Does Bulgaria run the risk of being isolated within the EU for the veto on North Macedonia?

Does Bulgaria run the risk of being isolated within the EU for the veto on North Macedonia?

A possible veto from Sofia on the negotiations with North Macedonia would be absurd, as it is contrary to Bulgaria’s officially stated policy in support of European integration in the Western Balkans, an assessment by the Bulgarian expert community, and a message from the Parliament that lawmakers can help tackle misunderstandings between the two countries.

Bulgarian political analyst Ivan Krastev told Bulgarian media yesterday that he did not expect Bulgaria to block the start of negotiations between North Macedonia and the EU, as European integration in the Western Balkan is of strategic importance for Bulgaria and thus runs the risk of being completely isolated inside the EU.

“Besides that, the framework of the Bulgarian presidency has become a priority for Brussels. In this sense, the Bulgarian veto would be absurd. It would just look out of place. Until yesterday, we fought for the opening of the EU for North Macedonia, today we want to stop them. Not that irrational things cannot happen, but I am convinced that neither the Government nor the President would allow Bulgaria to be in complete isolation within the EU, says political scientist Krastev in an interview with the Bulgarian newspaper Dnevnik.

Concerning the open letter of about thirty Bulgarian intellectuals, historians, scientists and public figures against the explanatory memorandum sent by Sofia to the European Commission and the Member States, in which the serious allegations made and the red lines on Skopje’s road to the EU, Krastev considers it to be important, because among the signatories are some of the most authoritative Bulgarian historians.

“I am not a historian, but I believe that the letter is important, because among the signatories there are some of the most authoritative names in our history science, as it clearly shows that historical differences are not and should not be differences between countries, they are differences between historians. And because Europe cannot understand us if our position is that all nations in Europe are ‘natural’ and only the ‘Macedonian’ is artificial and that only Macedonians in Europe do not know what language they speak”, said the prominent Bulgarian analyst.

According to him, the start of negotiations between the EU and North Macedonia does not mean that Bulgaria accepts Skopje’s positions. “Brussels simply cannot replace the need for serious historical sciences”, said analyst Krastev.

The Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Bulgarian Parliament, Admiral Plamen Manushev, once again shows the confidence of the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, Boyko Borissov and Zoran Zaev, that a solution to the differences between the two countries will be found in the coming days and that the parliaments of the two countries can also assist in the process of finding a solution.

“The process is extremely intensive and I hope these things will happen in the coming days. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and our Prime Minister are convinced that such a solution will be found. Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva expressed Bulgaria’s position before their Foreign Minister. “I firmly hope that we will find a solution to this dispute and start the process”, Manushev was quoted as saying by the Bulgarian news agency BGNES.

Admiral Manushev also expressed surprise at the statement by the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zaev, who claimed that Bulgaria’s demands were hostile and non-European and not in the spirit of good neighbourliness. In this way, he refers to the Bulgarian explanatory memorandum, which lists the Bulgarian demands and the red lines, which, as he says, should not be abandoned and that a compromise solution should be found on both sides.

He also agrees with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who told Minister Osmani that we have a choice in finding a compromise and resolving the issues at stake.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said at the weekend that during Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani’s visit to Sofia last Sunday during talks with Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, he was presented with proposals that he said were neither neighbouring nor European.

“And if that is the case, we must prepare our Macedonian people that the first intergovernmental conference we are waiting for in December may not start. However, I do not believe that this is the position of Prime Minister Borissov, my friend and brother, I do not believe that this is the position of the Bulgarian people either. We will do everything in the coming days to find a solution”, Zaev said.

It should be noted that after a break of almost a year, a new meeting of the Joint Committee of Experts of North Macedonia-Bulgaria on Historical Issues is scheduled for the two-day period (Thursday-Friday) in Skopje.

Since last week’s meeting in Sofia, Osmani and Zaharieva expressed the expectation that the Commission would speed up its work and be able to yield results before November 10, when the summit of the Berlin process is due to take place in Sofia, chaired by the two countries. Osmani’s visit to Sofia was announced as a precursor to the meeting of the prime ministers of the two countries, Zaev and Borissov, for which no date has been set yet, but it should take place before November 10./ibna