History professor Aleksandar Litovski told Fokus that he was removed from the joint commission formed with Bulgaria, and that he did not receive explanation from the Government why was he replaced. Government sources simply said that Litovski was appointed there until the end of 2020, and the appointment is not being renewed. He is the only member of the commission who did not have his appointment renewed.
The move raised concerns that the Zaev regime is trying to stack the committee with loyalists who would accept Bulgarian claims on Macedonian history and national identity. He is being replaced with an ethnic Albanian – Isamedin Azisi. As the Bulgarian demands are not aimed at Albanian national identity, it is to be expected that his positions will be much more lenient than those of Litovski.
Litovski is an expert on the Second World War period, which quickly became the most difficult part of the historic dispute between the two countries. Bulgaria wants Macedonia to stop referring to the occupation during the war as an occupation, and to remove memorial plaques from that period that refer to the Bulgarian army as “fascist occupiers”. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev quickly agreed to this in his BGNES interview. But Zaev was not able to follow up with legally binding changes, and commission members, including Litovski, denounced his interview. Litovski warned that making concessions to Bulgaria will only lead to more extensive claims on their part, and will revive its greater state ambitions. Zaev has publicly called on the commission to be more open to compromise and the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party warned that he is looking for ways to change its members or pressure them in some way.