Bulgarian President Rumen Radev told his Macedonian counterpart Stevo Pendarovski that the country needs to meet all Bulgarian demands before it will be able to formally open its EU accession talks. Bulgaria wants major changes to the Macedonian historic and national founding narrative, to make them fit the Bulgarian view of history.

At this point, it allowed Macedonia to begin a pre-accession screening of its legislation in Brussels, but it demands that Macedonia amends its Constitution and names the Bulgarians as a constituent nation before accession talks actually begin.

Factual EU accession talks have not begun. They will begin when Macedonia includes the Bulgarians in its Constitution. that must be very clear. That is when the accession talks will begin. We need to resolve all open questions and it is unavoidable that we discuss our common history, President Radev said.

Pendarovski, who was in Sofia yesterday for the opening of the Bulgaria – Greece gas connector, made a tongue in cheek statement that he is happy to be there to discuss practical matters, but that he wouldn’t have come if the main topic of discussion was history. Radev, who is a hard-liner on the Macedonian dispute and whose BSP socialist party is facing elections today, responded to Pendarovski by reminding him that Bulgaria still holds all the cards.

The collapse of energy production in Macedonia gives Bulgaria even more power, as Macedonia is desperate to secure energy supplies for the winter.