Bulgaria capitals

Bulgarian Petkov meets Kovachevski in Skopje: ‘First step forward in a new chapter’

Cordial tone reigned between Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and his North Macedonian counterpart Dimitar Kovachevski at a press conference after their talks in Skopje on January 18, as they underlined their joint commitment to a positive new beginning in bilateral relations.

Petkov was the first head of government to visit North Macedonia after Kovachevsky was elected prime minister on January 16, and Kovachevsky thanked him for keeping his promise to do so.

The visit of the Petkov-led delegation comes a week before a planned joint meeting of the Bulgarian and North Macedonian governments in Skopje on January 25, as well as the establishment of joint working groups in key policy areas.

“With Prime Minister Petkov, we have found common ground for mutual respect,” Kovachevsky said, describing his Bulgarian counterpart as his “dear friend” and assuring him that “here you will always feel among friends “.

Kovachevski said that one of the most important issues for the Republic of North Macedonia is the country’s European integration.

This was a reference to a background of disputes between the two countries in recent years, including on historical issues, which led Bulgaria to stand on the path of North Macedonia starting talks of EU membership.

Kovachevsky said that together with Petkov “we want to use the new energy to achieve a common goal, for a better future for both countries.”

He described the day’s meetings as “the first step into a new chapter”.

The January 25 meeting between the two governments will establish new stages of cooperation in a number of areas, Kovachevsky said.

Petkov said the working groups would meet weekly “with clear goals, with clear outcomes, not just political statements.”

“I can assure you that I am very optimistic about our joint actions and you will see results every week,” he said.

Petkov said an air link between Sofia and Skopje would become a reality, and within 30 days there would be exact details about it. Since taking office in mid-December last year, Petkov has lamented the lack of direct air and rail connections between the two capitals, calling it incomprehensible.

Kovachevsky said the working groups – on trade, infrastructure and transport links, education and culture and European integration issues – would include not only politicians but also representatives from different sectors. He said the working groups would report to the public on their achievements and results.

The two prime ministers stressed that the approach would be to seek common ground, including within the joint historical commission.

Kovachevsky said his country had sent a note verbale to the United Nations stating that the name “North Macedonia” applied to the country and not elsewhere in the region. The note stated that the country had no territorial claims on any other.

He and Petkov agreed that it was acceptable for Bulgaria to use this name to refer to their country.

Petkov, whose delegation includes Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Transport Minister and Vice President Kristian Vigenin, was also due to hold talks on January 18 with North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski, Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi and leaders of political parties represented in Parliament.

(Main photo: government.bg)

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