The two-day 11th meeting of the North Macedonia-Bulgaria Joint Committee begins today

The two-day 11th meeting of the North Macedonia-Bulgaria Joint Committee begins today

The content of the history textbooks of North Macedonia for the medieval period and the early Ottoman period will be the topic of the 11th meeting of the Joint Committee of Historical and Educational Issues of North Macedonia-Bulgaria, which will take place today and tomorrow. At the previous meeting, recommendations for the Bulgarian textbooks for these periods had been reviewed and approved.

The topic of the conversation will be the possible joint celebration of Goce Delchev and the meeting will take place online due to the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Commission informed the MIA agency.

A day before the meeting, Commission Co-Chairs Dragi Gjeorgiev from North Macedonia and Angel Dimitrov from Bulgaria expressed differing views on the latest developments in the Skopje-Sofia consultations.

In a statement to Bulgarian National Television (BNT), Dimitrov noted that there are differences between politicians and historians.

“Politicians on both sides want progress, but the historians of North Macedonia in the commission are doing everything possible to prevent this from happening”, he said.

He said he was looking forward to the new meeting of the Commission on Historical Issues, but expressed hope that they would take at least a small step forward.

“We always wanted to work harder at a tight pace, but that did not happen. Only five meetings are scheduled for next year, which is not enough”, said Dimitrov, who is also Bulgaria’s former ambassador to North Macedonia. He believes that such an approach delays the resolution of disputes in the near future.

Professor Gjeorgiev, in a statement to Radio Free Europe, expressed surprise at the statement of his colleague, who, among other things, stated that the Bulgarian position is unique and politically monolithic, in contrast to the Macedonian one.

“I am surprised by the strong political statement of the academic colleague and the special body, on the eve of the new meeting. The attitude of a monolithic political position in relation to the views of the past resembles the echo of another era. Also, organizing our work based on political demands and views is academically unacceptable”, Gjeorgiev said.

At the last meeting in October in Skopje, historians from North Macedonia and Bulgaria made no progress on Goce Delchev, although new ideas and suggestions about his character and work were put on the table.

“There are small moves forward and for me it is important at the moment. The conversation process continues, with all the difficulties and all the sensitive issues on the table. I ask for patience and more attention from us and our colleagues in Bulgaria, so that the issues can be discussed with as little emotion and intensity as possible. Only in this way can things be overcome, Gjeorgiev said after the two-day meeting.

Dimitrov then sent a message that he expects responsible behavior towards historical events in order to achieve a situation in which there will be no more problems. “The identity of Goce Delchev is determined by himself and not by us. It is as it is. It is his family, the environment in which he is formed as an individual. That is the identity”, Dimitrov said.

The meeting in October was the first for this year. In June, the Commission held a virtual meeting to discuss the content of the minutes of the ninth meeting.

The Joint Committee of Historical and Educational Issues of North Macedonia-Bulgaria, which decides on the joint celebration of personalities and events in common history and to help overcome various interpretations, has so far made some progress compared to the ancient period and the Middle Ages.

So far, over a period of two years, the Commission has organized a joint celebration of five historical figures important for the history and culture of the Macedonian and Bulgarian peoples, but also for other peoples in the Balkans and Europe, Saints Cyril and Methodius, St. Clement, St. Naum and Tsar Samuel. Recommendations for the improvement of history books for the sixth grade in North Macedonia and the fifth grade in Bulgaria, which refer to the ancient period, as well as proposals for the improvement of textbooks for the 6th grade/7th grade, were approved

Estimates have been confirmed by both sides that the most difficult period for examination will be the events and personalities of the 19th and early 20th century, the period of emergence of cultural, intellectual and political movements that take place in the country, where there are serious differences in both historiographies./ibna