European Western Balkans

Zaev: The Balkan nations should lend a hand of reconciliation to each other

Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev during the meetign with the EU Ambassadors to North Macedonia; Photo: Government of North Macedonia

SKOPJE – The Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev stated that Europe has solved its issues in a European way and that the Balkans should also solve its issues in a European way, if it wants to continue towards Europe, Nova.rs reports.

Asked why he called the Bulgarian occupation forces in the Second World War an “administration”, Zaev said “let’s not forget, but let’s forgive”.

“To lend a hand and look through the prism of the future. Because we need to live today, and we need to secure the future for future generations as well,” Zaev said, adding that he saw negative reactions in the public in North Macedonia to that statement and that he understands them, but he stressed that leaders should lead the country and take the next step.

The Prime Minister of North Macedonia emphasized that he fully understands the feelings of certain fellow citizens and stated that those same fellow citizens share the same history as his own.

“The anti-fascist struggle is also a part of my family, a part of the city in which I live. It is a part of my homeland. But that historical past should not limit us in tracing the path of our European future,” Zaev pointed out.

He added that there are facts that tsarist Bulgaria “sided with the Tripartite Pact of Fascism” in 1941, but that this does not mean that today the whole of Bulgaria can be qualified as fascist.

Zaev pointed out that the fascist occupation was present everywhere in Europe and the world.

“It is an occupation, but it is not a reason to say that an entire nation, regardless of whether it is Macedonian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Serbian, is an occupier. That is why I say ‘administration’,” said Zaev.

Zakharieva: We will block Skopje until they stop with the hate speech

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva said that Bulgaria will block the start of negotiations between North Macedonia and the EU until hate speech about everything that is Bulgarian is over, Nova.rs reports.

Zakharieva accused the Macedonian political elite of stimulating and tolerating hate speech for the past 30 years, which also affected ordinary citizens in that country.

“The problem with history is that misinterpretation of events has a direct impact and that creates hate speech and a negative campaign against Bulgarians and Bulgaria, which is unacceptable for us,” Zakharieva emphasized and added that Bulgaria has never denied the right to the existence of the Macedonian state, its sovereignty and the right to call the language as they wish.

However, she pointed out that all that should not happen with the help of lies about how that nation came into being.

Zakharieva reminds that Bulgaria is the first country to recognize Macedonian independence in 1991 and the first country to raise the issue of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans during its presidency of the Union in 2018.

However, she points out that Bulgaria is afraid of the territorial claims of North Macedonia and claims that the Macedonian minority lives in Bulgaria, which she called irredentism.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister says Sofia is asking for three Bulgarian demands to be included in the negotiating framework for North Macedonia with the EU – that Macedonian be formulated as the official language of North Macedonia, that there be a clear framework for implementing the 2017 Friendship Agreement and that Skopje stops claiming that there is a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.

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