Zoran Zaev’s Government has relied on services from a family of journalists to promote the Prespa treaty – Borjan Jovanovski, his sister Svetlana Jovanovska and her daughter Tanja Milevska have been outspoken supporters of Zaev and his deal. A day after when the Greek Parliament adopted the Prespa treaty, Jovanovski declared that it changes nothing in his ethnicity – “today, I’m still a Macedonian and I speak the Macedonian language”.

Svetlana Jovanovska was rewarded with a job in the Macedonian Embassy in the European Union, while Milevska was hired as Brussels correspondent for the Macedonian Information Agency – recently renamed into the Media Information Agency. All three have often reported from Brussels for various media outlets, invariably toeing the SDSM party line.

But, reality reasserted itself in the form of Bulgarian journalist Georgi Gotev, senior editor of the Euractiv news site which for a while employed Tanja Milevska. In a Twitter discussion with French Ambassador to Bulgaria Eric Lebedel, Gotev declared that Macedonians don’t exist. “All are Bulgarian, actually. North Macedonia cannot have minorities abroad from a period when it did not exist”, Gotev wrote in response to a comment from the Ambassador. Ambassador Lebedel shared a BBC report on the discrimination of Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia in Northern Greece, and wondered whether there is also a Bulgaria minority in this region.

Milevska tried to get her former colleague to accept the existance of Macedonians as separate from Bulgarians – “Are you saying there can’t be Kurdish minorities then? ;-)” she wrote, only to be shot back once more.

Kurds existed. North Macedonians exist since Yugoslavia fabricated them, the Bulgarian journalist responded.

For years Jovanovski and Milevska happily cooperated with Euractiv, mainly to smear the conservative VMRO-DPMNE Government in Macedonia. In 2011 it was Euractiv that published a Wikileaks cable meant to present the Gruevski Government as autocratic, ahead of the general elections in Macedonia, while Borjan Jovanovski and Tanja Milevska breathlessly shared and promoted this Euractiv report. During the Colored revolution in Macedonia, Euractiv frequently promoted anti-VMRO talking points, and aligned well with comments and reports from Jovanovski and Milevska.

But, with Gruevski gone and the Prespa treaty being implemented, it is becoming clear that the reason Gotev and Euractiv supported this “regime change” in Macedonia is that it weakens and redefines Macedonian national identity. Ostensibly the protests to remove Gruevski were supported by some Macedonians under the pretext that they would advance democracy and the rule of law in the country. But, the Prespa treaty, as Gruevski warned, is forcing Macedonia to redefine its nationhood and history and weakens the Macedonian character of the country. Neighboring countries and nations supported the protests against him for their own local reasons, hoping that it would advance their national claims on Macedonia and the Macedonians, and this Twitter exchange shows that strong Zaev supporters like the Jovanovski family can’t get even their former close associates to toe the official line on the Prespa treaty.