Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has denied that Bulgaria was among the countries that had prevented the EU from extending a date for neighbouring Macedonia to begin EU accession negotiations.
Borisov stated this on Thursday after local media in Macedonia speculated that his country backed Greece at this week’s EU Council meeting in Brussels on which Macedonia did not get the desired start date.
“Our position was the same as the one we had negotiated with [Macedonian] Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Bulgaria supports Macedonia, and we hope that this will be evaluated” Borisov said.
According to him, information about a so-called “Bulgarian blockade” has been initiated by those who want to harm relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria.
He praised the EU decision to scrap visas for traveling Macedonians that will enter in to force on 19 December. Borisov said he hopes that once Macedonians experience free travel they will see the advantages of being in NATO and EU and will learn to appreciate Bulgarian friendship.
On Tuesday EU ministers agreed to return to the issue of Macedonia’s start date during the first half of 2010, thus effectively giving the country an additional six month period to solve the name spat with Greece.
Meanwhile reaction in Skopje to the decision continued. President Georgi Ivanov reiterated that his country will not change its identity under pressure.
“This is the essence of human rights and the living force of the free world. Therefore, our red line in the talks with Greece does not originate from nationalism, caprice, demonstration of power or irrational requirements, but from fundamental gains of civilization that have granted people freedom,” Ivanov stated in Skopje.
Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki reiterated that despite the bad news from Brussels his country will continue its reforms and strive toward EU and NATO integration.