest journals in the world, dedicated to Macedonia and the struggles of Macedonian Bulgarians for national liberation. On its pages are published valuable research papers of famous Bulgarian and foreign authors from various branches of science – history, linguistics, literature, archival studies, political science, ethnology, sociology, cultural studies. The Institute also restored the series "Macedonian library", published the multivolume edition "National and Liberation Movement of the Macedonian and Thracian Bulgarians 1878-1944", numerous documentaries and research collections, including "British Diplomatic Documents Concerning the Bulgarian National Question (1873–1893)", "Macedonia through the Eyes of the Austrian Consuls (1851–1878)", "The English Press about the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising of 1903", "Linguistic Studies of Macedonia", “The Bulgarians in Aegean Macedonia. A Myth or Reality ", “The National Unification of Bulgaria 1940-1944”, “110 Years of the Ohrid-Debar Uprising”, etc.; established the "Kraeznanie" (Regional Studies) Library, printed books in English and French and implements long-term research projects. The MSI has currently 80 members – famous scientists, teachers, archive and museum workers, public figures, intellectuals.
Except in Sofia, it has established structures in the country: a branch in Blagoevgrad, scientific information groups in Varna, Gotse Delchev, Dupnitsa, Kyustendil, Petrich, Razlog, and Sandanski. The Macedonian Institute has become a preferred partner of scientific institutes, universities, archives, museums and municipalities in the conduct of international, national and regional scientific forums. It has organized over 120 conferences, seminars, "round tables" and lectures on the occasion of anniversaries, which subjected to rethinking events, processes and personalities connected with Macedonia, which due to conjuncture political considerations have been left in oblivion. The presentations made at these events became accessible to numerous readers due to the published proceedings. The members of the institute took part in and supervised the writing of valuable regional histories.
The scientific activities of the MSI, of its branch in Blagoevgrad and of the scientific groups cover not only the territory of Bulgaria, but spread far beyond its borders. After its restoration in 1990 the MSI quickly accumulated influence and became one of the authoritative scientific and expert centers in the Balkans. It analyzes the contemporary relationship of Bulgaria with Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo; elaborates and sends to Bulgarian and foreign institutions declarations, addresses, memorandums and "open letters" on the Macedonian question. When conflict situations arise in the Republic of Macedonia his experts are welcome in the media. The Institute has established contacts with individual scientists and numerous scientific centres of Slavonic and Bulgarian Studies in Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia. The institute participates in conferences and presents books in the European Parliament in Brussels, in the Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Serbia.
Dozens of foreign researchers and postgraduate students seek for consultations and meetings with the members and leaders of the institute, use its specialized library with rare editions as well as the publications in its site. Being established in order to preserve the ideas and traditions, bequeathed from its first founders, today and in the future the institute will defend and popularize the historical truth about the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage in Macedonia.
© Assoc. Prof. Alexander Grebenarov, PhD, text, 2016
© Apostol Apostolov, illustrator, 2016
© Macedonian Scientific Institute, 2016 5, Pirotska Str., Sofia, 1000, tel. +359 (02) 987 87 08;