site.btaDeputy PM Demerdzhiev, Bulgarian Delegation Pay Floral Tribute at Gotse Delchev Grave in Skopje
"I do not think quite such security measures are necessary and the relations between our two peoples do not presuppose the draconian measures we are witnessing," caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev said, speaking after the Bulgarian delegation laid a wreath at the grave of Gotse Delchev in the courtyard of the Church of the Ascension in Skopje Saturday to mark the revolutionary’s 151st birth anniversary.
Many Bulgarians had difficulties in paying tribute at the grave of Gotse Delchev, Deputy PM Demerdzhiev said. The Bulgarian delegation he headed arrived at the church at the precise hour designated by the authorities, but there were no Bulgarian citizens who had been expected to come to pay their respect to Gotse Delchev too.
The mutual respect Bulgaria declares for the people of North Macedonia and the assurances received, presupposed precisely that everyone would be given the opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of Gotse Delchev, Demerdzhiev said.
The Bulgarian Deputy PM and Interior Minister said his North Macedonia counterpart, Oliver Spasovski, had informed him that the reason for the delay of vehicles with Bulgarian plates at the border checkpoints between the two countries were power shortages. To avoid such problems in the future, Demerdzhiev said he promptly ordered three generators to be prepared and the Bulgarian Interior Ministry will donate them to the checkpoints in question on Monday, the Deputy PM said.
To his regret, Demerdzhiev said he had learnt the problems at the border had continued even after manual document checks began. Such conduct is unacceptable and does not correspond to the attitudes of the two peoples, where there is not a shred of anything negative nor reason for provocations of such sort, said the Bulgarian Deputy PM.
"I expect every Bulgarian citizen who wants to offer flowers at Gotse Delchev's grave to arrive, lays his flowers here and return without any interventions. This is called security. The rest is something different, and I think that this different does not lead us on the path that we have set out on. The path is a United Europe, and a United Europe implies stability, mutual trust and respect. And as politicians of Bulgaria and North Macedonia we are obliged to build the kind of mutual trust and respect that exists between the people of the two countries," Demerdzhiev said.
"We have come to pay tribute to the memory of an Apostle, not to create tension," Demerdzhiev said, specifying that this is the right way and Bulgagia and North Macedonia should not give in to provocations aimed at dividing them.
Traffic across the border between Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia at the checkpoints in question was closed for some three hours and resumed after 1:00 p.m.
The marking of the 151st anniversary of Gotse Delchev's birth was held under unprecedented security measures. The entire area around the Church of Ascension, in whose courtyard is the grave of Gotse Delchev, was inaccessible from the evening of February 2. Delegations were allowed through certain corridors and at certain times, cameramen and reporters were stationed in different places, and no statements from official delegations were scheduled.