“Bulgarian politicians, like ordinary citizens, see Macedonians as ethnic Bulgarians, or at least believe we were until the end of World War II,” said the RNM president.
“According to Bulgarian explanations, they want to imitate Greek behavior towards Northern Macedonia in recent decades, introducing conditions for our entry into the EU to protect their national interests,” Northern Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski was quoted as saying by MIA on May 26th.
In an interview with Euronews, Pendarovski said it was necessary to talk about the real arguments and criteria the country has met in order to join the Union, rather than discussing events from the 19th or 20th century.
“Bulgarian demands are much more contradictory than Greek ones. Why? Because the Greeks have never questioned our ethnic origin. They have never said ‘you are not Macedonian.’ “Macedonian, you can do it. If some people in Greece today say they are Macedonians, they have the right to do so. Bulgaria disputes the identity of Macedonians and that is the big problem,” Pendarovski said.
According to him, Bulgaria expresses the position of Bulgarian society as a result of the long-standing position of Bulgarian politicians and historians dating back to communist times.
“After the Second World War, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, Macedonia was talked about as a fictional nation created by Tito’s decree. So I really think that Bulgarian politicians, as well as ordinary citizens, are watching of Macedonians as ethnic Bulgarians, or at least believe that we were so until the end of World War II. They also consider the Macedonian language, which is known and recognized worldwide, as a dialect of Bulgarian, “said Stevo Pendarovski in an interview with Euronews.
President Pendarovski added that he saw a significant change in Bulgaria’s behavior. Despite all the events on the European continent with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and all geopolitical motives that call into question the concept of a united Europe, Pendarovski said Bulgaria’s position is still firm ahead of Brussels’ decision, expected by the end of June.
According to him, the chances of Northern Macedonia to start membership talks with the EU after 17 years of candidate status are below 50 per cent.
Regarding the inclusion of the Bulgarian minority in the constitution of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Pendarovski says this is one of the few things that unites the ruling party and the opposition.
“This is one of the topics on which all parties in parliament are unanimous. Why not include Bulgarians in our constitution? But we want this to be bound by a deadline, we want a guarantee that this is the last request from Bulgaria for the Bulgarian minority. Bulgarians living in northern Macedonia, otherwise every month or every year we will have to continue to persuade our citizens to change something, be it our constitution, laws or anything else, we can do it, but where is the guarantee that this is the last Bulgarian request on this topic? “, said the head of state of Northern Macedonia.
Asked about the secession of Albania at the start of negotiations with the EU, Pendarovski said it would be perfectly normal for Tirana to put the interests of its citizens first if it met all the conditions and there is still no green light from Bulgaria.