New SDSM party leader Dimitar Kovacevski, who has avoided saying much of substance in the past weeks after he succeeded Zaev, is formulating his positions on the dispute with Bulgaria ahead of the planned visit by Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. In an interview, Kovacevski endorsed Petkov’s plan to expand the number of areas in which the two countries are conducting talks beyond just history.

This is a precondition for us to progress. Bringing the two countries closer together and cooperating in all areas of life is a main precondition for us to open a new page in our relations with Bulgaria and to build a sincere friendship. We need to tone down the voice of hatred. In reality, we have more similarities than differences as countries and we must concentrate on the mutual interest, Kovacevski said.

Petkov, who is expected to be the first foreign leader to meet with Kovacevski after he is named Prime Minister of Macedonia, with the visit scheduled for the 18th, wants new commissions that will discuss infrastructure, economy and other issues, besides history. His initial optimistic proclamations that Bulgaria may lift the veto after just six months were quickly quashed by the more hardline President Rumen Radev.