If the dispute between Bulgaria and North Macedonia is not resolved soon, it may escalate into a “frozen conflict,” Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said in an interview with Bulgarian television channel BTV, informs MIA.
“Going forward, politicians will have less and less strength, energy and courage to deal with this issue,” FM Osmani said. “This is why I am afraid that in a month or two this will turn into a frozen conflict that will last for years and lead to consequences for our relations, internal politics, and regional opportunities.
“I am convinced that in the second half of this year we will not have the same strength to be fully committed, with all the energy of the government, to resolving this issue, as we are now.” Even if this opportunity was missed, politicians would remain working constructively on resolving the dispute but the government would also have to focus on other domestic issues, Osmani said. In response to a question on the recent opening of the “Vancho Mihajlov” Bulgarian club in Bitola and whether its name had damaged bilateral relations, Osmani said public trust had been eroded and work needed to be done to restore it.
“Hanging at the entrance of the Bulgarian club in Bitola is a large board displaying a Vancho Mihajlov quote: ‘The so-called Macedonian people’s efforts to lie to the world are futile.’ This is a terrible insult to our citizens, a terrible insult to the people I represent. We consider this a provocation in our country,” Osmani said in the interview.
The foreign minister said he did not believe the Bulgarian authorities had gone to Bitola to support Mihajlov’s message.
However, he added, if the club had had a different name, North Macedonia’s government officials would have attended the opening, as well.
“Our entire Government would have been there because we welcome and want to encourage the Bulgarian community to organize, we want the Bulgarian community to integrate into our institutions, systems and mechanisms created through the framework agreement,” he said.
“But we have to be considerate regarding sensitive topics,” Osmani told BTV.
“We want to restore mutual trust. Of course, such issues will be less and less important to us, because we will be focusing on the future, on our common European perspective for both countries’ citizens. This is a delicate period in which both you and we need to be careful so we can create our common future,” he added.