Sofia, Skopje to sign accord on good neighbourly relations
Macedonia counts on Bulgaria’s support for its NATO and EU membership campaigns
23 June, 2017
Macedonia will count on Bulgaria’s support for its NATO and EU membership bids, Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told journalists following a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov on 20 June. The text of the good neighbourly relations agreement between the two countries is almost finalised. The final version is expected to be signed on 2 August in Macedonia, Zaev informed.
“This is a historic moment, my first stop following my visit to Brussels is Sofia because we want to secure Bulgaria’s backing and support for our EU and NATO membership,” Zaev said. “Today, we asked Bulgaria to lend us its experience in using European funds. Macedonia has few European programmes at this point but we hope to have more launched and Bulgaria can help us with its valuable experience,” Zaev added, reiterating Macedonia’s desire to start EU accession talks and become a NATO member.
“Allow me to congratulate my colleague Zoran Zaev as after a deep political crisis our border with Macedonia is finally quiet,” Boyko Borisov said. According to the Bulgarian premier, Macedonia has a unique opportunity to make it so its citizens feel well. He is convinced that the road to NATO, the EU and united Balkans goes through domestic political stability and solving whatever problems exist. The infrastructure connectedness between Skopje and Sofia via railways and highways is crucial in terms of opening Macedonia to the world, Borisov believes. “Together with Greece, we will do our best to solve all problems because a destabilisation of Macedonia means destabilisation of our borders,” Borisov said, adding: “We support a united Macedonia and its membership in NATO and the EU.”
“Honouring the past together has been a serious issue, which is why we are visiting the monument of King Samuil today – because it is something we can celebrate together. We can also come together in celebration of the brothers Cyril and Methodius instead of their legacy being a bone of contention,” Borisov said, adding that if the two countries focus on infrastructure projects, both the Balkans and bilateral relations will look differently in 10-15 years.
“Macedonia has a European future and I am extremely happy that we have a friend such as PM Boyko Borisov. We also need the support of our friends in Greece,” the Macedonian premier said. “Western countries want to see us helping each other however we can. Macedonia is closing the chapter of nationalism and hatred and is opening a chapter of European future for all. History can be a unifying influence instead of a divisive one. The country that first recognised our independence made the first step towards promoting our aspirations for quick accession to NATO and the EU,” said Zoran Zaev. “If Macedonia wants us to, we can help – it all depends on the will of its political leadership,” Boyko Borisov said. “When they do their job, the help is always soon to follow.” The good neighbourly relations agreement is close to being finalised. What remains to be seen is whether there will be a problem with signing it in Macedonian language. “What we do now, paying homage to our shared history, is far more valuable than any contract,” Zoran Zaev said.