President Stevo Pendarovski also opined on the dispute with Bulgaria over the national heritage of legendary VMRO leader Goce Delcev. Like Zaev earlier today, Pendarovski also insisted that Delcev was an ethnic Macedonian, but also gave a conciliatory statement meant to placate Bulgaria and avoid its vetoing of Macedonia’s EU accession talks.

He was a Macedonian revolutionary and he contributed greatly to our cause. But I don’t object to those claiming that he fought for Bulgaria. Everyone can honor somebody as his own hero. He can be honored by whoever wants to honor him, that should only add to our satisfaction. Like with Mother Teresa, we will not argue whether she was an Albanian or a Macedonian, Pendarovski said.

Bulgaria demands that Macedonia makes concessions on the issue and declares Delcev as an ethnic Bulgarian before it will allow the opening of EU accession talks. Earlier in his term Pendarovski stated that Delcev has declared himself as a Bulgarian in some of his letters, to applause from Bulgarian politicians. But Pendarovski quickly amended his statement, saying that Delcev only did that to secure a seat in the Sofia military academy, similarly to how some Macedonians now apply for a Bulgarian passport in order to live and work in the EU more easily. This reversal caused outrage in Bulgaria aimed at Pendarovski.