Macedonia Looks to Warm Up Ties with Bulgaria

Politics » DIPLOMACY | August 24, 2011, Wednesday // 17:24

New Macedonian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Poposki is expected in Sofia September 1 on a visit that it is hoped will warm up tense relation between the two neighbors.

The first international visits of Minister Poposki will be in the Balkan countries of Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro.

Wednesday Macedonian Paper Utrinski Vesnik writes that the string of visits might boost Maceodnian relations with fellow Slavic countries in the region, particularly Bulgaria.

Utrinski Vesnik recalls that both Poposki and Bulgarian counterpart Nikolay Mladenov have as background work in the EU and can feel comfortable on that shared ground.

It also contrast Posoki with predecessor Antonio Milososki, whose stance to Bulgaria was not that friendly.

In 2010, it was revealed that in 2008, Bulgarian then-PM Sergey Stanishev had handed to his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski a so-called "Friendship Treaty", to which Maceodnia has not yet replied.

Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Mladenov has also taken up the initiative early in his term of office in May 2010, viewing it as a tool to boosting the lagging relations between the two neighbors.

Political and media sources in Macedonia have nevertheless viewed the Friendship Treaty with a high level of suspicion, seeing as a tool for unwholesome Bulgarian influence.

The past couple of years have done nothing to ease largely cultural and historical tensions between the two countries, such as the language dispute and the dispute around various historical figures and events.

Bulgarians traditionally see Macedonian as a dialect of the Bulgarian language, while Macedonians claim some medieval Bulgarian emperors - such as Samuil - for their own rulers.

The thousands of Macedonians applying - and getting - Bulgarian citizenship have also added to mistrust on the part of their government's side.

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Tags: Nikola Gruevski, Nikola Poposki, macedonia, friendship treaty, Sergey Stanishev, Nikolay Mladenov, language, samuil
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