Macedonians on Dec. 31, 1943 didn’t go to bed as Bulgarians only to wake up as Macedonians the next morning, on Jan. 1, 1944. They have been Macedonians, feeling as Macedonians for centuries until today. This is our direct response, PM Zoran Zaev said Monday when asked to comment the latest statement by Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov.

In the spirit of friendship, he said, we continue with a careful narrative, but we will certainly react to the fact that it hurt us directly.

It hurts when someone talks about your feelings.

Everywhere in the world, everyone has the right to decide for themselves how they feel and how they decide. Our right to self-determination is our sovereign right. Bulgaria has recognized our sovereignty first in the world, as the first neighboring country to recognize the independence of our country. If the Bulgarians are Europeans, then the European values should respect our right to identity as Macedonians who speak Macedonian language and our right to establish and acknowledge our roots,  said Zaev.

He added that the Macedonian people have strong and indisputable roots in history and in many eras.

It is true that we have a common history. We have accepted that. It is also true that we have a separate, special history in both countries. Let’s be smart to see the common history as something that connects us and that makes us bigger friends, that allows us greater cooperation, instead of something that divides us, said Zaev.

We are facing a period of bitterness, said Zaev, because no one hoped that Bulgaria could veto our country.