Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted unanimously on January 18 to ratify the treaty with the Republic of Macedonia on friendship, good-neighbourliness and co-operation.
Of the 186 members present of the 240-seat legislature, all voted in favour of ratifying the treaty, which was signed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on August 1 2017 and ratified by the legislature in Skopje on January 16.
The vote in the Bulgarian Parliament was attended by Macedonia’s ambassador in Sofia, Marjan Gjorchev.
The ratification by Bulgaria’s MPs had been expected, given that in July 2017, a declaration in favour of the treaty was supported by all parliamentary groups.
The treaty defines basic principles in the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia – respect, trust, understanding, good neighbourliness, mutual respect for interests and taking into account a common history that links the two countries.
It is envisaged that the two countries will hold meetings between the representatives of the state authorities at different levels and will help to maintain contacts between the local authorities and the citizens.
Plamen Manushev, an MP for Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, told the National Assembly that the treaty would enable those in Macedonia who identify themselves as Bulgarians to say so freely, and would allow for an end to anti-Bulgarian propaganda in the neighbouring country. The treaty was a historic breakthrough in relations between two brotherly nations, he said.
Another GERB MP, Georgi Markov, said that Borissov was “one of the drivers of the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU”.
Ratification of the treaty with Macedonia comes in the first weeks of Bulgaria’s holding of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. Bulgaria has made the Western Balkans a key policy priority in its EU Presidency.
On January 17, Borissov said in an address to the European Parliament that Bulgaria and Macedonia had shown given an exceptional example that with tact and benevolence, the Balkan countries could solve problems without taking them to the EU.