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SOCIETY Zaev: Our statehood rests on anti-fascism, giving fascism ethnic traits is unacceptable

Our statehood rests on the anti-fascism actions. Our freedom is a result of anti-fascism. The Macedonian people achieved its sovereignty through the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) and realized its eternal ideal of own state through the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM). ASNOM is a historic affirmation of our Macedonian language and our Macedonian identity. But it is unacceptable to give fascism ethnic traits, be it in Bulgarian or any other context. The dark pages of Balkan and European history should not hinder the development of goodneighborly relations in the Balkans and Europe, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Thursday.

PM Zaev was speaking to reporters following the public outcry over his interview with Bulgarian news agency BGNES, expressing regret it caused strong negative emotions which he fully understands.

“At the same time, I am bound by the citizens to find solutions for issues that have been opened with the Republic of Bulgaria and have become an obstacle for the endorsement of the EU negotiating framework. Both nations, Macedonians and Bulgarians, should face these historical issues, so that we develop and sustain the capacity of understanding and forgiveness. European nations have agreed not to forget but to forgive. For the sake of the future. For the sake of the common future in the European Union, which is a model of leaving the deepest differences and historical conflicts behind in the name of future. This is my intention and I will promote it as long as there is the slightest chance for solutions and success in our EU accession process and the start of the negotiations,” said PM Zaev.

He noted that although there had been certain improvement of relations between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria after the contribution of the Bulgarian army in the fight against the fascists, it is a fact there was “an iron curtain” after 1948 and serious historic-political conflicts around “the Macedonian issue”.

“Today we should work on removing the consequences of the ‘iron curtain’ that are still felt between North Macedonia and Bulgaria. History should teach us that we can do things differently, that we can do better, that we have to cooperate but also respect our differences,” said Zaev.

According to him, goodneighborly relations and a common future can be built only through respect of differences and joint fight against hate speech and intolerance in the Macedonian and Bulgarian societies.

“We cannot build a common future if we fail to recognize the shortcomings of history. We need a history that builds a bridge of friendship between nations, we are fed up with histories that create divisions and stimulate intolerance. Let’s live in the present. It’s time to make history that creates future for young people and next generations,” underlined Zaev.

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