site.btaUPDATED Foreign Ministry Expert Comments on Work of Joint Historical Commission with North Macedonia
"Any attempt to manipulate the public in the Republic of North Macedonia with untrue stories about the activities of the Joint Historical Commission we take as an attempt to worsen relations with Bulgaria, and the prospect of the European future of the Republic of North Macedonia is also threatened," Zhelyazko Radukov, State Expert at the Southeast Europe Directorate with the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, said during a briefing at the Ministry here on Thursday.
Regarding the work of the commission, he said it is clearly regulated. In his words, any debate about the status of the Macedonian Orthodox Church and its relations with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is not related to the work of the Commission at all.
Radukov noted that the Commission has its important role in clarifying some long-standing controversies and its work is not rushed. It has drawn up recommendations to the two governments, which they have accepted, for joint celebrations of certain personalities and events of particular significance in the common history of the two countries in the Middle Ages, he explained.
The expert also commented on the anti-discrimination commission's decision regarding controversial content published by the Ivan Mihailov Cultural Club in Bitola. He outlined three conceptual problems.
The first is that the decision of the commission cannot be appealed, which is strange for a democratic system, Radukov said.
The second problem we see is that the commission allows itself a unilateral interpretation on a very important issue of our common history. And in its interpretation, in its motives, it contradicts very serious works on the history of the Balkans and the Republic of North Macedonia in the first half of the 20th century, Radukov said. He explained that for such contradictions the governments of Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia have established the Commission on historical issues. The Commission's job is to clear up such contradictions, Radukov said. He stressed that this is one of the issues that will be raised at the next meeting of the working groups between the two ministries.
"The third problem is that so far our colleagues from Skopje have assured us that the Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia have all the rights to develop their cultural and historical identity," Radukov said, adding that, ironically, with this decision the Commission for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination actually discriminates against Bulgarians.
Asked whether the commission's decisions could be appealed before international courts, Radukov said: "Initial analysis indicates that the decision itself is not appealable. But the resulting consequences, if the Republic of North Macedonia decides to apply them, can. We assume that we are fully prepared to support Bulgarian organisations in appealing if they deem it necessary. I think they will."