Pendarovski: Discussing changes to the Constitution or changing the Good Neighbourliness Agreement with Bulgaria is preposterous

Pendarovski: Discussing changes to the Constitution or changing the Good Neighbourliness Agreement with Bulgaria is preposterous

As President, so far I have not received anything in writing nor any oral information has reached my ear that during Osmani’s meetings in Sofia a series of requests were handed over, as the media wrote, said the President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski.

In an interview with Telma TV’s Top Tema show, he confirmed that for the past three months he has been working intensively bilaterally with Sofia to overcome misunderstandings and made use, as he said, of the good services of Germany’s EU presidency, which has a strategic interest in the European integration of the region and is expected to hold the first intergovernmental conferences with North Macedonia and Albania.

“Until today, not even verbally, no one has asked the Bulgarian side to change the Constitution. As for the interpretation of the bilateral agreement, this is not the first time that someone from Sofia has asked for a political statement or a statement explaining certain things in the 2017 Agreement. There is a statement by Bulgarian President Radev calling for an annex to this agreement which is supposedly not being observed, or practically a new agreement”, Pendarovski said.

The President of North Macedonia adds that in several other cases there are proposals from Sofia to make a political statement or a statement that both sides will commit to a committee composed of historians to work faster, but, he stressed, there is no time frame for this project.

“I assure you that our committee set up for the Agreement is made up of historians from both sides and is functioning quite steadily. In the last year, it did not work at all because of coronavirus and because of the postponed elections. At that time they had a gentleman’s agreement on that. The committee cannot operate online. Except for this year when there were no meetings, I can assure you that the committee worked quite well. And I claim that there is no historical committee of this kind in any European country that has functioned better and faster than ours in the last 100 years”, Pendarovski said about the work of the Joint Committee of Historical Issues between North Macedonia-Bulgaria. The 10th meeting was to take place tomorrow in Skopje.

Regarding the pressure from Bulgaria to revise the 2017 Agreement, Pendarovski noted that, we can only offer confirmation with a political statement that we really meant in certain points of the agreement, if necessary or to convince EU members, but within the parameters of this Agreement, not with a new agreement.

“It is not necessary to discuss any changes to the Constitution or annexes and additions to the Agreement», Pendarovski said.

He clarifies that the dissatisfaction in Sofia is due, as he estimates, to the alleged neglect by us of the 2017 Agreement in contrast to the Prespa Agreement. Given the differences in the legal meaning of these agreements, one is a bilateral and the other an international agreement, and both agreements in the political sense are equally important to us, because both agreements open great doors to European integration.

“We can sign a statement confirming the values ​​on which the Good Neighbourliness Agreement is based,” he said.

Regarding the negotiating framework, he noted that internal talks are underway in the EU to harmonize its content. And our diplomacy, he said, indirectly and bilaterally tries to clarify our views on the controversial remarks of Bulgaria attached to the explanatory memorandum sent to the EU and the Member States, questioning the ethnogenesis, the Macedonian people and the Macedonian language, claiming that it is a dialectal form of Bulgarian, and with their formal modification to call it a negotiation framework, is that only the official language should be used without mentioning Macedonian which is again nonsense, practical things you cannot negotiate because the Macedonian language for a long time now is a linguistic fact.

The President of North Macedonia reiterated his statement in which he noted that it is a firm position of North Macedonia, that if we do not enter as Macedonians who speak Macedonian, we do not need such an EU./ibna