VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski insisted that Macedonia has much higher standards of minority rights than Bulgaria, and that this affects the rights of Macedonians who live in Bulgaria. His comments come at a time when Bulgaria is raising numerous issues with Macedonia to block Macedonia’s EU accession talks – and one of them is the alleged discrimination of Bulgarians in Macedonia.

Macedonia is a democratic society and every person has individual rights. Nobody in Macedonia makes problems how anybody else identifies or speaks his native language. But my question is, what rights do Macedonians in Bulgaria have? Macedonians in Bulgaria can’t self-declare as such, they can’t speak the Macedonian language and there are no Macedonian language schools. This is an issue for Bulgaria. Macedonia is levels ahead of Bulgaria in its democratic standards, Nikoloski said.

Bulgaria forbids Macedonia to raise the minority issue. The 2017 Zaev – Borisov treaty was tailor made to allow Bulgaria to raise the issue Bulgarian citizens who live in Macedonia (which is a much greater number as tens of thousands of Macedonians sought Bulgarian passports – mostly to be able to access the EU labour market), but not vice versa.