The Macedonian national identity, language and history can’t be open for negotiations with Bulgaria, said VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski in an interview with the Macedonian office of Deutsche Welle. Mickoski spoke to the news outlet before his planned visits to Budapest, Ljubljana and Zagreb, for meetings with top regional conservative leaders.

If these negotiations include identity issues that are linked to the language, the history and our identity, we have a clear position that these issues are non-negotiable. They can’t be haggled over and no concessions can be accepted in that regard. I have said before that if our Eastern neighbor continues to insist on these issues, then the content of the treaty that they signed with Zaev is exhausted and instead of offering us a path forward to the future, it offers us just more of the past. If they do so, for us as a political party, this treaty will be history. We will require a new treaty that will be oriented toward the future and will not include these issues, Mickoski said.

The opposition leader also accused Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of hand-picking the members of the joint committee of historians, so that he will be able to impose outcomes in its meetings. Zaev recently removed an expert on the contested period of the Second World War from the committee and appointed an ethnic Albanian historian in his stead, signalling that he is desperate to reach a deal with Bulgaria on the issues of national history.