Bulgaria could block North Macedonia’s EU path over ‘common’ history interpretation

Bulgaria is likely to veto the start of Skopje’s accession talks with the EU due to a lack of progress in the work of a bilateral committee made up of historians, who are in charge of determining the common history of the two countries.

“If the mixed history commission does not resume work by June and the authorities in Skopje continue to falsify history, Bulgaria will not agree to start pre-accession talks with North Macedonia,” MEP and leader of Prime Minister Boyko Borrissov’s GERB party (EPP-affiliated) in the European Parliament, Andrey Kovatchev, told EURACTIV Bulgaria in an exclusive interview on Monday (4 May). He said he was speaking in a personal capacity.

The European Commission is due to start membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Tirana in June, Kovachev said.

An intergovernmental conference should then take place, where the EU member states should vote by unanimity. While no date has been set for the conference, it may take place during Germany’s EU presidency in July.

A committee tasked with deciding the common history between the two countries was created under the Neighbourhood Treaty between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, which preceded the landmark Prespa name-change agreement. 

While Skopje has claimed that the committee’s work is being delayed because of the postponed legislative election due to the coronavirus crisis, the committee has not worked since December last year. Even before elections were postponed, the bilateral committee was not very successful.

Historians had agreed on medieval history but discussions regarding the liberation struggle against the Ottoman empire dragged on as the committee appears particularly stuck with regards to Gotse Delchev‘s personality (1872-1903).

Gotse Delchev is a Bulgarian revolutionary who fought for the independence of Macedonia, still under the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. In communist Yugoslavia – of which North Macedonia was a part – history books called Delchev a Macedonian.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)


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