Cheap nationalisms in North Macedonia issue cost Bulgaria leadership role in Balkans

It was not that long ago, in 2018, when Bulgaria won praise in several quarters for using its presidency of the Council of the EU to return the Western Balkans to prominence as an issue.

Now, in 2020, Bulgaria has been facing the choice of whether to be guided by petty nationalisms, that plague of the Balkans, or whether to give primacy to the expanding and strengthening of the EU. An EU that its foes, in Moscow and other capitals, would prefer to see fractured, weakened and bereft of direction.

A Bulgaria that could have had the leadership role it dreamt of for itself is paying the price of having ultra-nationalists in government, a cohort that sees the opportunity, with an eye to the coming elections, in being beastly to the Republic of North Macedonia.

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Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.