Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian embassy’s charge d’affaires, wanting an explanation for Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks implying that the partition of Macedonia was being sought with a view to giving parts of that country to Bulgaria and Albania, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said on May 22.
A few days earlier, Lavrov said in Moscow – as quoted on the Russian foreign ministry website – “Now there are talks that Macedonia must be even deeper ‘federalised’, turned into a ‘flexible federation’ or maybe even a ‘confederation’. Someone even suggested that it should be divided, because of its ‘artificial’ (as they put it) nature, between Bulgaria and Albania.”
Lavrov did not say who “someone” was.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said that Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Poryazov had invited to a meeting at the foreign ministry the Russian charge d’affaires, Alexander Shapel. Russian ambassador in Sofia Yuriy Isakov is out of the country.
The ministry wanted clarification on Lavrov’s remarks and the mention of Bulgaria in the context of scenarios about the destabilisation of Macedonia.
“The Russian side was presented in detail the Bulgarian position in support of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Macedonia.”
It was “emphasised”, the Foreign Ministry said, that Bulgaria finds “categorically unacceptable” suggestions of any nature regarding the participation of Bulgaria in a scenario about destabilising Macedonia.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said that Shapel had emphasised that Lavrov had not meant that Bulgarian officials had participated in discussions about sharing out the Republic of Macedonia.
The Russian envoy said that the statement had not referred to the official Bulgarian position, “but to ideas circulated in the media, including the Bulgarian media”.
The Bulgarian side accepted this explanation, while pointing out that in Lavrov’s statement, this distinction had not been made, which had given rise to the need for Bulgaria’s categorical reaction – a reference by the ministry to the May 19 statement by Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov, describing Lavrov’s comments as “highly irresponsible”.
“Stability in the Western Balkans is of paramount importance to our national security and we cannot afford any ambiguity on this issue,” the Russian diplomat was told.
The Bulgarian side also emphasised that the crisis in the Republic of Macedonia has a political nature and it should not be allowed that suggestions made it develop into an ethnic conflict.
“Both sides agreed that the political crisis in the Republic of Macedonia should be resolved in the shortest possible time and put forward different views on mechanisms that can be applied to achieve this goal,” the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.
(Photo of Lavrov, addressing the federation council of the federal assembly of the Russian federation: Russian foreign ministry Facebook page)