Bulgarian PM and North Macedonia agrees to redouble efforts to boost battered ties

On Tuesday, the prime ministers of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski and Bulgaria, Kiril Petkov, agreed to improve the Balkan nations’ relationships. The alliance between both was embittered after the Bulgarian obstructed North Macedonia’s bid to join the European Union (EU).

Both prime ministers in a press conference declared that they have a “common goal” to create a better future for both countries.

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Bulgarian Prime Minister Petkov visited Skopje just two days after the new cabinet of North Macedonia was confirmed, which would be led by Social Democrat leader Dimitar Kovachevski.

The simmering dispute came to a head in 2020, following Bulgaria refusing to give official permission to its small neighbour to start a formal talk with the 27-nation bloc. At that time, Bulgaria said that Skopje had, however, failed to respect the friendship deal signed in the year 2017, mainly based on the shared history as well as language.

Recently, Skopje has just fixed a similar years-old dispute with its neighbouring nation Greece, which has assisted North Macedonia’s progress in seeking membership for the bloc.

Mr Kovachevski said, “We have made a promise with each other to use new powers to improve our relations with respect.” He further added that on January 25, the governments of both nations would have a joint meeting in Sofia, under which they will discuss the joint working groups for cooperation in infrastructure, European integration, economic issues, trade, education, culture and history.

Regarding the new alliance, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, who formed the government last month, said, “I’m excited about the new dynamics, and I can assure you that the result about the same would be visible in the next few weeks.”

However, the six western Balkan countries, North Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Montenegro, are at different stages in their bid to join the EU. Meanwhile, the most significant progress has been made by Serbia and Montenegro.