Bulgarian side disappointed with 12th meeting of Bulgaria-North Macedonia Joint Scientific Committee

Bulgarian side disappointed with 12th meeting of Bulgaria-North Macedonia Joint Scientific Committee

“Unfortunately, I can not say that the first meeting this year with colleagues from the Republic of North Macedonia generated any optimism. It was completely fruitless,” Angel Dimitrov, co-chairman of the Joint Scientific Committee of Experts on Historical and Educational Issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia told BGNES. This meeting was the 12th held since 2018.

Professor Dimitrov summed up that the only positive result was the signing of a pending protocol from previous meetings. “This is an important point because without it, the work of the Joint Committee cannot be formalized.”

“We managed to go ahead and sign the minutes of the ninth meeting. We are moving forward, and this is the only positive result in this context, to sign the minutes of the tenth meeting which took place last year. We hope to see the tenth protocol signed in the coming days,” commented Professor Dimitrov.

As he said, there is no progress and the “happy” claims by North Macedonian politicians that the historians have already finished the Middle Ages and are moving forward were adamantly rejected.

We are still somewhere in the 10th century and there is no step forward, because with our colleagues we can not reach an agreement on the preparation of a joint text, a proposal to the two governments, on the manuals of the Republic of North Macedonia, how they deal with this historical period and especially the end of the First Bulgarian Kingdom and the time ruled by King Samuel and his successors.

These discussions are not only very complicated from a psychological perspective for us; we are also facing a strange reluctance on behalf of our colleagues to comply with the basic principles of research, namely respect for historical sources and compliance with the dominant historical sources in this matter, the global historical science.

Our colleagues know that their position is difficult to defend, but they insist on equating the achievements of global media studies, in this case Bulgaria, and some works on this subject by local historians and several former Yugoslavia.

These can not be equated,” Professor Dimitrov was adamant.

“Another thing that surprised us unpleasantly is that our colleagues are seeking a new approach and new assessments of this historic era and King Samuel, which differ from the assessment we agreed on when we proposed the joint celebration of this Bulgarian ruler.

Such a double standard shows the reluctance to take a step forward. For us, the persistent escape from the definition of common history, enshrined in the Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness, is extremely unacceptable,” said Professor Dimitrov.

Dimitrov announced that there would be a new technical meeting in less than two weeks. The 13th meeting of the Joint Historical Committee is scheduled for the end of April.

Asked by BGNES whether the commission was a key element of the Neighborhood Agreement which should lead North Macedonia to EU membership and what the reason was for its work being stumbled or delayed -the actions of the deep state as Lyubcho Georgievski claimed, or the wall between Bulgaria and North Macedonia from Yugoslavia, as Zoran Zaev said- Professor Angel Dimitrov replied: “Things are complicated, everything you said in your question is in stagnation. We know our colleagues well. In this period, which is not short of 2018, we have noticed some change in their behavior, although from the beginning we have seen fundamental differences in the interpretation of history. The change of attitudes undoubtedly depends on the political atmosphere of the country. I will consciously avoid directing the debate and the answer in a purely political direction because I, the historians, want to remain in a purely scientific field. But you are watching closely and you know what statements are being made at a high political level and you know very well that they can only influence the behavior and positions of our colleagues.” /ibna