site.btaUPDATED North Macedonia's President Pendarovski: Bulgaria Has Politicized Pendikov's Case
Bulgaria has politicised the case of Hristian Pendikov, Secretary at the King Boris III Bulgarian Cultural Club in Ohrid, who was beaten up there on January 19, President of the Republic of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski said in an interview with the Macedonian Telma TV. Pendarovski said that both he and North Macedonia's government had clearly distinguished state competences, calling for responsibility, but had not tried to include this case in bilateral relations with Bulgaria.
Pendarovski pointed out that the message he had posted on his Facebook page after the announcement of the prosecution office in Ohrid, "sticking to the information from the prosecution office at the time", condemning the act of violence, pointing out that the beaten man was the secretary of the cultural club of Bulgarians in Ohrid, because the Ohrid prosecution said that the incident started with the words "Shame on you for being Bulgarian", called on the competent authorities to clarify the whole case and the guilty to face sanctions.
North Macedonia's President said that he did not see such an objective reaction to the situation from the Bulgarian side. According to him, the case immediately entered the Macedonian-Bulgarian narrative of ethnic-related violence, proposing the idea that "he was beaten just because of that [his identity]".
According to Pendarovski, in the short term, those who politicise the case may "score some political points here and there because elections are coming, but in the long term they will get nothing."
"First, it is a historical narrative, or understanding of the relations between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, which dates back to the 1960s. It has entered the minds of many generations of Bulgarian politicians. I am not saying that there are not people here who see Macedonian-Bulgarian relations in this way. I am not saying that because the white spots or grey areas in both historiographies from the time of so-called socialism are present," Pendarovski said, according to whom the second reason for the ongoing tensions between the two countries is the upcoming elections in Bulgaria.
As for his proposal to issue a ban on the entry to his country to "one MP and other persons from Bulgaria", which he made after the Security Council meeting on Monday, Pendarovski said he did not mean the measure to be applied to those who claim that people living in North Macedonia are Bulgarians.
"Nowhere in the world is the persona non grata measure taken because of a political statement, at least not in democratic countries, and we claim to be a true European democracy," Pendarovski clarified.
He said he was referring to the spiral of events that have taken place in the last period, especially after the honouring of Mara Buneva on January 14 and the calls on the anniversary of Gotse Delchev for a large group from Bulgaria to arrive in Skopje, causing a counter-reaction in North Macedonia - "just come, on the other side there will be 1,000 Macedonians who will stop you from doing it".
"I assure you, there is prior information about many persons with bad intentions towards us and they will not be allowed to enter the country," Pendarovski said and expressed his expectation that Bulgaria would not encourage the arrival of organised transport on February 4 in Skopje, noting that he did not dispute "that Bulgaria has an interest in commemorating Gotse Delchev", and said he remained of the opinion that the 151st birth anniversary of the revolutionary would be celebrated "as befits a civilised democratic state".