As President, I have not received a written demand or even a verbal information that Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani was given any set of demands at his meetings in Sofia, as reported by media, says President Stevo Pendarovski.
President Pendarovski told Telma TV there have been intensive efforts with Sofia over the past three months for overcoming of misunderstandings, and “the good services of Germany” as the EU chair-country are also utilized, due to its strategic interest to Europeanize the region and hold the first intergovernmental conferences with North Macedonia and Albania.
“No one from Bulgaria has even verbally demanded a constitutional revision. Regarding the interpretation of the bilateral treaty, this is not the first time that Sofia requests a political declaration or a statement for further elaboration of the 2017 Friendship Treaty. There was a statement by President Radev in which he required an annex to the treaty, practically a new agreement,” says Pendarovski.
According to him, there were proposals coming from Sofia on several occasions for a political statement or declaration for the purpose of the countries’ commitment to accelerating the work of the commission of historians, adding “there is no timeframe for its work”.
“I can confirm that the commission arising from the treaty is working quite well on both sides. There were no meetings over the past year due to the COVID-19 and the elections here. There was a kind of gentlemen’s agreement on this. The commission cannot work online. I can also tell you there is no history commission of this format in any European state over the past 100 years that has worked better and faster than this one,” says Pendarovski about the commission, which is set to hold its 10th meeting in Skopje on October 15-16.
On Bulgaria’s pressure for revision of the 2017 treaty, the President says North Macedonia can offer only a reaffirmation through a political declaration to clarify certain points, but within the parameters of the existing agreement, not a new agreement.
“It is beyond any reason to discuss any constitutional revision or annexes to the treaty,” says Pendarovski.
He notes that Sofia is displeased because of an alleged neglect of the treaty on the part of North Macedonia, unlike the Prespa Agreement. The agreements differ from a legal point of view, since one is a bilateral one and the other an international one, but in a political sense, they are both important for North Macedonia, opening the country’s doors to its European integration.
Asked about the negotiating framework, Pendarovski says there are discussions within the EU for alignment of its content.
“Our diplomacy is indirectly and bilaterally trying to clarify our positions on the disputed remarks by Bulgaria in the explanatory memorandum it sent to the EU member-states, in which it denies the ethno-genesis of the Macedonian nation and language, saying it is a dialect of the Bulgarian language. These are things one cannot negotiate on because the Macedonian language is a linguistic fact for a long time now,” says Pendarovski.
He underlines the country’s firm position that if we do not join the EU as Macedonians speaking the Macedonian language, then we do not need that kind of EU.