Bulgaria urges North Macedonia to declare to the UN that it has no territorial claims from Bulgaria, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said on Thursday.
She explained to Bulgarian TV bTV that the progress she announced two days ago was in fact related to the fact that the authorities in Skopje are ready to ensure that the name “North Macedonia” refers only to the country and has nothing to do with a geographical area.
“They announced it to NATO, now they are ready to declare it to the EU, we want it to the UN as well”, Zaharieva said.
The Bulgarian Foreign Minister rules out the possibility of Bulgaria changing its position under external pressure, given the extremely active Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency. She also ruled out a last-minute change of position.
Earlier on the same television network, former Bulgarian Defence Minister Ivan Kostov and NATO Ambassador Boyko Noev commented that “we may be surprised at the last minute because foreign policy is personally pursued”.
Zaharieva said the Council of Ministers was the only competent body to deal with this issue.
She also rejected criticism of the 2017 Good Neighbourly Agreement with Skopje. According to her, the only problem is that North Macedonia is not implementing it. Contrary to the agreement between Athens and Skopje, the Bulgarian one is mostly desirable and the details are missing.
Boyko Noev commented that Bulgaria has fallen into an unprecedented isolation of foreign policy on this issue.
“We now realize that the good neighbourly agreement with North Macedonia does not guarantee our interests, it is very general without clear obligations on both sides”, Boyko Noev explained.
For him, the problem is that now, before the start of EU accession negotiations, we have to explain to our allies that we have a problem with North Macedonia.
“If we take Greece as an example, they have explained to the international community for decades what the problem is. Bulgaria did not do that because of naivety and historical nostalgia”, Boyko Noev said.
According to him, the current political government has thrown the solution of the problems between North Macedonia and Bulgaria in the field of history. “The historical committee was responsible for the political resolution of existential issues. There is no way to negotiate for Goce Delchev, we cannot negotiate for historical events”, Noev said.
According to him, Bulgaria must show strategic patience, because it is in the EU and NATO and does not need to rush.
Zaharieva rejected Noev’s criticism, which, in her opinion, does not understand the issue well.
MEP from the minority party MRF and the group “Renewal of Europe” in the European Parliament Ilhan Kyuchyuk, commented that Brussels has difficulty understanding the talks between Sofia and Skopje.
“We want to send a strong message, a pro-European signal that the European Union sees the Republic of North Macedonia, sees the region as an integral part of not only its geographical, but also its political and economic development. The countries of the Western Balkans must join the EU as soon as possible”, said the MEP, who is the European Parliament’s permanent rapporteur for the Republic of North Macedonia.
“Brussels is based on our modern behavior, specific activities in international forms. Brussels does not currently understand the talks between the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria. “Brussels does not need to understand in detail what is happening between us, returning to the different stages of our development”, the MP noted.
“If the Prespa Agreement solved a problem with the Hellenic Republic and eliminated it forever, in order to show that the past and the present have nothing in common, then the Bulgarian agreement with the Republic of North Macedonia starts a process, so to speak that everything was common”, Kyuchyuk said./ibna