What happened at the Meeting between the Leaders of Bulgaria and North Macedonia
Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia have agreed to use the country's short name - North Macedonia. This became possible after Skopje sent a note to the UN stating that the name refers to political unification, but not to the geographical region, part of which is part of Bulgaria's territory. This became clear after the meeting of the prime ministers of the two countries Kiril Petkov and Dimitar Kovachevski in Skopje.
Kovachevski thus pointed out that his country has no territorial claims to Bulgaria.
Good neighborliness from now on will be measured in real steps, said Kiril Petkov.
I can clearly say that the Sofia-Skopje air-line will be a reality and within 30 days we will have the exact specifics, explained Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
Within 60 days, the Skopje-Sofia flight - suspended after 2 years of unsuccessful operation 2007-2009 due to lack of passengers - will be a fact, the two prime ministers announced.
The working groups that have already been announced and have been agreed on: on business, education, infrastructure connectivity, and European integration issues.
The next meeting will be on January 25, and every week the working groups will meet with clear goals, with clear results, and not just political statements, added Kiril Petkov.
The two prime ministers reiterated their understanding that the historic commission would work better in a new context when the other working groups announced concrete results of their work to the public on a weekly basis. They demonstrated friendly relations by embracing each other at the beginning of the welcoming ceremony.
Kiril Petkov answered clearly that identity and language in the Republic of North Macedonia are issues resolved with the Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness in 2017. Neither he nor Kovachevski answered clearly whether there will be changes in the Historical Commission.
The focus on the joint work and the exact calendar are the main takeaway of the meeting and from now on the relations will be measured in this way, the Bulgarian Prime Minister explained.
I can assure you that I am very optimistic about our joint action and you will see results on a weekly basis, Petkov added.
According to him, the weekly meetings of all commissions will provide an opportunity to work, the two sides will be in constant communication.
In our 2017 Agreement, we have a very clear definition of language. Bulgaria respects it and we are really very proud that we were the first country to recognize North Macedonia and we have full respect for the self-determination of your citizens, said Petkov.
What we achieved in this first meeting shows the different definitions that we have decided upon - for what good neighborliness should be from now on, added the Prime Minister.
The focus from now on is why it is so important for the two countries to have good neighborly relations, and not to focus on the problems, Petkov said.
Creating conditions for rapid progress in European integration is one of the most important priorities of the new RNM prime minister, Kovachevski said.
Bulgaria was the first to recognize us 30 years ago, in extremely difficult political conditions. 30 years later, we are opening a new stage in our relations, said the Prime Minister of RNM.
The two prime ministers also outlined the main priorities for the two countries with a horizon of the period 2022-2029.
Working groups will be formed on specific projects related to trade, transport, infrastructure, and transport links. They will work together and I expect the initiatives to be implemented soon, Kovachevski added.
“This is the first big step,” Kovachevski added.
He thanked Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and the Bulgarian delegation for being the first official guests since the election of the new RNM government.
The visit was described as an attempt to restore dialogue between the two countries after Bulgaria refused for two years to support Skopje's negotiating framework due to systematic non-compliance with the 2017 Friendship Agreement.
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