POLITICS Macedonian language and identity non-negotiable, insist Pendarovski and Zaev

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev called claims that the Macedonian language and nation have Bulgarian origins ‘unacceptable’.

“We will not negotiate about the identity of Macedonians and about Macedonian language. These are our red lines,” Zaev told reporters after a session Thursday of the Security Council when asked to comment on a Politico article. Allegedly, a compromise has been offered at an ambassadorial level in Brussels with Bulgaria approving the first intergovernmental conference between the EU and North Macedonia and recognizing the Macedonian language and identity and with North Macedonia urged to acknowledge that its language and nation have Bulgarian origin.

“I can only say that Greece had recognized our right to self-determination. There won’t be and there shouldn’t be any negotiations about our identity and our Macedonian language. Bulgaria is a friend that has been vocal about recognizing both the Macedonian language and the Macedonian people. It recognizes the reality. I believe the working groups will find solutions,” he said.

Zaev said he expected Bulgaria’s leaders to make concrete steps involving the Macedonian language and Macedonian nation. “I emphasize that there won’t be any new agreement and no annex to the treaty,” the PM told reporters.

According to him, the country is prepared to make things more precise if necessary in the frameworks of the agreement signed with Bulgaria.

“A lot has been achieved so far, 10 sessions have been held. Solutions regarding five historical figures and three historical eras have been found. We’ll keep on going,” said Zaev.

He encouraged the members of the bilateral joint commission to work ‘in the spirit of friendship’. “A solution is of great importance for the two sides. It’s the only way to guarantee any future for the citizens,” Zaev said, noting that shared history with Bulgaria was ‘a fact’.

President Stevo Pendarovski echoed the same sentiment over the Macedonian language and identity.

“Our position is clear – the identity of the Macedonian people and the Macedonian language are non-negotiable. Signing the Prespa [Agreement] and the Treaty, we got a text with a precise formulation included in the largest global organization [UN] – Macedonian language. Period. We will not yield, we will always defend our lines,” Pendarovski stressed.

Asked how a compromise could be possible if all sides kept firmly to their positions, he said it would happen the same way a compromise had been found with Greece.

“After negotiating for 25 years, we came to a realization what matters to them and what matters to us and ultimately, we reached an agreement through compromise. I’m confident that Bulgaria’s leaders acknowledge that the Macedonian language and the Macedonian nation is a reality,” noted President Pendarovski.

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