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08/02/23

Bulgaria Expects EU to Take Stance on New Sofia-Skopje Tensions

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Foreign Minister Nikolai Milkov has briefed his counterparts in the EU Foreign Affairs Council on the growing pressure against members of the Bulgarian community in the Republic of North Macedonia. He told Bulgarian reporters in Brussels that he now expects the EU to take a stance.
Tensions between Sofia and Skopje resurfaced after an attack against the secretary of a Bulgarian culture club in the town of Ohrid. The man sustained multiple injuries and was flown to Bulgaria by a government aircraft for medical treatment. The attack prompted a visit to Sofia by Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani and Bulgaria summoned its ambassador to Skopje for consultations.
"I informed the other ministers about the Ohrid incident and also about the escalation of tensions and the rights of the Bulgarian community there," said Milkov.
He went on to say that the events started with the adoption of what he called "repressive legislation" against the Bulgarian community and that "remarkable consensus exists between the power-holders and the opposition in Skopje on an anti-Bulgarian basis". "It means a lot because power-holders and opposition there almost never agree. After that [adoption of legislation], a Bulgarian club was set on fire and the perpetrator got a conditional sentence. Three more attacks followed against other [Bulgarian] clubs and one was shot at, but the culprits were never found," he said.
The top Bulgarian diplomat did not rule out a Bulgarian veto on possible further steps in Skopje’s EU accession process but expressed hope that things won’t come to that.

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