Zoran Zaev has refused to address directly the reports in Bulgarian media outlets, that he was offering a new formula on the Macedonian language – under which it would be declared as the same language as the Bulgarian, just internationally recognized as separate from it. Zaev visited Sofia this week and announced one of the concessions he is apparently ready to make in exchange for Bulgaria lifting its veto on Macedonia’s EU accession talks – to amend the Constitution and have the Bulgarians listed among Macedonia’s minority communities. But after his visit, several Bulgarian news outlets said that he was also offering the above mentioned formula on the language dispute. Bulgaria claims that the Macedonian language is just a dialect of the Bulgarian – as part of its broader strategy to declare that the Macedonian nation is part of the Bulgarian nation.

Zaev had a low level party spokeswoman deny the reports, as “lies and speculations spread by VMRO-DPMNE, based on media speculations that cite no source and damage our state and national interests”. Bogdanka Kuzeska gave a non-answer to a direct media question about the issues that are on the table. “Both sides, the Republic of (North) Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria are fully committed to restoring the trust and the processes that SDSM is engaged in along with the SDSM led Government are in favor of dialogue. There is no room for any manipulations and speculations. I will not comment on the reports of the Bulgarian press since I don’t know their source”, Kuzeska said. The Zaev office gave a similar non-response to the reports coming from Sofia.

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE, on the other hand, called on Zaev to come out in person and directly deny the reports, noting that in his infamous BGNES interview Zaev already declared that the citizens of his Strumica and Petric, across the border, speak the same language.

If he fails to do so, with his silence he will declare that he is accepting the position tha the Macedonian and the Bulgarian languages are the same and that, until its formal codification in 1945, the Macedonian language was a dialect of the Bulgarian, said VMRO spokesman Naum Stoilkovski.

Zaev’s visit was accompanied by numerous nationalist outbursts on the Bulgarian side – especially from the VMRO-BND party which has an unsigned tactical cooperation deal with Zaev.

The country’s former Defense Minister Krasimir Karakacanov said that he is rooting for Macedonia at the European Championship because it is the “alternative Bulgarian team”, while the party’s member of the European Parliament Angel Dzhambazki issued a video that claims Macedonia as part of the Bulgarian lands. Other media outlets in Bulgaria pointed to the futility of Zaev’s mission, that comes ahead of the early elections and while Bulgaria does not have a political Government, noting that “he could have offered us Ohrid and still came back without a deal”.