Good neighborliness and cooperation between the two countries on a pedestal

Dimitar Kovacevski and Kiril Petkov
Dimitar Kovacevski and Kiril Petkov / Photo: Government of the Republic of Northern Macedonia

After several months of stagnation, the activity of the Joint Commission for Historical and Educational Issues will be strengthened, which will hold three official meetings in the next four months, and in the meantime there will be talks and consultations.

She is successful the second joint session of the Macedonian and Bulgarian governments, good neighborliness will be on a pedestal and we will dedicate ourselves to the things that have been forgotten in recent years, the prime ministers said yesterday Dimitar Kovacevski and Kiril Petkov after the meeting of the two governments in Sofia, at which they were signed three memoranda of cooperation - for agriculture, for small and medium enterprises and for the railway line Skopje-Sofia. This is the second high-level meeting with a positive outcome in just seven days, after Petkov officially visited Skopje on January 18, which is a closer rapprochement between Macedonia and Bulgaria after the blockades that Sofia delivered in Brussels at the expense of the Macedonian European negotiations.

What was especially emphasized is that after several months of stagnation, the activity of the Joint Commission for Historical and Educational Issues will be strengthened, which will hold three official meetings in the next four months, and in the meantime there will be talks and consultations. The composition of the commission will not be changed.

For now, more economy, less politics

The two prime ministers at the second meeting remained focused on economic cooperation between the two countries instead of open political issues. Prime Minister Kovacevski said that political issues were discussed at the meeting in Skopje and at the meetings in Sofia, but in Sofia more was discussed about the topics covered by the working groups, which are working on specific projects in their areas.

The Prime Ministers stressed that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs are working at full capacity on open political issues and as soon as the views on any of them converge, the public will be informed in a timely manner. At the meeting last Tuesday in Skopje, one of the Bulgarian political demands "five plus one" was overcome, which referred to the use of the short and long name of our country, ie that the Republic of Northern Macedonia means the same as Northern Macedonia and is not a territorial claim to Bulgaria.

- At the meeting in Skopje, we opened a new process of dialogue. The working groups are formed and led by the ministers, which shows the political will and involvement for this process to move forward, but they will also include those from the real sector and chambers of commerce, from educational institutions. With this we want to move a process, which we want to show that two neighboring countries can always add value, for the countries and the citizens living in them - said Kovacevski at a joint press conference with Petkov.

Regarding the measurable criteria for the success of the dialogue, not only for the working groups but also for political issues, Prime Minister Kovacevski said that for him the criterion for success is if next week operators from Sofia come to Skopje or vice versa to discuss the most economically viable airline , which would start flights from March 1. The criterion for success in infrastructure, he added, is if by 2023 13 km of the road to the border crossing Klepalo are built and it is opened.

- For political issues, a successful criterion is if we succeed in talking to all these committees, normally through a political dialogue of governments, to reach an agreement and in the foreseeable future to have the first intergovernmental conference with the European Union - said the Macedonian Prime Minister.

Regarding whether the rights of Bulgarians in Macedonia will be considered as a criterion, Kovacevski stressed that there are different types of constitutions, and in the Constitution of Macedonia individual rights are exercised collectively. The inclusion of the Bulgarian minority in the Constitution is a process of constitutional changes that takes place in several phases and in which several institutions are involved.

- If this happens, and it is normal that such a thing happens on the path of a country to the EU, because then the Constitution is opened in order to make other adaptations, then through that process those issues will certainly be covered, based on to the demands of the citizens - said Prime Minister Kovacevski.

Kovacevski: Results in six months

The working groups for bilateral cooperation held separate meetings yesterday. The press service of the Macedonian government informs that at the first meeting the groups agreed on the dynamics of work, as well as the common basis on which they will exchange good practices and experiences, in order to intensify direct cooperation. After the session and the joint press conference with Petkov, Prime Minister Kovacevski said on his Facebook that concrete results from the working groups can be expected in six months.

- We are starting with the realization of projects of interest to the citizens of both countries. Such cooperation will mean rapprochement of the two countries and concrete benefits for a better life of our citizens. I expect in six months in all areas to show concrete results - wrote among other things Kovacevski.

He adds that the meetings with Petkov and the ministers of the two governments, assured him that there is a will on both sides for rapid progress in mutual relations.

- Kiril and I are new prime ministers and we have a responsibility, but also a strong desire to succeed in our ambition. "I strongly believe that this new chapter in the relations between our two friendly countries will bring progress, development and long-term benefits for both peoples," he added.

Kovachevski was scheduled to meet with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev yesterday afternoon.

VMRO-DPMNE seeks answers to "five plus one"

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE insists on transparency in the talks with Bulgaria and yesterday they again called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bujar Osmani to report to the Parliament on the negotiations with official Sofia. MP Antonio Milososki, who is chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee, yesterday in writing asked Osmani to come before the Commission and submit the answers that the Macedonian side sent to Sofia about the plan.five plus one ".

The written request proposes that the session be open to the public and to be held as soon as possible, from January 26 to February 15 this year.

- We are asking for this because we believe that it is not transparent and it is not democratic if the MPs in the Sofia Assembly know what the Macedonian MPs do not know. The Macedonian public has the right to find out what it is about through the representatives in the Legislative House. Is there anything to hide or is there anything to talk about with all MPs - Milososki said yesterday.

More than 60% of Bulgarians believe the veto should be lifted

In a poll published by "Gallup International Balkans"60,8% of the Bulgarian citizens surveyed believe that Macedonia should start negotiations for EU membership, but only if the Good Neighbor Agreement is implemented. Of those polled, 5,3 percent believe that their country should not support Macedonia in any way to become an EU member, and 7,6 percent answered that Bulgaria should support Macedonia for membership in the Union without any conditions. The remaining 16,3 percent did not answer, according to media in Sofia.

The poll, published two weeks ago by Bulgarian National Television and conducted by the Alpha Research agency, has similar results. At that time, 60,9% of the respondents voted in favor of the country to join the EU, but the question was asked in a slightly different format: "If the disputed issues are left aside, what is the interest of our country for Macedonia's membership in the EU?" .

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