German Diplomat: 80 years ago Macedonia did not Exist

Former German Deputy Ambassador to Bulgaria Gudrun Steinacker commented to Deutsche Welle on the problems between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. She was also ambassador to Skopje.

"Personally, I am of the opinion that Bulgaria should agree without any reservations to start negotiations on EU membership of North Macedonia. Because at the moment we are talking about the start of negotiations, not the accession of North Macedonia to the EU.

We are well aware that such negotiations can take years. In this sense, I do not show much understanding for the blockade imposed by Bulgaria. Yes, the two sides have differing views on many issues: minorities, language, culture and, above all, history.

These disputes are real, they have gained potential throughout history. For Bulgaria they are rooted in the 19th century, in the case of North Macedonia they date back to about 80 years ago, because before that this country did not exist.

To relieve such tensions, accumulated for so many years, takes time until it comes to understanding. Or at least until the conclusion that there is no way for the two sides to agree on all issues.

This is not a unique problem, which is only between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Similar conflicts exist elsewhere, for example between Slovakia and Hungary. Even in beautiful Norway, where I was at the time, there was still some friction with Sweden on certain topics. But such contradictions can always be resolved in a peaceful and mutually acceptable way. All that is needed is political will, and I hope that the new government in Sofia will quickly end the blockade."

North Macedonia's President met with Bulgaria's Prime Minister in Munich


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