Bulgarian Deputy PM to Visit Macedonia Friday

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov is set to visit Macedonia on Friday and Saturday.

Djankov will be a special guest at the 11th annual conference of the Macedonian stock exchange.

He is expected to meet with Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski.

The major topics of their talks are expected to be the fight against contraband on the Bulgarian-Macedonian border, and the possibilities for updating the bilateral Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement signed in 1999.

Sofia recently sent Skopje a draft of a friendship treaty, which Macedonia is now reviewing. The proposal suggests increased cooperation in a number of fields, including the economy, infrastructure, energy projects and the fight against organised crime.

Although Skopje and Sofia officially have friendly relations, the states have opposite readings of some historical events that concern both sides, which has caused tension in the past.

While many Bulgarian scientists argue that the ethnic origin of Macedonians is Bulgarian, Macedonian historians see the Macedonian identity as a separate ethnicity.

The two countries also disagree about minorities. Skopje claims that a considerable Macedonian minority lives in western Bulgaria while Sofia says that these people are Bulgarians. Sofia also complains that Bulgarians living in Macedonia are subject to repression.

Bulgaria and Macedonia signed a declaration of mutual understanding and cooperation back in 1999. In it both sides agreed not to take hostile action against each other nor support activists who sought to harm the peace and territorial integrity of either state.

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