Macedonia, Bulgaria Relations Improving


By Aleksandar Pavlevski

Bulgarian political leaders and citizens have been sending messages of reconciliation and good neighbourly relations with Macedonia, raising hopes that the country will support Macedonia’s EU membership negotiations at the upcoming EU summit in Brussels.

“We support the European perspective of all our neighbours, including our brothers from Macedonia,” Marin Raykov, former Bulgarian prime minister, told a press conference in late May.

Jove Kekenovski, a political science professor at the Ohrid tourism faculty, said the trust between the two nations should continue to grow stronger.

“Though the 2013 European Commission report noted progress of good neighbourly relations [between Macedonia and Bulgaria], and several measures were taken to build confidence, Bulgarian politicians are still threatening to block our EU integration,” Kekenovski told SETimes.

“Building mutual trust will allow in the future to get rid of historical stereotypes and unilateral interpretations of history,” Kekenovski said.

Vladimir Bozinovski, an analyst at the Skopje Democracy Institute, said that the lack of an actual, effective government in Bulgaria up to late May adversely affected Macedonia.

“If it is expected that only Macedonia make concessions [at the EU summit], there will be no progress,” Bozinovski said.

Georgi Spasov, Macedonia’s former ambassador to Bulgaria, also thinks that the political situation is effecting the current official Bulgarian stance relating to Macedonia.

“At a time when it’s clear that Macedonia would not receive a date for [EU] negotiations, the current Bulgarian leadership may have calculated it is better to make a greater bonding with Greece,” Spasov told the Macedonian media.

Andrey Kovacev, a Bulgarian MP, told Macedonia’s daily Dnevnik that Sofia does not wish to show strength in the EU by giving support for Greece’s veto.

“Bulgaria would not put a veto on Macedonia. The fact is that the conclusions of the European Council were adopted unanimously by all member states. If it is a veto, then it is from all 27 member states,” Kovacev said.

According to him, Bulgaria would like to have excellent relations with Macedonia.

“Both countries must find common ground … to move towards greater integration and stabilisation. The people had enough problems,” Nikola Krstevski, Skopje resident, told SETimes.

“Macedonians have to accept compromise when it comes to history. We consider Macedonians our closest people with whom we share common history. They say they are different and special, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. In the future there must be more economic and cultural co-operation, even when it comes to history, if we want all to move forward toward a united Europe,” Maria Vasileva, Sofia resident, told SETimes.

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