The Kovacevski Government issued a statement to the press denying reports that it deliberately cut short the Macedonian national anthem during the welcoming ceremony of Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.

The previous Zaev Government would often edit out the verses that refer to historic VMRO leaders Goce Delcev, Pitu Guli, Dame Gruev and Jane Sandanski. Bulgaria claims these heroes as its own exclusive property, and when a short version of the anthem, without words, was performed during the visit, it quickly prompted allegations that this was done to appease the visitor.

The Government insists that its standard practice is to perform a short, instrumental version of the national anthems during welcoming ceremonies. “This is an established practice in Macedonia and internationally”, the Government said in its statement.

The previous major confrontation over the anthem was in July 2019, when the US Embassy hired singer Tamara to perform the anthem during the 4th of July celebration. Tamara eventually apologized for the truncated version of the anthem she performed, and even got a tattoo with the “offending lyrics”.