The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party said on June 13 that it wants to know what guarantees the Bulgarian government intends demanding that the “Republic of North Macedonia” name will not be a prerequisite for territorial claims on Bulgaria.
Speaking the day after the announcement of the Zaev-Tsipras agreement on ending the dispute over the use of the name “Macedonia” BSP foreign affairs spokesperson Kristian Vigenin said that Bulgaria had recognised its south-western neighbour as the Republic of Macedonia.
“We appreciate the efforts of Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev to close a dispute that has been causing tension in our region for a long time. At the same time, it is recalled that the name of the Republic of Northern Macedonia contains a geographical definition, which contradicts the repeated position of a series of Bulgarian governments and presidents, which must be taken into consideration by the current cabinet,” Vigenin said.
“We want a guarantee that the change of name will not lead to territorial claims regarding the history of our country and the identity of Bulgarian citizens,” Vigenin said.
He said that the BSP proposes that Bulgaria’s position at the beginning of Macedonia’s EU membership talks should be bound to the giving of such guarantees in the spirit of good neighbourliness and mutual support.
“We hope that the accelerated European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Macedonia, together with the already in force Neighbourhood and Friendship Agreement, will allow for more active interaction on both sides of the border,” Vigenin said.
In October 2013, when he was foreign minister in the “Oresharski” cabinet, Vigenin caused controversy when it emerged that at a meeting with his Greek counterpart, he had described the country as the “former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia” – against decades of Bulgarian government policy to use that country’s constitutional name, the “Republic of Macedonia”.
Yulian Angelov, of the United Patriots – the grouping of ultra-nationalist and far-right parties that i the minority partner in government – said that the BSP should be apologising for the fact “that Macedonia and the Macedonian nation exist, rather than asking for guarantees”.
“They were part of the process when the Macedonian nation was created by a Comintern decision. So they should apologise to the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarians in Macedonia for the Frankenstein they created,” Angelov said.
He said that the United Patriots welcomed the fact that a compromise had been found between Athens and Skopje and a problem in the Balkans would be resolved.
Stanislav Stanilov, also of the United Patriots, said that “Macedonia had no great choice, we also had to make compromises with reality”.
“The question is not the name but the identity. They should admit, ‘we are the Macedonian nation, but our origins are in the Bulgarian people’,” Stanilov said.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the fourth-largest group in Bulgaria’s Parliament, did not comment.
Krassimir Vulchev, of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s GERB party, said that the “Republic of North Macedonia” name was “acceptable to us, the best option of all possible”.
It should not give the opportunity to any government or party in Macedonia to have pretensions towards other countries, he said…. / IBNA