Bulgarian President Calls for Prompt Response to Alerts about Discrimination against Bulgarians in North Macedonia

Bulgarian President Calls for Prompt Response to Alerts about Discrimination against Bulgarians in North Macedonia

Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has
called on the responsible institutions in Bulgaria and the
Republic of North Macedonia to respond promptly to alerts about
significant issues confronting Bulgarians in North Macedonia,
the head of State's Press Secretariat said here on Monday.

Radev's position is prompted by a letter from ethnic Bulgarians
in the Republic of North Macedonia, received at the
Administration of the President, in which they voice concern
over their ongoing discrimination in that country, the press
release says.

The head of State argues that respect for the free right to
self-determination of Bulgarians in the Republic of North
Macedonia who, despite all repressions during the totalitarian
past, have preserved and continue to openly express their
Bulgarian national identity, is a key step in the promotion of
good-neighbourly relations between the two countries.

The President expects the official authorities in North
Macedonia to counter the alarming proportions that hate speech
against Bulgaria and Bulgarians in that country are assuming,
given that over 100,000 people in the Republic of North
Macedonia hold Bulgarian citizenship acquired on the basis of
their freely expressed will and documented Bulgarian ethnic
origin, and that Bulgarian citizenship applications of thousands
 of others are being processed. "Bulgarians in the Republic of
North Macedonia must enjoy equal rights with the rest of the
citizens in that country, in line with the most rigorous world
and European standards. This basic principle of democracy is
also enshrined in the spirit of the 2017 Treaty of Friendship,
Good-neighbourliness and Cooperation between the two countries,"
 Radev's position reads.

The Bulgarian President backs appeals by the ethnic Bulgarians
in their letter to the Bulgarian institutions for easing the
Bulgarian citizenship acquisition procedures for North
Macedonia's citizens who openly declare their Bulgarian
identity, and to the institutions in that country for creating
all conditions and guaranteeing the right to free and clear
expression of the will of those wishing to identify themselves
as Bulgarians by descent in accordance with the principles of
international law. 

Later on Monday, reacting to the President's appeal, the
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry issued a position recalling that the
Ministry has always responded to such alerts at all diplomatic
levels and has often made public the steps it has been taking.
"We express satisfaction that the head of State shares our
position that the Republic of North Macedonia must respect the
right to self-determination of all its citizens, including those
 who identify themselves as Bulgarians," the Foreign Ministry's
press release says.

In December 2020, Bulgarian Justice Minister Desislava Ahladova
told Parliament during Question Time that over 65,000
Macedonians had acquired Bulgarian citizenship since 2010. More
than 77,000 citizenship applications had been submitted by
nationals of North Macedonia, the largest number in 2018 (nearly
 13,000) and in 2012 and 2019 (over 10,000 each). A total of
1,963 applications were submitted between January 1 and October
31, 2020.

On Sunday, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir
Karakachanov said in a Bulgarian National Television interview
that since November 2020, when Bulgaria blocked the start of
that country's EU accession negotiations, Bulgarians there have
come under mounting pressure and repressions from the local
political elite. A senior official of North Macedonia's Defence
Ministry has called for the extradition of all Bulgarians in
that country to Bulgaria. Another public official has published
a list of all settlements in North Macedonia where there are
Bulgarians, urging that they should be spit on and beaten,
Karakachanov said.

The non-governmental Bulgarian National Platform for Unification
 and Development has reported that some 150 cars with Bulgarian
registration plates were immobilized and 1,200 fines were served
 on drivers of such vehicles during a police operation in Ohrid,
 Struga, Bitola, Stip, Kocani, Veles, Strumica, Radovis,
Gevgelija and parts of Skopje in January 2021, "while cars with
Albanian, Kosovo and Serbian plates are not pulled over for such
 checks, which can easily be established by an independent
on-site check in Kumanovo or Tetovo, where such vehicles are
most common". NV/LG


Source: Sofia