“A lot of butterness: Prime Minister of North Macedonia regrets the blockade of Bulgaria in the EU,” is the headline of an article published Saturday by Agence France-Presse (AFP) following an interview with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in Skopje.
Zoran Zaev said that the Bulgarian veto of Macedonia’s EU accession talks caused “lot of bitterness among us” and called the Bulgarian move an “unpleasant surprise”. Zaev dismissed Bulgarian demands that Macedonia acknowledges that the Macedonian nation, language and history have “Bulgarian roots”.
“Sofia argues that the Macedonian identity is an artificial construct, essentially claiming the people and the language are historically Bulgarian. Much of the disagreement stems from the fact that this region was for centuries under Ottoman rule, with nation states emerging and often changing borders through the wars of the 20th century.”
Bulgaria accused North Macedonia of stealing its history and is especially irked over the lack of progress from a joint commission that has been trying to agree on a common narrative for textbooks. Zaev said he believed such matters should be primarily work “for historians”, but that it was important to also highlight the agreements the commission has come to in some areas.