Bulgaria called the claim by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Bulgaria and Albania were trying to split Macedonia “highly irresponsible”, as part of a scenario that would prevent the small landlocked country from taking part in the Gazprom-favoured Turkish Stream project.
On Wednesday (20 April), Lavrov blamed the political crisis in Macedonia on ‘outside’ forces trying to exert influence on Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski over his refusal to back Western sanctions against Moscow.
“The events in Macedonia are fairly brutally managed from outside,” Lavrov said in the Council of the Federation, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, according to TASS.
“Attempts have been made to accuse Gruevski’s government of failing to deliver on its pledges to the population. However, behind this lies a desire to exert influence on him in connection with his refusal to back sanctions against Russia, support for the South Stream [gas pipeline project] and willingness to cooperate in other options for gas supply, including the so-called Turkish Stream”, Lavrov said.
“Now, there is talk that Macedonia needs to be federalized even deeper, and ideas have even been floated as to why not dismember it and give part of it to Albania and another part to Bulgaria,” Lavrov said.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov responded the same day, calling Lavrov’s statements “highly irresponsible”.
“Attempts to call into question European policy in the region and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia are unacceptable,” Mitov said.
“The stability of all countries of South Eastern Europe is of paramount importance to us and attempts by countries outside the region to undermine it through such suggestions should stop,” he added.
Bulgaria would continue to be the guarantor of the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia, and there should be no doubt about this, Mitov remarked.