Vasko Joleski from Struga, who says he obtained a Bulgarian passport in 2003 because he desperately needed to travel abroad and work, returned it today in protest against Bulgaria’s conditioning of Macedonia’s EU accession.

Tens of thousands of Macedonians have obtained Bulgarian passports as that country began to have its visa requirement toward the EU lifted, and the passport provided an option for Macedonians to work in Western Europe. Bulgaria made sure it conditions the citizenship applications with a demand that applicants declare that they or their ancestors have a Bulgarian origin and uses the number passport holders as evidence that Macedonia has a large Bulgarian minority.

I took the passport for existential reasons, and also for my health necessity – as I’m awaiting a heart transplant. But no privilege is enough to compensate the damage that Bulgaria inflicts on Macedonia, Joleski said as he announced that he is sending his passport ack to the Bulgarian embassy.