Zoran Zaev insisted that Macedonia respects the rights of the Bulgarians – reacting to an issue that is becoming the latest obstacle to the opening of EU accession talks. An annoyed sounding Zaev responded to comments from Bulgarian President Rumen Radev who alleged that Macedonia is violating the rights of the ethnic Bulgarians.

In the past years, Zoran Zaev attended many more events organized by Bulgarian associations than Macedonian or Albanian associations, Zaev said, referring to himself in the third person. “We raised a monument to Colonel Karvanliev with Bulgarian flags. The Macedonian flag is also there. We showed our respect because they are our neighbors but also there are our citizens who self-identify as Bulgarians”. He added that the Government can’t keep raising hopes of the citizens for the opening of accession talks.

Bulgaria called on Zaev to amend the Constitution and list the Bulgarian community in the Preamble, where ethnic minorities are named along with the Macedonian nation. Some in Bulgaria are critical of the idea, insisting that the Bulgarian community should not be listed among the minorities, but that efforts should continue to be made to blur the difference between Macedonians and Bulgarians. Zaev accepted the demand, but has adopted a negotiating tactic to insist that this will be done only as Macedonia is on the verge of joining the EU.