Patriotism in the Balkans is a way of existence, part of our culture and perception of the world. But exactly the world that is constantly changing turns the closed national communities into something obsolete, jeopardizing the existence of patriotism. For example, the children of the political, economic and intellectual elites in both countries study and live abroad, and our countries are part of a community whose goal is for no borders to exist between its members. Besides being a way of existence and perception of the world, patriotism is another reason to compete in the Balkans. Therefore, we asked, "Are Bulgarians or Greeks greater patriots?"
The responses of the readers of GRReporter's Bulgarian page are an example of our low national self-confidence, which has been typical for Bulgarians in recent years. The largest group of respondents or 35% recognizes that Greeks protest and defend their rights, while Bulgarians agree with everything. At the same time, 25% of readers' votes go to the assertion that Greeks only seem to be patriots as each of them takes care of his personal interest. About 17% of respondents think that Bulgarians are great patriots, but only in words. 12% are influenced by the current scandal in Bulgaria, where there has been information on replacing the term "slavery" with "cohabitation" to describe the period of Ottoman rule in Bulgaria. This group of readers is of the opinion that for Greeks, Turks have remained their biggest enemy, whereas Bulgaria has renamed Ottoman rule cohabitation. The last most popular response is associated with the idea that nowadays patriotism is not the most important quality of a society, which is the preference of 11% of respondents.
The conclusion that can be drawn from the results of our Bulgarian language page is that even the competition with Greeks could not mobilize and unite the different groups of Bulgarian readers. It is clear that disunity is the new Bulgarian mentality.
The readers of our English page associate the question more with Greece than with Bulgaria. According to 45% of our English-speaking audience, Greeks’ patriotism is only a hollow structure that conceals personal interests. 25% agree that patriotism is not the most important quality of modern society. 18% stand behind the idea that Greeks protest and defend their rights, whereas Bulgarians agree with everything. 9% are of the opinion that Turkey remains the major enemy for Greeks. The option affecting Bulgarian patriotism has received no vote, which is why we believe that the audience has focused mainly on Greece.
The conclusion from the poll on the English page is that we are witnessing rather an assessment of Greek patriotism than a comparison with Bulgarian patriotism.
Interesting are the responses on the Greek page of our site. The largest group of readers supports the view that patriotism of Greeks is only a facade behind which everyone takes care only of his personal interest. This option is the preference of 46% of readers. 31% believe that Greeks protest and defend their rights, while Bulgarians agree with everything. 23% prefer the option that patriotism is not the most important quality of a society. Two options have received no vote at all, namely the one that defines Turks as enemies and the other, according to which Bulgarians are patriots, but only in words.
This poll also shows that readers have assessed Greek patriotism than comparing it with their neighbours’ patriotism.
We expected a much more serious competition in favour of national values. The poll, however, leaves the impression that readers are more prone to criticize their native society. Are the economic problems and the crisis of confidence in the governments and institutions in the two Balkan countries stifling the sense of national pride and dignity? Our self-reflection as citizens is redirected to constantly being dissatisfied with our own reality. Years ago, a similar poll would have provoked a greater demonstration of patriotism. Now? It seems that people have retired into their own shells, fighting for personal survival!