Nikola Poposki from VMRO-DPMNE said that if the friendship treaty with Bulgaria is to receive support from the largest party in Parliament, it will have to implement core VMRO-DPMNE objections that will protect Macedonian national interests.
“This treaty fully satisfies Bulgarian national interests, and we should have no ill feelings about it. The Bulgarian Government legitimately fights for its national interests. It is now necessary for the Macedonian side to ensure that the Macedonian nation and the Macedonian language are clearly mentioned and defined in the treaty. This would allow us to feel more comfortable with the agreement”, Poposki said. The treaty does not mention the two nations, and only speaks about citizens from both countries, given widespread Bulgarian insistence that Macedonians are in fact ethnic Bulgarians. It mentions the Macedonian language, qualifying it – “as defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia”. Poposki said that the Macedonian language was codified long before Macedonia declared its independence and adopted the Constitution and therefore this article of the treaty undermines the importance of the Macedonian language.
Poposki said that the VMRO-DPMNE proposals will help all Macedonians accept the treaty, adding that it is important it receives the widest possible level of popular support. “Depending on whether there will be movement on these issues, we will conclude whether to support or not the proposal”, Poposki said, calling on the Macedonian Government to fulfill its duty and ensure a fair treaty for both countries, and not a document that would further frustrate Macedonia’s path toward the European Union.
The two Prime Ministers, Zoran ZAev and Boyko Borisov, said that they will sign the treaty as is on August 1st, a day ahead of the main national holiday of Ilinden. Bulgaria insists that there is no room for further amendments to the treaty, and Zaev said that he will sign the text, and called on the Parliament to oppose it if its members disagree with the treaty. Bulgaria said it will not support Macedonian NATO and EU membership until a friendship treaty is signed.
Poposki, who until recently served as Foreign Minister, said that the treaty adds some new elements on the 1999 declaration between the two countries, in that it introduces the category of “shared history” and calls for the creation of a committee of historians who will examine it.
“This is a Bulgarian interest, to have this category in the treaty. It is also in the interest of Bulgaria to insist on the clause that Macedonia will not interfere in Bulgarian internal affairs, even though it is something that we have pledged to in the past and our Constitution shows no basis for any country – especially a NATO and EU member country – to feel threatened. Macedonia itself aspires to be a part of that family”, Poposki said.