Relations between Bulgaria and North Macedonia Worsened after Yesterday, 3 Bulgarians are Arrested
Dozens of Bulgarians did not manage to arrive in Skopje to attend Gotse Delchev's grave
Dozens of Bulgarian citizens were unable to arrive in Skopje to attend Gotse Delchev's grave. The reason, according to officials from North Macedonia, was a breakdown of the border control system due to an electric shock, Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev told journalists. The celebration of 151 years since the birth of Gotse Delchev in our southwestern neighbor was accompanied by tension and disappointment.
At a press conference before noon, the Minister of Internal Affairs stated that the group from Bulgaria, which will visit the Church of Saint Spas, where the grave of Gotse Delchev is located, is expected to be between 100 and 150 people.
At 2:30 p.m. Bulgarian time, ministers Ivan Demerdzhiev and Asen Medzhidiev, our ambassador in Skopje Angel Angelov and five or six other representatives of Bulgarian institutions arrived on the spot.
Macedonian and Bulgarian statesmen presented wreaths and flowers to the national hero separately, at different times:
"We were given a slot at 1:30 p.m., we respected it, we came, we did everything necessary in the way it was allowed," said Minister Demerdzhiev.
The interior minister of Bulgaria believes that the draconian security measures in Skopje did not guarantee what hundreds of Bulgarians wanted and expected:
"I don't think that such security measures are necessary, because the relations between our two peoples do not imply such draconian measures as we are witnessing. In fact, security means that all those who want to come can peacefully honor Gotse Delchev’s memory. There are data, unfortunately, that a number of Bulgarian citizens were prevented from entering the country," Demerdzhiev pointed out.
People stood for hours at the border checkpoints, there was also serious tension, the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister added:
"I received an explanation from the minister that there was a breakdown, an electric shock at the checkpoints. In order to avoid such problems in the future, I immediately ordered and prepared three generators, which will be donated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. They will be donated for these three checkpoints so that there would be no similar problems in the future, but unfortunately the problem was only in one direction. This gave a very unpleasant impression that the problem was only when entering the Republic of North Macedonia. Such behavior is unacceptable."
After their visit to Skopje, Ministers Demerdzhiev and Medjidiev traveled to Blagoevgrad to worship in front of the ossuary memorial of the Delchev family in the city's central church.
Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Relations on the celebrations of Gotse Delchev: The attitude of North Macedonia is humiliating and unacceptable
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria defined as humiliating and unacceptable towards the Bulgarian people and the Republic of Bulgaria the current attitude of the rulers in North Macedonia during the celebrations on the occasion of the 151st anniversary of the birth of Gotse Delchev. This was announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria in an official position on its website.
"In the period after 1991, the Republic of Bulgaria consistently demonstrated a sincere desire to develop good-neighborly relations with the Republic of North Macedonia. After the signing of the Treaty of friendship, good-neighbourliness and cooperation in 2017, a practice was established to jointly commemorate historical figures from our common history , which Georgi (Gotse) Nikolov Delchev is without a doubt", the ministry states.
"Unfortunately, the celebration of the 151st anniversary of his birth did not contribute to the upgrading of bilateral relations between Sofia and Skopje. It is with deep regret that we note that February 4, 2023 will go down in history as the date when the authorities in North Macedonia, for extremely unconvincing reasons and in violation of previously given assurances, they did not allow Bulgarian citizens to pay tribute to Delchev's case and life. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs defines today's attitude of the rulers in North Macedonia as humiliating and unacceptable towards the Bulgarian people and the Republic Bulgaria", says the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ministry states that they consider such actions as a failure to fulfill the commitment to provide unhindered access to all well-intentioned citizens wishing to pay respect to the memory of the great revolutionary. "This, along with the reluctance to lay wreaths by the delegations of Bulgaria and North Macedonia, represents a departure from established good practices and erodes the efforts of the Republic of Bulgaria aimed at strengthening good neighborliness," the MFA stated.
"Today, the actions of the authorities in North Macedonia caused serious damage to the process of restoring trust, despite the efforts of Prime Minister Galab Donev, who in a difficult situation initiated a process of de-escalation, and of the Deputy Prime Minister for Public Order and Security and Minister of the Interior works Ivan Demerdzhiev, who visited Skopje precisely for this purpose on January 30 of this year, as well as his today's visit," the ministry also believes.
The announcement also specifies that the information available to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that at the border crossing points on the Macedonian side, Bulgarian citizens were not allowed into the territory of North Macedonia for hours due to arguments of a technical nature. "Subsequently, some of the Bulgarian citizens received official refusals to enter the territory of our neighboring country, and others returned due to the long hours of waiting. Among those affected by these restrictive measures are journalists, against whom the reason of ‘threa’ was used for public order, national security, public health or for the international relations of the Republic of North Macedonia," the position also reads.
"There is information about violence by the border authorities of North Macedonia. At the same time, an extremely surprising but unsuccessful attempt was made in Skopje to limit the number of the Bulgarian official delegation during its pilgrimage to the Church of St. Spas," they also say from the MFA.
From the announcement it becomes clear that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Milkov had a conversation with the ambassador of North Macedonia in Sofia Agneza Rusi with a request for intervention and restoration of freedom of movement. "The same issue was repeatedly raised in Skopje by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs Ivan Demerdzhiev. Once again, we found that the statements and assurances we received from representatives of the authorities in North Macedonia did not correspond to the situation on the ground. This approach in no way contributes to the conduct of a constructive and benevolent dialogue," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.
In connection with the publications in the media about detained Bulgarian citizens, the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Skopje has officially approached the local authorities with a request for additional information, although such information should have been sent immediately by the authorities in North Macedonia. They are expected to be tried according to a quick procedure, the department also informs.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeals to the affected Bulgarian citizens, who have received a written refusal to enter the territory of North Macedonia, to provide this information to the Ministry in order to take the necessary actions through diplomatic channels and to inform our international partners, the position says.
"We remind you that the free movement of people is one of the main principles of the functioning of the EU. Moreover, this is a concrete measure to strengthen good-neighborly relations. If necessary, Bulgaria is ready to provide technical assistance to ensure the smooth functioning of the border crossing," they point out from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"For the establishment of good neighborly relations, at least two sincere partners are needed. It is increasingly difficult to recognize in the behavior of the authorities in Skopje a real desire to build the trust, friendship and cooperation necessary for this," the ministry also commented.
The Bulgarians detained in the Republic of North Macedonia were fined and banned from entering the country
The three Bulgarian citizens, who were detained at the "Deve Bair" border crossing on the border with North Macedonia, have been expelled from the country and are banned from entering for a period of 3 years, Macedonian media reports. The court in Kriva Palanka ordered all three to pay a 300 euro fine for disturbing public order and peace.
The media reports that among those detained is Angel Georgiev - an MP from "Vazrazhdane" in the 47th and 48th Parliament.
Earlier, the leader of the party Kostadin Kostadinov announced his detention. Kostadinov stated that he expects a reaction from the Bulgarian institutions and the European Parliament.
Dozens of Bulgarians were stopped at the border of our south-western neighbor and were unable to participate in the worship at the Church of the Holy Savior in Skopje. Some of them, including journalists, received official refusals to cross the border on the grounds of "threat to public order, national security, public health or the international relations of the Republic of North Macedonia".
In a position on the case from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is emphasized that yesterday's celebration of the 151st anniversary of the birth of Gotse Delchev does not contribute to upgrading the bilateral relations between Sofia and Skopje.
“February 4, 2023 will go down in history as the date on which the authorities in North Macedonia, for extremely unconvincing reasons and in violation of previously given assurances, did not allow the paying of respect to the memory of the revolutionary by Bulgarian citizens,” the position states.
At the same time, it was reported that the window of the Macedonian cultural club on "Dimitar Dimov" street in Blagoevgrad was broken last night. The report was made to the police after 21:00. They are not giving any more information from there for now. It was opened on October 30 last year without much provocation. Only one of the letters of the inscription was peeled off.
The three Bulgarians detained at the Macedonian checkpoint "Deve Bair" returned home at night via Gueshevo
The three Bulgarians who were detained yesterday at the Macedonian border crossing "Deve Bair", who were traveling to Skopje for the pilgrimage to the grave of Gotse Delchev, returned home tonight through the border crossing "Gyueshevo", officials from the night shift at the checkpoint told BNR.
They crossed the border at 1:00 a.m. The three were fined 300 euros each and banned for a certain period from visiting North Macedonia, commented our customs officials.
They were detained for "bad behavior", and physical assault on employees of the Macedonian checkpoint. It is unofficially commented that all three are members of the "Vazrazhdane" party.
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