Marin Raikov: Macedonian politicians show immaturity in relations with Bulgaria

"Politicians in North Macedonia show a certain immaturity with their refusal to adhere to the concluded international agreements. Bulgaria is not the reason why Skopje cannot start negotiations, but rather the reluctance to implement the 2017 Treaty. For the Western Balkans, there is no other alternative than EU membership."
This was stated in an interview with BGNES by Marin Raikov, Ambassador of Bulgaria to Great Britain and former Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Bulgaria.
When asked by BGNES why we are witnessing heightened anti-Bulgarian rhetoric from Macedonian politicians and why the new president of the Republic of Macedonia Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova caused a diplomatic scandal by violating the Prespa Agreement with Greece, Raikov answered:
"Obviously, this is a certain immaturity. In the period of elections, it is easy to make promises, including exotic ones. In the specific case, whatever the promises were, whatever the so-called verbal reinforcements were, what needs to be done in order to ensure the North Macedonia's path to the EU in some, albeit distant, future is obvious. Above all, Skopje must adhere to the agreements it has signed. This was made very clear by the Commission and is the position of 27 countries. In front of the eyes of the European public, we have seen how in this pre-election period, anti-Bulgarian, anti-Greek and, essentially, anti-European rhetoric is being used.
"If there is an element of blocking the process that will lead to the start of negotiations, it is, above all, self-blocking on the part of Skopje. Bulgaria is not the reason why Skopje cannot start negotiations, but rather the reluctance to implement the Treaty of 2017 (on friendship, good-neighborliness and cooperation), the reluctance to proceed operatively and quickly to change the Constitution, so for the Bulgarian people in the North Macedonia to receive constitutional guarantees for their rights. We saw that there is a need for such constitutional guarantees - this need is glaring and visible, especially after all the encroachments that were committed against the companies, the individual members of the Bulgarian community in the North Macedonia," explained the diplomat.
Marin Raikov remains an optimist, despite everything.
"There is no alternative, neither in the fulfillment of the EU's expectations, nor in the fulfillment of what, in the eyes of the Bulgarian public and all the neighbors, can turn the North Macedonia into a really good partner on its way to the EU. I believe that the future will bring to them, and to the region, a radical change in the way of speaking and the way of thinking. It is not possible that everything inherited from the Yugoslav period can be preserved and legitimized within the European process. This is impossible, and it is naive to launch such a political program with the pretense that it will be accepted by our European partners," said Raikov.
Asked what are the consequences of Belgrade's geopolitical project "Serbian World" and the Serbian intervention in Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, the Bulgarian diplomat pointed out that European integration is a conditional process, because each society is expected to follow a certain path. to cover certain conditions.
"It is my deep conviction that the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans has no alternative. Whether this will happen quickly or more slowly is a question that depends entirely on the capacity for reform in each of these countries. These are our neighboring countries with which we have an interest in maintaining perfect relations. From this point of view, we cannot help but support their European integration, and we support it without any doubt," stressed Raikov.
"Leaving behind a state ideology inherited from the totalitarian past is a first step. I believe that both the Serbs and the North Macedonia people, with whom we have a common history and origin, will be able to walk this path," he said in conclusion. /BGNES