The meeting between Macedonian and Bulgarian historians in Skopje concluded this afternoon with both parties stating that the progress that was achieved was modest and “not essential”. Bulgaria demands concessions from Macedonia on historic and national identity issues, which it mainly expects to be delivered through this expert commission, before it will allow the opening of EU accession talks.

The identity of Goce Delcev remains the main problem standing in the way of any progress. It is counter-productive that this commission is placed at the top of the Macedonia – Bulgaria treaty, said historian Dragi Georgiev, who leads the Macedonian part of the team.

Bulgaria has been asking that Macedonian historians declare Goce Delcev, a legendary VMRO leader and a key figure of the Macedonian national liberation movement, to have been an ethnic Bulgarian.

Angel Dimitrov, leading the Bulgarian team, said that there was no time or possibility to advance on the issue of Goce Delcev. “There is nothing new, no sensations”, said Dimitrov, who compared the meeting to the weather today – cloudy, rainy, with just a little bit of sunshine.

Georgiev added that the talks focused on technical issues, on history school books in Bulgaria, and on Goce Delcev. “We had some progress on the textbooks, there is a recommendation which will be reviewed by our Bulgarian colleagues. We talked about Goce Delcev, there are new proposals and ideas on the table, and they will remain to be the subject of discussion. There is a working version of the text on the table, and it will be reviewed”, Georgiev said.

Macedonia is hoping that Bulgaria will allow the opening of EU accession talks until the end of the year. But angry with the slow progress on the issue of Goce Delcev, Bulgaria responded with a strongly worded memorandum it submitted to the European Union, in which it raises numerous other issues that touch to the core of the Macedonian nation and language.