Reacting to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s refusal to meet President Gjorge Ivanov, visiting Sofia from Skopje, Bulgarian head of state Roumen Radev said: “When you call on someone to conduct a dialogue, you should not run away from it”.
Ivanov is in Sofia for a two-day visit starting on June 14 at the invitation of his counterpart Radev.
The refusal of Borissov and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva to meet Ivanov was prompted by his opposition to the Tsipras-Zaev “Republic of North Macedonia” name agreement, and the short shrift given by Ivanov to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov.
Ivanov said that Borissov would have to take responsibility for his refusal to meet him, adding that Borissov – whose country currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU – was not achieving the main goal of that presidency.
The Western Balkans are the stated priority of the Bulgarian EU Presidency in the first half of 2018.
Ivanov and Radev have in common that they both come from political backgrounds different from those of the governments of their respective countries. Ivanov was elected on a ticket of the VMRO-DPMNE, now in opposition. Radev won election on a ticket backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party.
Ivanov said: “Boiko Borissov is the Prime Minister of the EU Presidency, and he talks about dialogue. But with this gesture, he is taking sides, and does not implement the main goal of his presidency”.
Radev said: “I hope that our priorities for the Western Balkans will not be reduced to hugs and abdication of the problems.
“In my view, Bulgaria needs to seek intensive contacts and dialogue not only with the Macedonian government but also to seek dialogue with the president, the opposition, and so on. Only in this way will we have constructive and friendly relations,” Radev said.
He said that Bulgaria supports the results of the talks on the name of the former Yugoslav republic,but the dialogue between the two countries should not be interrupted.
“We accept the results of the negotiations between Greece and Macedonia, above all, and to the extent that they remove important obstacles in the path of this integration process, but it must be clear that the main pledge of our support is strict compliance with Article 11 of the Treaty of Friendship, Neighbourliness and Co-operation of 2017, according to which the two states undertake not to have hostile actions against each other, to have no territorial claims against each other, and to neutralize the bad-faith propaganda aimed at hatred and violence,” Radev said.
“The treaty between Macedonia and Greece imposes a change in the name of Macedonia, which means for us to continue to respect its commitment to the interpretation of the Constitution so that it does not become an interference of its neighbours.
“There is a wording in the treaty with Greece that it will not be targeted at third parties, which is too general. If we compare the two treaties, we will see that the treaty with Greece excludes corrections and cancellations, and the treaty with Bulgaria allows for termination. That puts Bulgaria in a position to seek additional guarantees,” Radev said.
“We must categorically exclude any intervention and support for Macedonia for organizations on our territory that have a character against our constitution. I expect the Bulgarian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enter these contractual commitments in Chapter 35 of the future contractual framework of Macedonia’s EU membership negotiations, ” Radev said, adding that this meant clear procedures for monitoring and observing the fulfillment of the conditions.
In Bulgaria, Borissov’s refusal to meet Ivanov was criticised by the opposition BSP but supported by government minority partner the United Patriots./IBNA