site.btaForeign Minister Osmani: Opening of Clubs with Provocative Names Has Harmed Integration Efforts of Bulgarian Community in North Macedonia
Speaking at a news conference during an Adriatic Charter meeting in Skopje on Tuesday, North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said constant communication was needed with the Bulgarian community in North Macedonia so as to explain that the opening of clubs with provocative names did the worst harm to that community and its efforts to become integrated in society. "We have an interest for the Bulgarian community to feel fine in its country, the Republic of North Macedonia," Osmani said.
On March 16, the commission on the use of names of historical figures in North Macedonia issued a negative opinion on the use of the name Ivan Mihailov by the Bulgarian Cultural Centre in Bitola. Meanwhile, the Central Registry of the Republic of North Macedonia announced it was rejecting an application for agreement to the name of the King Boris III Civil Society Association in Ohrid.
Osmani said he had suspended his regular weekly news conferences in the run-up to the April 2 parliamentary elections in Bulgaria and had been careful in his comments "because political parties make statements which seem to work during the election campaign, but afterwards politicians fall victim to them."
"In Bulgaria our issue has become the subject of positions built by the Bulgarian state during those frequent [election] campaigns in the last two years," Osmani said.
Saying that he is a representative of the second largest ethnic community in North Macedonia, Osmani commented that as regards integrating the communities "in a functional multi-ethnic democracy", the Bulgarian community should learn from its experience in North Macedonia "that it is only by increasing the trust of citizens and other communities that Bulgarians can enjoy equal rights".
Answering a question about Hristian Pendikov, Secretary of the King Boris III Bulgarian Cultural Club in Ohrid, who was assaulted in that town on January 19, Osmani said he did not know if and when Pendikov would return to North Macedonia where the assailant is on trial. The chief diplomat said, however, that to him, Bulgaria's reaction to the incident had not been symmetrical since it had "accused the state [North Macedonia] of systemic discrimination".