Former Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski – who is Zoran Zaev’s envoy to Bulgaria – announced that the two countries are close to a deal, but warned that the concessions “may appear overwhelming at first”.

Bulgaria demands serious concessions on issues of national identity and history, that would require Macedonians to declare that they were originally Bulgarians. It is blocking Macedonia’s EU accession talks until the demands are met.

There are realistic chances to reach a compromise solution. We are close to a formula that for the both sides at first may look like overwhelming concessions, but I am sure that Bulgaria finally got our crystal clear message that we will not back down, Buckovski said.

In the course of the negotiations so far, Macedonia was the only party that was required to make concessions – given the stronger position Bulgaria has as an EU member state.