Macedonia Agree to Improve relations With Bulgaria


Macedonia on Tuesday signed a deal to mend relations with neighbouring Bulgaria in a bid to speed up its NATO and European Union accession after a decade of setbacks.
The landlocked Balkan nation has attempted to join the EU since 2005 but its lingering dispute with Greece whose northern province bears the same name as the former Yugoslav republic has torpedoed Skopje’s efforts.
The agreement signed on Tuesday by Macedonian and Bulgarian leaders represents a milestone in Skopje’s foreign policy after its conservative VMRO-DPMNE party left office in December after 10 years in power.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev praised the “historic” deal and Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov said it “shows to EU that turbulent Balkans, which has passed through a lot of troubles, could solve problems by agreements without mediators.”
As part of the deal, a research team from both countries have agreed to examine the content of school textbooks.
The two countries have also agreed to open a train line from Sofia to Skopje. Macedonia’s bid to join the EU and NATO has been blocked for some time by Greece.
Athens says the country should not call itself Macedonia because Greece’s northern province bears the same name, and in 2008 vetoed Skopje’s attempts to join NATO. Greece claims a historical right to the term Macedonia because the heart of Alexander the Great’s ancient kingdom lies in its northern province of Macedonia.


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