Bulgaria Parliament’s Declaration Adds Tension With North Macedonia

Bulgaria's parliament on Thursday adopted a declaration condemning the recent attack on a Bulgarian activist in neighbouring North Macedonia, an alleged "anti-Bulgarian campaign" in the country and warning that this could derail Skopje's EU integration.

The MPs' declaration expresses concern that "the escalation of the anti-Bulgarian campaign in North Macedonia may threaten the process of inclusion of Bulgarians in the country's constitution" and so endanger North Macedonia's EU accession, which would "serve the interests of third-party countries".

This was an apparent reference to Russia, which opposes further EU and NATO enlargement in the Balkans, though the declaration does not explicitly name which countries it is referring to.

The declaration "categorically condemns the manifestations and calls for violence against Bulgarians in North Macedonia, their organisations and clubs", and especially "the severe criminal act against the Bulgarian Hristian Pendikov", insisting that Skopje undertake "systemic measures" to bring his attackers to justice.

Pendikov, secretary of a recently opened Bulgarian club in the North Macedonian town of Ohrid, named after Bulgaria's World War II ruler, Tsar Boris, was attacked on January 19. North Macedonia's authorities condemned the attack and police already apprehended the suspects.

Further in the declaration, it condemns the "hate speech in North Macedonia against the local Bulgarians and against Bulgaria, as well as its manifestations in political, public and media sphere", and says Skopje should stop denying that the rights and safety of Bulgarians in the country are endangered.

The declaration, passed on Thursday morning, was supported by 184 legislators in the 240-seat parliament...

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