President Radev: The Veto on North Macedonia should Remain until the Bulgarians are Included in the Constitution
"I cannot compromise with the rights of Macedonian Bulgarians. They must be in the Constitution." This was stated by Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in his half-hour speech at the opening of a conference on "European perspective for good neighborly relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia".
The forum is organized by the Institute for Historical Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Macedonian Scientific Institute and under the patronage of the head of state. The conference is in memory of Gotse Delchev, whose death today marks 119 years.
According to Radev, he does not agree with the formula reached by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and EC President Ursula von der Leyen - the change in the Constitution to be guaranteed by the EU, to be introduced together with the package of measures of the neighborly agreement between the two countries in the negotiating chapters. This will not only unblock the accession of North Macedonia to the EU, but will also protect Bulgaria's position.
“I am convinced that the European future of the Republic of North Macedonia has no alternative”, said Rumen Radev at the beginning of his speech and added that he was convinced of the desire of the people on both sides for full communication. He recalled that Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of the young Macedonian state in 1992.
"We have unconditionally supported North Macedonia's membership in NATO, provided guarantees for its security." If we want our relations to develop strategically, we must be honest in our dialogue," Radev said. He added that an anti-Bulgarian campaign involving state institutions, media and political parties is still raging in Skopje.
"Cohesion processes have been blocked, Corridor 8 has remained in the sphere of declarations. The 2017 Good Neighborly Relations Agreement is not being implemented, the work of the Committee on Historical and Educational Processes has been blocked," the president said. He said Skopje was using all means of lobbying to its advantage, and last year's "scandalous census" highlighted the problems of our compatriots.
"The war in Ukraine is being used as an argument for urgent and immediate integration at the cost of tough compromises," Radev said. According to him, we are facing historic elections and "this is an issue that affects the foundations of our national identity - our dignity, as a people, sustainability and the future of the EU, even if this is not assessed by our partners."
According to Radev, we are currently facing a "dilemma of how to do it, so that we can agree as soon as possible to start integration talks, while setting a clear barrier to militant Macedonianism and protecting our history and identity."
"What guarantees do we have to reach a European format? What are the factors, the driving forces, what is their genesis?" The president asked. Then he answered:
“I cannot compromise with the rights of Macedonian Bulgarians. They must be in the constitution.”
Radev explained that this is important so that Bulgarians in North Macedonia can "integrate into our neighbor's economic life". He described the inclusion of "Bulgarians" among the "people's nationalities" in the constitution as a "barrier to ending the process of de-Bulgarianization".
"I can't accept the multi-perspective approach to our history, I can't agree with the theft of our history," Radev said, adding that ending hate speech is extremely important. "This starts with changing the history and geography textbooks. I cannot accept that the young generation is being brought up in a language of hatred towards Bulgaria. There is no way we can move forward unless the archives of the UDBA (Yugoslav Secret Service) are declassified so that it becomes clear about the thousands killed just because they are called Bulgarians. As all Eastern European countries have experienced their catharsis, Macedonia cannot but break with its totalitarian past and steadily embark on its path to democracy.”
According to Rumen Radev, the EU is not aware of the potential of Macedonianism for destabilization.
"We need to integrate partners, not problems. With these things, as President of the Republic of Bulgaria, I cannot compromise," Radev said. The big question is when Bulgaria will agree to start negotiations, said the head of state and added once again:
I have always said that this should be after the Constitution is changed.
He explained that the veto should not be lifted before that, because we have had a good neighborly agreement for 5 years, "but what happened, has anything changed?" According to Rumen Radev, there is no guarantee that something will change. How will the EU guarantee, he asked, adding that Skopje shows a lack of willingness to respect human rights, which is enshrined in the Copenhagen criteria for EU accession.
Once again, Radev said it was "for" opening the door to negotiations when we see clear guarantees for an irreversible process. He added that the EU misunderstood our position and paradoxically "all methods of lobbying and pressure on Bulgaria are being used through our allies and European institutions to lift the veto for the start of North Macedonia's EU membership talks".
Radev did not fail to "sting" the 42 intellectuals and public figures from Bulgaria and North Macedonia, who announced yesterday the fall of the veto and announced the creation of a network of friendship clubs, which aims to "create an active civil society to works for the rapprochement of the two countries on the basis of European values ":
"It is amazing how Bulgarian intellectuals, who swear by European values from morning till night, are actually ready to overrun European values, and the Copenhagen criteria and say - forward immediately, we raise everything unconditionally. The same intellectuals who have no doubt that they are fierce anti-communists but legitimize the ideas of the Communist International. I think that Bulgaria has many, many other intellectuals and I thank you for being here."
"It is wonderful that the energetic new prime ministers of both countries have taken a new path. I want to see a calendar schedule for resolving open political issues, because if we do not resolve them, all this and the efforts of both governments will go into the background. It is important to clarify the problems and our position. I can say that Bulgaria is not acting from a position of strength, but of truth and responsibility to the EU. This is the strength of our position and it must be defended in all formats", insisted the head of state
He drew attention to draft US Resolution 741, which, if adopted, will be declared September a month of Macedonian language, culture and history in contributing to the country's development. “This thing is being done under the noses of diplomats”, he stressed. Radev insisted that only the organizations responded and thanked our Consul General in Chicago for his address to the Illinois Congress because it showed how we stand for our policy.
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