Bulgaria-North Macedonia Joint Commission on Historical Issues Will Resume Work

Bulgaria-North Macedonia Joint Commission on historical and educational issues will resume its work on October 15th and 16th, after a year-long break. This became clear after a meeting between Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva with the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani on October 9.
This is the first visit of the new North Macedonian Foreign Minister abroad and it restarts the political dialogue between Sofia and Skopje.
Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister: The necessary compromises must be made on both sides.
The re-convened commission on historical issues, which has held only nine meetings in three years, should propose compromise formulas for the two countries’ shared history.
For three years the historians agreed only on King Samuel, St. St. Cyril and Methodius and St. Naum.
“It would be a sin against history if the current political leaders in Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia failed to find a compromise. The world will not understand us either,” Borissov said.
Germany's presidency of the Council of the EU intends Skopje to start negotiations with the EU by mid-December, but Bulgaria wants to see real progress in clearing up historical disputes.
Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: We expect the commission to understand the historical events and personalities and to make a list. And we expect those it has agreed on to enter the curricula of the two countries.
North Macedonia explained the suspension of the commission's work with the early election campaign and reminded that both parties have an obligation under the Good Neighbourly Relations Agreement.
Bulgaria has an obligation under Article 2 to support the Euro-Atlantic integration of North Macedonia. We are committed to delivering results, said Bujar Osmani, the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia.
Language remains a point of controversy. Bulgaria uses the term "official language of the Republic of North Macedonia", not recognizing the existence of the so-called "Macedonian language". Skopje sees this as a refusal to recognize their national identity.
We do not mind the Macedonian citizens self-identify as they decide. We do not mind. We have an agreement in our language clause agreement. We want it to be applied. This is disputed by you, not by us, commented Minister Zaharieva.
Borissov to Osmani: We must not stop the Republic of North Macedonia and the countries of the Western Balkans on the road to the EU.
During his meeting with Bujar Osmani, PM Borissov said that he very much hoped that North Macedonia would receive the necessary assurances from Bulgaria and that it would be on the path to joining the EU.
“The necessary compromises must be made, as many others have done. We have a duty to present and future generations to ensure that the Republic of North Macedonia, Albania and the countries of the Western Balkans are not stopped in any way on the road to the European Union,” Borissov added.
He said that talks at all levels should start as of today, so that by November 10, when Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, as co-chairs of the Berlin Process, will chair the Summit, there can be a compromise solution that is satisfactory to all.
“You have a lot of work to do, this is a very complex, very fast and at the same time important and necessary process,” Borissov said.
“Your citizens need to know that in Bulgaria you have and have always had the greatest support and that we just need to make history a bridge of friendship and closeness, not a broken bridge on which the Republic of North Macedonia cannot pass. So there should be no political games here,” he said.
Prime Minister Borissov also expressed concern over the EP resolution, which called on Bulgaria to respect the rights of minorities, including their right to freedom of expression and association, referring to the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden (OMO Ilinden).
Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister: This is by no means useful at this very moment when we are looking for a compromise. This, in my opinion, I do not know where it came from, but it is a fact.
OMO-Ilinden was banned by the Constitutional Court in 1999 because of a threat to the unity of the Bulgarian nation. /BNT News