Foreign Minister Nikolay Milkov said on Thursday that Bulgaria could suspend joint projects with North Macedonia over the beating of a Macedonian citizen who identifies as Bulgarian. Bulgaria also recalled its ambassador to North Macedonia for consultations.
Relations between the Balkan neighbors have seriously deteriorated after last week’s attack on an employee at the Bulgarian cultural center in Ohrid, North Macedonia.
Bulgaria’s Milkov said his country would not give up protecting the rights of its community in North Macedonia and would alert its EU partners about the matter.
“Things cannot remain as they were, this is not a productive approach,” Milkov said in an interview with the national BNT. It must be clearly understood that things have changed. We will continue our bilateral cooperation with this neighboring country. will review the many components and elements of the TV on Thursday. He did not specify which joint projects could be suspended.
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He added that Sofia would not block the EU integration of its neighbors as North Macedonia had never formally started the talks.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria recalled its ambassador to Skopje for consultations amid foreign ministry statements about the growing number of hate crimes against Bulgarians.
“The aim of the consultation is to discuss possible measures to stop the dangerous trend of increasing pressure on North Macedonian citizens with a Bulgarian identity,” the statement said.
The latest incident comes just weeks after Bulgaria requested that the prosecution of hate crimes against ethnic Bulgarians in North Macedonia become part of its accession talks with the European Union.
Sofia’s request followed attacks on two Bulgarian cultural centers in North Macedonia, including one in Ohrid.
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Complexities between the two countries have stood in the way of their political cooperation. Two years after the official start of negotiations on Skopje’s accession to the European Union, Sofia lifted her veto in June 2022 on the condition that Skopje guarantees the rights of the Bulgarian people in the country through constitutional changes and with Bulgaria Committed to maintaining good relations.
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