The Joint Macedonian – Bulgarian commission of experts on history agreed that Tsar Samoil and the Ss Clement and Naum of Ohrid will be celebrated jointly by the two countries.

Committee experts were debating for months over which historic figures should be considered as “shared” between Macedonia and Bulgaria, under the provisions of the treaty signed in 2017. The official Bulgarian position is that Macedonians are ethnically Bulgarians and speak a dialect of the Bulgarian language, and the treaty which was signed provides for changes in the Macedonian history books to reflect that. Bulgaria held the prospect of blocking Macedonia’s EU and NATO accession if this provision is not accepted, and the “ownership” of many other figures, including from the period of national liberation struggle like Goce Delcev, is being discussed.

After lengthy discussions the Joint commission agreed to recommend to the two countries that there are plentiful elements that we jointly celebrate Ss Clement and Naum and Tsar Samoil, as a bridge toward building mutual friendly relations, in the spirit of the Treaty of friendship and good neighborly relations, the Macedonian Institute for national history informed on Thursday.

The Bulgarian Parliament narrowly ratified Macedonia’s NATO membership protocol on Wednesday, but Macedonia will need Bulgaria to approve the opening of EU accession talks in a few months, and to then agree to the opening and closing of each individual accession chapter, which will likely be tied to the work of this commission.

Tsar Samoil is a medieval king who ruled from Ohrid, in Macedonia, but styled himself king of Bulgarians, while the two saints built on the work initiated by Ss Cyril and Methodius, translated the Bible onto Old Church Slavonic and made Ohrid the center of learning.