During a TV interview, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev acknowledged that Bulgaria will block Macedonia from opening EU accession talks unless he gives up on insisting that legendary VMRO leader Goce Delcev was exclusively a Macedonian.

Bulgaria has been demanding a concession on the ethnic identity of Delcev for months, basing the request on the 2017 Zaev – Borisov treaty under which Macedonia agreed to work with Bulgaria to adopt a shared historic narrative. Frustrated with Zaev’s delay, Bulgaria also sent out a harshly worded memorandum to the European Council, in which it declares that the Macedonian nation is recently derived from the Bulgarian nation, and that the Macedonian language is a dialect of the Bulgarian.

I believe that the historic commission will look at the positive aspect of the issue, through a positive lens, toward building bridges of friendship. The problem is in our different worldviews. We must look at this like a bridge of cooperation. Not to seize issues. If we seize Goce Delcev and claim him as solely a Macedonian, there will be no solution with Bulgaria, Zaev said, in an open request aimed at the historians who are members of the joint committee with Bulgaria.