(DF) Delegation of Bulgarians from North Macedonia Confers with GERB Leader Borissov, MRF, BSP and TISP Representatives

October 28 (BTA) – A delegation of Bulgarians from the Republic of North Macedonia met here on Thursday in succession with GERB leader Boyko Borissov and representatives of the Movemenet for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), and the There Is Such a People (TISP) party. “I am convinced that the problem with the Bulgarian minority in the Republic of North Macedonia will be resolved naturally,” Borissov said during the meeting, held at his party’s headquarters and streamed on Facebook. “Our efforts should rather be focused on how to overcome the crisis in the relations between the two countries, because the democratic world is mocking yours and our diplomacy. Nothing is impossible, as long as there is a will from both sides,” Borissov said. He noted that North Macedonia’s and Albania’s EU membership is exceptionally important for Bulgaria, adding that the Bulgarians in North Macedonia can help build a bridge of friendship between the two countries. Peter Kolev from the Civil Democratic Union said that they see there is common national consensus, especially when it comes to starting EU membership negotiations. “This is an important sign for us – the largest political force to continue maintaining this line, because these matters affect our fate, the fate of our children,” Kolev said. “Our fate is in your hands and that’s a huge responsibility,” he added. According to Kolev, if the problems facing the Bulgarians in North Macedonia are not resolved, they will deepen further, create unbearable conditions which will contribute to the continuation of the process of debulgarization. “You have my full guarantee – they [politicians in North Macedonia] know that in order to get our support, they must include the [Bulgarian] minority in the Constitution [of North Macedonia],” said Borissov. MRF deputy leader Yordan Tsonev and MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk also had a working meeting with representatives of the Bulgarian community in North Macedonia, Kyuchyuk’s press office reported Thursday. “The MRF is an important partner for us, with whom we can cooperate. We are the part of society that wants the most the Republic of North Macedonia to become an EU member. The most important issue, however, pertains to equality and we expect support from Bulgaria, as well as clear measures on important matters related to culture, education and hate speech,” the participants in the meeting were quoted as saying. According to Kyuchyuk, the dialogue must be restored, because the lack of information is the biggest problem for both countries. “We know very little about each other, which is why it’s important to find the formula for effective dialogue,” the MEP said. Yordan Tsonev noted that a lasting solution to the problems in the Balkans would be for all countries to become members of the EU. Later on Thursday, the representatives of the Bulgarian community in North Macedonia conferred with BSP leaders. The Republic of North Macedonia’s EU membership cannot happen at the expense of the historical truth and Bulgarian national interest, the Socialists’ leader Kornelia Ninova said, quoted by her party’s press centre. “We also want the Republic of North Macedonia’s EU accession, but given implementation of the Treaty [of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation] is implemented; observation of what’s included in the declaration; putting an end to hate speech and the persecution of citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia who identify as Bulgarians; recognizing the historical truth about Bulgaria and our national interest,” Ninova said. She told the representatives of Bulgarians in North Macedonia that they can count on the BSP to back their previously stated positions, which are in favour of the Republic of North Macedonia’s EU membership, “but not at the expense of Bulgaria’s national interest and your rights”. The representatives of the Bulgarian community in North Macedonia conferred with leaders of the There Is Such a People (TISP) party, TISP said in a press release. TISP Deputy Chairman Toshko Yordanov and TISP International Secretary Dimiter Gurdev, who also chaired the foreign policy committee in the 46th National Assembly, conferred with the representatives of the organizations of Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia who spoke about their problems. Yordanov said that in TISP all Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia have “an unreserved partner” and that via TIPS’ Mps will have representation in the future Bulgarian Parliament. Yordanov and Gurdev also said, quoted in the press release, that TISP will work for “stopping the process of debulgarization” and will resolutely defend the interests of the Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia. President Rumen Radev also met with the representatives of Bulgarian organizations in North Macedonia on Wednesday and pledged support form the Bulgarian State for the Bulgarians in North Macedonia’s fight for equality. The delegation of the Bulgarian community in the Republic of North Macedonia included representatives of the Civic Democratic Union party, and of the associations Ivan Mihailov in Bitola, Tribuna in Prilep, the Association for Macedonian-Bulgarian Friendship in Skopje, Corridor VIII in Skopje, Interakcija [Interaction] in Ohrid, and Unity in Kocani. The Republic of North Macedonia stands to gain if the Bulgarian community is integrated in society, Peter Kolev of the Civil Democratic Union in the Republic of North Macedonia said, speaking at a news conference at BTA’s National Press Club. The news conference was held in connection with the visit to Sofia of the representatives of organizations of Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia. In Sofia the guests met with representatives of Bulgarian institutions and political parties. Kolev said that the society in the Republic of North Macedonia will draw “only positives from this, and will not lose anything”. “The society will be more united, stronger and more convincing. Then we will have much argumentation to work together with for the process of quick Europeanization of the Republic of North Macedonia which we desire from our hearts,” Kolev said. He voiced hope that the visit “marks the start of a new era of the bilateral relations, and in particular, a new era of relations between the Bulgarian community in the Republic of North Macedonia and official Bulgaria”. RY/MY, ZH //