After blocking its' EU accession, Bulgaria said it will focus on improving relations with Macedonia.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 06/02/13
Macedonian and Bulgarian prime ministers seek to have an open dialogue. [AFP]
In an effort to mend fences months after Bulgaria blocked Macedonia's EU entrance, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov invited his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski to Sofia.
Borisov said that Skopje can count on Bulgarian support on its road to EU and NATO, and expressed interest in discussing economic topics, such as the construction of the Sofia-Skopje-Tirana highway.
So far, however, there has been no response from Skopje to Borisov's invitation.
The relationship between the two countries further soured after the premiere of the Macedonian movie and Oscar award nominee "Third Half," which illustrates Bulgaria's participation in the Holocaust.
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said that one of the key priorities this year will be good neighbourly relations with Macedonia.
Macedonian and Bulgarian foreign ministry working groups continue meeting over the draft of the new friendship treaty, the good-neighbourly relations and co-operation agreements between the two countries, written by Bulgaria.
Macedonian analysts said, however, that the call from Borisov and the new treaty draft is not a sincere intention to overcome misunderstandings between the two Balkan countries.
"Bulgaria continues the same policy of denial towards Macedonia," Risto Nikovski, former Macedonian ambassador, told SETimes.
As part of the upcoming May parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, a number of statements about Macedonian-Bulgarian relations are being expressed.
"In this campaign, one can hear that Bulgarian national interests are threatened, and that the country will try to oppose Macedonia's EU and NATO direction. By contrast, Macedonia hopes that a dominant public opinion will condemn [Bulgarian] politicians who demonstrate aggressive and unfair stance towards Macedonia," Georgi Spasov, former Macedonian ambassador in Sofia, told SETimes.
Georgi Parvanov and Zhelyu Zhelev, former Bulgarian presidents, recently appealed to Sofia authorities, and said that blocking of Macedonia is a mistake, irresponsible, and not in the interest of Bulgaria.
"We are blocking Macedonians, people with whom we share the same origin. It should be the other way around, we should be their biggest supporter," Parvanov said.
"Macedonia and Bulgaria have long-term interest to stabilise their relations, and that should not be conditioned with deadlines or delays," Spasov said.