President Stevo Pendarovski met with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul, to discuss the long standing request by the Macedonian Orthodox Church to be admitted as equal among other Orthodox churches.
Bartholomew sent out a greeting to the faithful in “North Macedonia” but otherwise offered little of substance to the public. The Zaev regime was hoping that this will be one of the gains from the 2018 Prespa Treaty, which was supposed to settle historic issues with Greece, but so far the Patriarch has refused to treat the Macedonian church as he did the Ukrainian church, which he recognized at the cost of seriously deteriorated relations with Russia.
In our case, Bartholomew would risk damaging his relationship with Serbia, which claims that the Macedonian church should come under its wing, but again likely with his native Greece, which is not too eager to see Macedonia established as an independent state.
The dispute caused a major scandal when Zaev, unwittingly in conversation with the Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus, offered to pay a bribe to Bartholomew for his recognition of the Macedonian church.