Five days after a scandal erupted following a publication by the Slovenian IFIMES institute that referred to Bulgaria and Germany as “mafia states interested in Nazism”, the government of Northern Macedonia issued a statement last night following a call from the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Deputy Ambassador to give explanations.
In its response, the Government of Northern Macedonia notes that it considers it “inappropriate to call our Deputy Ambassador to Sofia, Vladimir Krtsevski, for explanations to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the views expressed by a third party, in a an analysis that is currently government-related and which was prepared by the Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana. “
The Government of Northern Macedonia confirms that IFIMES was hired as a well-known consulting institute based on policy analysis for preventive diplomacy and confidence-building measures at the regional and global level, however its contract expired in 2019. For two years now , the institute has not been in any way related to the work of the government nor is there any legally binding obligation with the government and the office of the Prime Minister.Even before 2019, IFIMES never participated in the analysis of the relations between Northern Macedonia and Bulgaria “, Reads the announcement of the Government of Northern Macedonia.
“Therefore, Northern Macedonia remains committed and open to intensive talks and friendly dialogue, in order to find solutions as soon as possible to promote the improvement of relations between Skopje and Sofia and build our common future.” in the EU through common bases. We are waiting and will start with friendly behavior and relations from both sides, so that sooner rather than later we can conclude with Bulgaria that we have found a solution in which there is no loss and that we are facing the challenges of new era together as soon as possible. ”
Authorities in Sofia were outraged by a report released by IFIMES, with the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry summoning diplomat Krstevski to explain whether the Skopje government is linked to the institute’s campaign.
According to a report by the BGNES Agency, the announcement by the Northern Macedonian side condemns the publications of the institute. The press release is another unsuccessful attempt to cover the exact period during which the government in Skopje had a contractual relationship with IFIMES.
However, according to BGNES, the official website of the Government of Northern Macedonia states that “IFIMES had a contract with the executive branch in Skopje from 2017 to 2020, for which it received 1,000 euros per month. Meanwhile, three representatives of the institution are advisers to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. ”
According to BGNES, after the scandal broke, some European publications deleted not only the latest but also previous editions of IFIMES. Two of IFIMES ‘honorary presidents describe his posts as defamatory to serve Serbia’s state security and President Vucic, with whom IFIMES chief and former Zoran Zaev adviser Zijad Becirovic shares a close relationship.
By order of Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, the interim head of the Northern Macedonian Embassy in Sofia was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain whether the Skopje government was involved in the slander campaign against Bulgaria conducted by the International Institute for the Middle East. and Balkan Studies (IFIMES). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its strong concern about the publications, with the former current advisers to the Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia who participated in the management of this institute.
“It simply came to our notice then. We have a black and white contract between the government of Northern Macedonia and this so-called institute in Slovenia. Information about their relationship is public. It can be found on the government website in Skopje. He also shows the amount for their three-year contract, which is paid by the cabinet of Northern Macedonia. He also lists the names of three people working for the institute who were advisers to the prime minister during his previous term, “said Ekaterina Zaharieva last night on the occasion of the publication of IFIMES.
IFIMES wrote in its analysis that the Bulgarian authorities are promoting unreliable data, as Macedonians are of Bulgarian origin and that Northern Macedonia should make an official statement that the Macedonian language and identity hold Bulgarian roots.
“It is inconceivable that in the 21st century, the state of Bulgaria, a full member of the EU and NATO, would question the identity and language of the neighboring people of northern Macedonia,” the Slovenian Institute commented.