Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov held talks with Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov on June 14, expressing strong concern over the political crisis in Ivanov’s country and the need to carry out deeper reforms to return Macedonia to the path of European integration.
Mitov is on a visit to Macedonia during which talks also were scheduled with prime minister Nikola Gruevski and socialist SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, as well as with Mitov’s Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Poposki.
The Bulgarian Foreign Minister’s visit takes place against a background of a continuing deep political crisis in Macedonia, arising from alleged large-scale illegal wiretapping and abuse of power by the Gruevski government, which is the target of continuing protests seeking its resignation.
After an earlier announcement of an agreement on early elections in 2016, talks between the government and opposition, brokered by the EU, have faltered.
According to a Bulgarian Foreign Ministry statement, Ivanov told Mitov that he was ready to use all his constitutional prerogatives to achieve a lasting solution.
Mitov confirmed Bulgaria’s support for the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Republic of Macedonia and emphasised the need to meet the necessary conditions, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.
Mitov and Ivanov also discussed opportunities for developing bilateral relations and the related need for signing the neighbourhood and friendship agreement between the two countries, the ministry said.
Mitov’s visit started on June 4 with a meeting in Skopje with the ambassadors of Germany, UK, the United States, Italy and the Head of the EU Delegation.
The internal political situation and the prospects for the settlement of the political crisis topped the agenda of the discussions. The talks focused on the results of the negotiations between the political leaders of June 2, as well as those of June 10 held with the mediation of the EU.
Mitov called for a strong commitment of the EU and the Euro-Atlantic community for resolving the political crisis and for the implementation of the necessary reforms in Macedonia.
The participants in the meeting agreed on the importance of the swift return of the Republic of Macedonia to the road of the European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said.
One of the conditions for solving the existing problems in the Republic of Macedonia is the adherence with the principles of good neighbourly relations. Mitov voiced Bulgaria’s readiness to provide for the implementation of reforms.
Later in the day, in Tetovo, Mitov conferred with the leaders of the two main Albanian parties in the Republic of Macedonia – Ali Ahmeti, leader of the Democratic Union for Integration, and Menduh Thaçi, leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians.
At these meetings, Mitov emphasised the importance of ethnic stability and praised the mature political behaviour demonstrated by the Albanian community in the current crisis.
Mitov focused on the need of a permanent political dialogue for solving the political crisis and voiced hope that the negotiations between the leaders of the main parties will continue.
At this critical moment, there is a need of consensus between all political parties, as well as active inter-ethnic dialogue, the ministry statement said.
The implementation of reforms requires a clear political responsibility towards the process by all participants and the civil society, Mitov said. He and the party leaders discussed the details of the political agreement reached on June 2 and emphasized the need for its implementation.
The participants also discussed bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia. Ahmeti and haçi voiced support for the swift signing of the treaty on good neighbourly relations between the two countries. The two leaders reaffirmed that there is no alternative to the European and Euro-Atlantic perspective of the Republic of Macedonia, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.
(Photo of Mitov and Ivanov: mfa.bg)