Croatia has been a strong advocate for Northern Macedonia’s accession to the European Union. However, at the end of 2020 fellow EU member Bulgaria imposed a veto on the start of EU negotiations with Northern Macedonia, which has been a candidate country since 2005.
On Thursday Croatian President Zoran Milanović commented on accusations from Bulgaria that he had been too harsh in his criticism of Sofia's policy towards the European integration of Northern Macedonia. The president said that his comments had not compromised Croatian interests, and that he had only said what everyone else is thinking but is too afraid to say publicly. Specifically, that Bulgaria is setting inappropriate and unrealistic conditions for Northern Macedonia's accession to the EU.
"They are victims of a lack of interest and basic empathy. And now Bulgarian politics has decided to place conditions in the form of technicalities and details. This isn't something we do in the 21st century. This absolutely isn't the basis for future cohabitation within the European Union," President Milanović Said.
Yesterday the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry summoned Croatia's Ambassador to Bulgaria, Jasna Ognjanovac, over President Milanović's statement in which he strongly criticized "Bulgaria's policy towards the European integration of Northern Macedonia," according to Bulgarian media.
President Milanović made the remarks after a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process at Brdo Pri Kranju Slovenia, in which he warned that Northern Macedonia "is in an impossible position" in which one EU member state is demanding that Northern Macedonia rewrite its history textbooks to "define its national genesis in the way requested by a neighboring country … and revise and negate their common ethnic and linguistic history." And while he did not specify the country in question, it was clear that he was referring to Bulgaria. He went on to say that he would "openly oppose" the move.
On January 15th, 1992 Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of the then-Republic of Macedonia. However, Bulgaria has refused to recognize the existence of a separate ethnic Macedonian nation and a separate Macedonian language.
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