PM Petkov: "Skopje Visit Came Terribly Late"

NW 09:45:32 02-02-2022

PM Petkov:
"Skopje Visit
Came Terribly Late"

Sofia, February 2 (BTA) Ц Prime Minister Kiril Petkov rejected the criticism of President Rumen Radev Tuesday that his visit to Skopje in January came too early. "The truth is that we have lost 30 years in our relations with the Republic of North Macedonia. Not only was not my visit early: it was terribly late," Petkov said as he was approached by the press to comment RadevТs remarks.

"I could not wait another day to pay that visit," said he.

Petkov visited Skopje on January 18, a day after the new Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, stepped in office.

"I believe that if we donТt want the Balkans to remain the poorest and most corrupt place in the EU, we need to change the approach," said also Petkov. According to him, that new approach should be based on good neighbourliness, economic development and cooperation.

Asked to comment the meeting of President Stevo Pendarovski of North Macedonia with representatives of the OMO Ilinden organization, which is considered anti-constitutional in Bulgaria for pressing for the recognition of the rights of a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, he said that "many forces now will try to bring to a halt the process" of a thaw in relations between Sofia and Skopje. "Without these forces, we would have long had goodneighbourly relations." He went on to say that there are many forces in the Balkans that donТt want to see North Macedonia become part of the EU because they would gain from instability in the Balkans.

"For too long we have been using foreign countries and great powers as an excuse. It is time we rolled up our sleeves and took to work. If we try to do it the old way Ц being stubborn and insisting that it would be our way or the highway Ц it would keep us where it has brought us: at the lowest point [in relations]," said Petkov.

He declined to comment what the President of North Macedonia did "because, fortunately, the foreign policy of North Macedonia and Bulgaria is decided by the Prime Ministers and the two governments". LN//