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(DF) Deputy PM Karakachanov Urges Skopje Politicians Not to Rely on External Pressure on Bulgaria in Resolving Controversies

October 16 (BTA) – Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the nationalist VMRO party, Krassimir Karakachanov, said here Friday that politicians in Skopje should not rely on external pressure on Bulgaria for resolving the controverial issues in bilateral relations. “Observe the [Good Neighbourliness] Treaty, be honest and act with integrity is the way to go for them – or else I don’t see what good they can expect from Bulgaria,” Karakachanov told reporters. He was commenting the work of a joint multidisciplinary commission which is meeting October 15 and 16 in Skopje after a break of several months and which is expected to resolve differences which the two countries have on matters of history. These differences have soured relations between the two nations of late as North Macedonia hopes to see a major step being made in its EU aspirations and Bulgaria has warned that these aspirations might suffer as a result of the lack of progress in addressing the issues. While the Bulgarian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have taken a softer line in dealing with North Macedonia, Karakachanov has made a number of strongly worded statements and he recently threatened that Bulgaria would block North Macedonia’s first intergovernmental conference with the EU. He pointed out on Friday that the Macedonian side of the joint commission has replaced one of its members and “and if you read what he wrote in the North Macedonian news media until several days ago, you will be terrified”. He called it “a bad sign”, “showing that they do not intend to engage in open dialogue and continuing to rely that somebody, Germany, the US, the administration in Brussels, somebody else, will pressure Bulgaria into bowing down”. “These are the messages I see. I hope I am proven wrong. Let us see how the joint commission end their work today,” the Deputy Prime Minister said adding that he “does not expect miracles from Skopje”. He said that a proof of his fears is reports he has been getting that a monument in North Macedonia to Colonel Boris Sarafov, a Bulgarian officer who organized the Ilinden Uprising in Macedonia, has been dismantled and taken to be cut and scrapped. President Rumen Radev was also asked by the press what message he has for the joint commission. He said that the Bulgarian members of the commission are professionals in their field and dedicated to Bulgaria, and will continue to stand up for the historical truth and the Bulgarian national interests, and that his message is to the politicians who make the decisions. He added that the responsibility rests most of all with the country which seeks EU membership. Radev also said that there is always room for compromise “but there can be no compromise with history, identity, language and national minority claims because it will have lasting consequences for the EU where we want to see solidarity, cohesion and unity”. LN/RY //