The President: Bulgaria Expects the Republic of North Macedonia to Demonstrate Political Will to Cover the EU Membership Criteria and to Respect the Rights of Citizens Manifesting Their Bulgarian National Identity
An expert discussion on the condition and perspectives of developing bilateral relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia was held in the Presidential institution at the initiative of Mr. Rumen Radev
The advancement of the Republic of North Macedonia towards fully-fledged membership in the European Union is a strategic goal for Bulgaria. Its realisation, however, depends on the readiness and political will of Bulgaria’s Southwestern neighbour to cover the EU membership criteria and to respect the rights of citizens manifesting their Bulgarian national identity, stated President Rumen Radev during an expert discussion on the condition and perspectives of developing bilateral relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia held at the Presidency today at the initiative of Mr. Rumen Radev. Vice President Iliana Iotova, renowned Bulgarian academia, experts, diplomats, and journalists participated in the meeting.
Participants in the discussion underlined that the European integration of all states in the Western Balkans is of strategic interest to our country and would contribute to strengthening the democratic processes and promoting good-neighbourly relations and economic growth in the entire region.
Solving the issues in bilateral relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia requires political will, an active institutional dialogue and achieving irreversibility of the establishment of good-neighbourly relations, Rumen Radev pointed out. According to the President, overcoming the discords accumulated over time in the long-term could not be achieved simply by political declarations, but communication and commitment of institutions at all levels, as well as wisdom, rationality and acumen would be necessary on both sides.
According to the President, the role of the State and public media in the Republic of North Macedonia is of key importance to the creation of a new climate in bilateral relations. Bulgaria expects its Southwestern neighbour to work for the establishment of all the necessary conditions for free economic, cultural, media, and information flow between both sides of the common border. Putting an end to hate speech towards Bulgaria as well as to media and public campaigns stigmatising people who have maintained their Bulgarian self-identity despite the pressure and repressions of a totalitarian past is of key importance. The falsification of historical sources and works of literature should also be discontinued and the content of textbooks, explanatory notes on historical monuments as well as official pages of scientific, educational and cultural institutions should be in line with original sources and historical truth.
The experts called for putting an end to discrimination against citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia who manifest their Bulgarian national identity, which is of key importance for the development of bilateral relations. The increasingly frequent cases of violations of their rights, the fear instilled in any who dare to show their Bulgarian origin and the punishment of any good intentions towards or will to connect with the fatherland is a breach of the Copenhagen Accession Criteria. The Bulgarian society is very sensitive to this topic and there is no government that would ignore these circumstances.
According to participants in the discussion, the neglect of several aspects of the Bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Good-neighbourliness, and Cooperation on behalf of the Republic of North Macedonia casts doubts upon its declared desire to build good-neighbourly relations with Bulgaria. Therefore, Bulgaria must insist on warranties regarding the respect of rights of Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia, which must be legally regulated and implemented in practice. Achieving sustainable and irreversible results in this direction on behalf of the Republic of North Macedonia must become a mandatory condition for achieving advancement in the process of European integration.