Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and his counterpart from Skopje, Zoran Zaev, met in Sofia on February 4, praising the progress in bilateral relations that has followed the signing of the good-neighbourliness treaty.
Borissov said that the efforts made by Bulgaria in regard to the Republic of Macedonia had not been in vain.
At their seventh formal face-to-face meeting since Zaev became the former Yugoslav republic’s Prime Minister, Borissov underlined how progress had been made in commemorating together moments in the two countries’ shared history.
Borissov said that Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU – held in the first half of 2018 – had earned its place in history by putting the topic of the Western Balkans on the table.
“However much they like us or not, every country in the world takes that into account – both those who do not love us and those who do. That’s a fact,” Borissov said.
He said that though no one would have believed it, in just a year Bulgaria and Macedonia had reached an understanding, as had the Republic of Macedonia and Greece.
Borissov was referring to the good-neighbourliness treaty between Sofia and Skopje, as well as to the Prespa Agreement, agreed between Zaev and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras, to end the decades-long dispute between Athens and Skopje by renaming the former Yugoslav republic to the “Republic of North Macedonia”.
With the Prespa Agreement having been approved by the legislatures in Skopje and in Athens, the former Yugoslav republic is set to see its accession protocol to Nato signed on February 6 in Brussels by the ambassadors of the Alliance’s members.
“And I did not believe it,” Borissov said. “Twenty-seven years of waiting and suddenly, with the Bulgarian Presidency (of the EU) everything happened in six to seven months. Well, was that accidental?” Borissov said.
He said that by choosing this difficult topic, Bulgaria had given its neighbours great prospects, and this is indirectly important for stability, trade, prosperity, income, education, tourism, energy connectivity.
“Some said we only talk about Corridor No. 8. But listen – hundreds of millions of euros from the European Union, the European Commission, the World Bank. It’s already being built. Just so, they didn’t believe years ago, that in Bulgaria there’d be motorways. But two or three years passed – and it will a reality.”
Borissov predicted that the trade turnover between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, currently 650 million euro, would swiftly surpass a billion.
“Because many of the Bulgarian offices of foreign companies have an interest in investing in Macedonia, because their logistics offices are here,” Borissov said.
Zaev said that the friendship between the two countries had never been stronger, and was growing stronger still.
He thanked Bulgaria and its people for the assistance and efforts made regarding the Republic of Macedonia’s road to Nato and the Eu.
Zaev said that his country has been waiting for Nato membership for 27 years, and this was happening thanks to friends like Bulgaria, a Bulgarian government statement said.
(Photo, of Zaev, left, and Borissov: government.bg)