Attempt to ‘normalize’ ties with Bulgaria sparks protests in North Macedonia: Peoples Dispatch

In recent weeks, massive protests have erupted across North Macedonia against efforts to normalize relations with Bulgaria under the dictates of the European Union (EU). Nationalists and the left are joining the protests, with the North Macedonian government accused of jeopardizing the country’s sovereignty by yielding to EU dictates to “normalize” relations with neighbors like Bulgaria and Greece in a bid to secure an EU to obtain membership. The Bulgarian government‘s attempt to uphold the country’s veto on North Macedonia’s EU accession has led to the ouster of pro-EU government Kiril Petkov as a coalition partner withdrew government support on the matter.

Opposition parties in North Macedonia, notably the Levica (Left), organized massive protests in the capital Skopje against the coalition government of the ruling Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) agreeing to talks with Bulgaria on the “Good Neighborhood Treaty”. instigation of the EU. Levica primarily opposes the government’s attachment to foreign interests, which she believes serve the ruling class’ fascination with EU membership.

The country’s nationalist sectors are outraged by Bulgaria’s demands for special status and rights for the Bulgarian minorities and nationals in North Macedonia, as mentioned in the Good Neighborhood Treaty.

In spite of After the fall of the government led by Kiril Petkov on June 22, the Bulgarian parliament voted on June 24 to lift the veto against North Macedonia’s EU accession and to continue the dialogue on the Good Neighborhood Treaty with North Macedonia. The main Bulgarian opposition party, the conservative Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), which vetoed North Macedonia’s EU accession talks during her government, backed the proposal. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) abstained.

On July 5, Levica stated: “People have loudly and resolutely said ‘no’ to this humiliating decision that the SDSM government is trying to spread among the Macedonian people with lies as a positive thing for Macedonia and manipulations that this is the last an opportunity for negotiations with the EU. This will not bring Macedonia any closer to the EU, the negotiating framework and the protocol do not guarantee this at any time – on the contrary, it leaves Bulgaria room to push us back with every new chapter with its veto right.”

“These ‘European values’ of humiliating, chauvinism and fascism towards smaller nations by hindering the possibility of self-identification through blackmail and pressure are not the values ​​we aspire to as a people and as an independent state,” Levica added.

Levica leader Dimitar Apasiev has condemned the government’s attempts to paint the demonstrators as rioters. He also accused pro-government parties of attacking anti-government demonstrations.

North Macedonia signed the Prespa Agreement with Greece on June 17, 2018 to withdraw Greece’s objection to North Macedonia joining the EU and NATO. As part of the agreement, Macedonia-FYROM (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) was renamed the Republic of North Macedonia to distinguish it from the northern Greek province of Macedonia. The agreement was contradicted left and nationalist sectors in Greece and North Macedonia. Nationalists in both countries condemned what they called the handing over of heritage associated with ancient Macedonia. The Greek Communist Party (KKE) denounced the deal as an imperialist ploy for NATO expansion in the region.

That’s what Levica in North Macedonia has criticized of the Prespa Accord, stating that it was ratified internally despite a failed referendum in the country and that a deeply criminal internal parliamentary process resulted in four constitutional amendments prompted by the accord. Levica has called for the cancellation of Prespa, not only because of the criminal and unlawful way it was passed, but also because of its violation of the principle of self-determination. Levica also called for the country’s exit from NATO. To date, Levica refuses to authorize the country’s official renaming to “North Macedonia”, preferring to use the title “Republic of Macedonia” as part of her protest.

In November 2019, On behalf of the Levica Presidium, Recep “Haktan” Ismail said mass mailing that the “only political offer of the country to the people of Macedonia in the last 30 or so years of post-socialist independence was the achievement of two goals: membership in NATO and membership in the EU. Demonstrating uncritical loyalty to these goals was a constant feature of all post-socialist post-1991 governments.

“During this period, with the help of foreign-funded media, civil society and public intellectuals, a pervasive hegemonic discourse was built around the following message – that membership in NATO and the EU is synonymous with prosperity and stability; that political elites need only provide membership in these organizations and prosperity and stability will automatically follow.”

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