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(DF) Deputy PM Karakachanov: Bulgaria Is Observing Friendship Treaty with North Macedonia, Skopje Is Not

November 7 (BTA) – Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov Saturday told reporters that it is not Bulgaria but North Macedonia who is not observing the bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation. He was responding to Friday’s statement by North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev that Bulgaria is violating Article 2 of the Treaty. Karakachanov was approached by journalists after his participation together with President Rumen Radev and the Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, in a military ritual to honour the memory of fallen Bulgarian soldiers at Sofia Central Cemetery’s Military Mausoleum-Ossuary. Karakachanov said that Art. 2 of the Treaty of Friendship requires Bulgaria to support North Macedonia in meeting the EU membership criteria. “We are trying to support them in meeting the criteria, one of which is to solve the bilateral issues with neighbouring countries, but they obviously lack will,” he said. In his words, Skopje underestimated the situation and relied on Bulgaria to make concessions in the name of good bilateral relations. “This time, however, there are no concessions left to make and no need to make concessions, because the practice shows that Skopje does not share Bulgaria good intentions,” he argued. According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Bulgaria’s position on the EU accession of North Macedonia has been very clear since the signing of the Treaty of Friendship back in 2017. This position has been confirmed in the Government’s framework position, which has been approved unanimously by the Bulgarian National Assembly and, consequently, the Government cannot possibly deviate from this Parliament-affirmed position, he noted. Asked whether there is a change North Macedonia will react by November 17, Karakachanov expressed gratitude to Germany for postponing from November 10 to 17 the EU Ministerial Meeting on the EU negotiating framework for North Macedonia, thus giving Skopje one more opportunity. In his words, the trip from Skopje to Sofia takes two hours. “We make an annex to the Treaty [of Friendship], we set specific deadlines as an implementation condition, we expect a declaration in writing as a decision that they [North Macedonia] do not and will not have either territorial or minority claims, that they accept the correct thesis that until 1944, the history, language and culture of the population in the geographical region of Macedonia was part of Bulgaria’s culture and history. From there onwards, things are very clear and are solved quickly,” Karakachanov said. RI/DS /ДЛ/