Bulgaria has asked EU Member States to stop the EU accession bid of North Macedonia.
North Macedonia is set to open EU accession negotiations in December after being an EU candidate country since 2005. After changing its name and working on its historical dispute with Greece and then entering NATO in March, the country hoped it would be plain sailing from now onwards.
But Bulgaria has submitted a document called the “Explanatory Memorandum on the relationship of the Republic of Bulgaria with the Republic of North Macedonia in the context of EU enlargement and Stabilization process” to 26 EU member state capitals.
It lays out Bulgaria’s position on several historical issues as well as the claimed “ethnic and linguistic engineering that has taken place” in North Macedonia since WWII. The document also says that the country’s accession path “provides a valuable opportunity for leadership to break with thee ideological legacy and practices of communist Yugoslavia.”
Bulgaria says that the enlargement process must not legitimize the ethnic and linguistic engineering that has taken place under the former authoritarian regimes.
Bulgarians believe that the people of Slavic descent living in North Macedonia are Bulgarians who speak the Bulgarian language but that were brainwashed by Tito’s regime. They believe that the “Macedonian identity” and language are artificial. This has been their stance since the 1950s.
Ulf Brunnbauer, Chair of history of Southeast and Eastern Europe at the University of Regensburg said it would be like Germans telling Austrians they are actually German, or Danes telling Norwegians they are actually Danish because they used to be part of their empire.
Some have called the letter a distraction technique designed to divert attention away from months of anti-corruption protests against Boyko Borisov’s government. But MEP and member of Bulgaria’s governing party Andrey Kovatchev said the government will not change its position and that North Macedonia will not be allowed to start EU accession unless it accepts the Bulgarians demands.