Bulgaria is pushing for an end to “discrimination” against the Bulgarian minority in North Macedonia, with Bulgarian Rumen Radev discussing the topic with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Belen on Monday in Vienna.
Until now, Sofia has insisted on achieving a unified position on the common history, the origin of the Macedonian language and the provision of guarantees against future territorial claims of North Macedonia against Bulgaria.
President Radev announced that the country expects clear political will from Skopje to implement the Neighbourhood Agreement signed in 2017.
“Although Skopje claims to meet the EU accession criteria, we are still witnessing a systematic violation of the rights of citizens of North Macedonia of Bulgarian origin and their discrimination, there is still hate speech against Bulgaria in textbooks and in the public sphere,” Radev said.
“The progress and the solution of these issues depends exclusively on the policies of North Macedonia, with which Bulgaria has repeatedly expressed its readiness to conduct a constructive and open dialogue,” he added.
North Macedonia is ready to include Bulgarians in its constitution on an equal footing with other nations, but that could only happen shortly before the country joins the European Union, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Monday.
Albania acknowledged the existence of a Bulgarian minority three years ago. North Macedonia has not done so, although nearly 100,000 Macedonians have declared their Bulgarian origin and obtained Bulgarian passports.
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)