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INTEGRATION Pendarovski: Treaty in no way calls into question Macedonian language or ethnic origins

Bulgaria’s demands, “besides being outside the realm of common sense,” go against European values and the 2017 Friendship Treaty makes no mention of any need whatsoever to negotiate the Macedonian people’s ethnic origins or “whether the language I speak is Macedonian,” President Stevo Pendarovski told Austrian ORF television channel.

The same Sofia politicians who signed the Treaty on Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation, saying it was a good agreement at the time, are now overstepping the parameters laid down by the agreement, President Pendarovski said.

“Nowhere in the 2017 agreement — not within a single letter in it, let alone an article or a paragraph or a preamble or any section whatsoever — does it say that we need to hold bilateral talks to debate the ethnic origins of us, Macedonians.

“There’s no single letter, section, article, anything that says we have to negotiate with the Bulgarian side about whether the language I’m speaking is Macedonian or not,” he highlighted.

According to Pendarovski, no country should be using its position as an EU member state to impose conditions and unilaterally assert a reading of history, demanding something that is not even a part of the treaty.

“You cannot blame us for not honoring the treaty while you’re tacking on demands that — besides being outside the realm of common sense and going against basic democratic values — are simply not contained in the agreement,” he said.

Pendarovski added that the timely work of the joint historical committee was in the interest of North Macedonia as well.

“However,” he added, “we cannot be talking about us not honoring provisions of the agreement if you are denying my right to ethnic and national self-determination. There is no such thing in the agreement.”

Pendarovski said it was legitimate that Bulgaria wanted to protect the rights of people declaring themselves as Bulgarians in North Macedonia. Yet, he added, Bulgaria denies this right to people living on the territory of Bulgaria who wanted to declare themselves as Macedonians.

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