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Eurothink held the final conference “Demystifying (Non)Neighborly Relations on the Road to the EU”

Eurothink-Center for European Strategies held the final conference: “Demystifying (Non)Neighborly Relations on the way to the EU: The Case of North Macedonia and Bulgaria”.

In the first panel: “The role of the EU in the relations between North Macedonia and Bulgaria” spoke: H.E. d. Jaroslav Ludva, ambassador of the Czech Republic, who called for dialogue, and that these issues should be discusses at expert level and that some kind of compromise should be found, because nothing is black and white.

Counselor of the Embassy of Canada for Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro Mr. David Morgan highlighted the excellent cooperation with Eurothink and highlighted the support of the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives. This fund supports local projects that address important topics that the Fund believes are essential to improving our world. This includes finding solutions through discussing bilateral difficulties, such as those currently affecting North Macedonia and Bulgaria.

The CEO of Eurothink, Mr. Dimitar Nikolovski emphasized that much more work should be done to reduce tensions, especially between the two societies, beyond the relations between government representatives. And to give much more space to the conciliatory voices.

In the second panel titled “Possibilities of future cooperation” university professors from both countries and civic activists took part. From the Macedonian side, Mrs. Katerina Kolozova from the Institute for Social and Human Sciences in Skopje, and Mr. Ljupco Petkovski – Political scientist, Eurothink-Center for European Strategies participated.

According to Dimitar Atanasov, from the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the inclusion of Bulgarians in the Macedonian constitution is pointless and that regardless Bulgaria should allow Macedonia to negotiate with the EU. Atanasov pointed out that there are political entities on both sides of the border that are working to worsen the situation.

The university professor Stefan Dechev from the Southwestern University “Neofit Rilski” in Blagoevgrad emphasized that there is no history mentironed in the Copenhagen criteria. When Bulgaria entered the EU in 2007, they did not revise the Bulgarian history textbooks. But we can now use the opportunity, as a EU member country and a candidate country, two narratives that can be Europeanized and humanized.

According to the Bulgarian professors, the problem is the disputed names of the Bulgarian clubs in the country. They said that Vancho Mihailov is a historically controversial person even in Bulgaria and therefore, instead of inflaming nationalist politics, reconciliation is needed on both sides.