Bulgarian leaders press Macedonian president on reforms
Bulgaria’s President and Prime Minister have underlined to visiting Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov the need to overcome the political crisis in his country, calling for dialogue among all political parties and the implementation of reforms.
Ivanov, who in Skopje is beleaguered by public protests demanding his resignation over a highly controversial granting of amnesty to Macedonian politicians implicated in an illegal wiretapping scandal – an amnesty he has now partly withdrawn – was in Sofia on June 1 for the South-East European Cooperation Process summit that Bulgaria is hosting.
Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev told Ivanov that Bulgaria was ready to provide any support requested by the institutions in Macedonia to overcome the current political crisis in that country.
Plevneliev emphasised that Bulgaria was reaching out a hand in support, but that it was up to political parties and leaders in the Republic of Macedonia to bear the historical responsibility for restoring dialogue and achieving a legitimate way out of the crisis.
According to a statement by the Bulgarian President’s office, Ivanov told Plevneliev that amid a situation of extreme confrontation in Macedonia, “the presidential institution is the only factor for preserving stability in the country”.
The statement said that Plevneliev and Ivanov agreed that the speedy holding of parliamentary elections in Macedonia and the election of a legitimate government was the only way to achieving a sustainable solution to the political crisis.
Macedonia twice has postponed early elections that were agreed to in a June 2015 EU-brokered plan. The second attempted date, June 5, was scrapped against a background of an opposition boycott and ruling party predominance that cast doubt over whether the poll would have been free and fair.
Plevneliev and Ivanov also called for a speedy conclusion to negotiations on a bilateral treaty on good neighbourliness between Bulgaria and Macedonia. This is an issue that has been on the agenda for several years, prompted by frequently vexed relations between Skopje and Sofia.
In talks on June 1, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told Macedonia’s Ivanov that “as a good friend of the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria holds to sincere relations between the two countries, which means that concerns can be shared openly. We believe that an exit from the situation can come only through dialogue among all political parties and implementation of the necessary reforms in the interests of all citizens and respect for the arrangements achieved”.
A Bulgarian government media statement said that Borissov’s expressed his country’s consistent position, which is to continue to support the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Republic of Macedonia.
“We are convinced that the future of all Western Balkan countries is in the EU. We confirm our willingness to discuss and provide expert assistance to the Republic of Macedonia on specific issues related to our experience to achieve substantial progress on its path towards membership of the EU and Nato,” Borissov said.