Sofia blocking accession talks with North Macedonia

EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia are due to start in December, but Sofia looks set to continue blocking them on the grounds that before talks can go ahead the country must delete the term "Macedonian" from the list of its official languages. The language is a Bulgarian dialect, the North Macedonians are in fact Bulgarians and the nation has emerged due to historical falsification, Sofia claims. Can the conflict be resolved?

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Deutsche Welle (BG) /

Bulgaria hurting its own interests

The Bulgarian service of Deutsche Welle finds Bulgaria's blocking policy unacceptable:

“By blocking the EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia we are basically working against our own interests: we are slowing down the integration and connection of the region, which is necessary for our own prosperity; we are fuelling the anti-Bulgarian mood in Northern Macedonia and also landing ourselves in international isolation because of our incomprehensible position towards North Macedonia. Instead of conducting a principled foreign policy we are turning the romantic interpretations of our own history into a yardstick for our relations with the rest of the world.”

Sega (BG) /

No one wants to give in

Nationalist historiography has deeply engraved itself in the consciousness of the people of North Macedonia and Bulgaria, Sega observes:

“Hatred of Bulgarians dominates the public space in North Macedonia. And a recent survey showed that 80 percent of Bulgarians consider the claim that there was a Macedonian nation and language before the Yugoslav communist regime as a manipulation of facts. So the Bulgarians say: Admit that you used to be Bulgarian! And the North Macedonians respond: No, we have always been what we are now. And no one is willing to give in. These disputes would probably last forever and no one would care, if it weren't for the fact that a geopolitical dimension has now been added.”

Delo (SI) /

EU betraying its own ideals

In Delo's view the EU has failed:

“The heads of government at [last Tuesday's] Western Balkans summit did nothing to stop Bulgarian cultural imperialism. ... Brussels, Berlin and Paris - none of whom are ready to take a decisive stand against Bulgaria's blackmail - are sending the message to the Balkans that thinking European is not worthwhile. If you ride roughshod over the European project, which is based on the acceptance of diversity and neighbourly relations, then things do not look good for the region, and consequently for the EU.”