Bulgarian officials have welcomed the agreement between neighboring Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to resolve a long-standing dispute over the latter country’s name. But they warned that the deal should not be used for future territorial claims in the region.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that FYROM's new name, Republic of North Macedonia, “opens the way for the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of our neighbor.”
Bulgaria was one of the first countries to recognize FYROM in 1992 after it declared independence from Yugoslavia. But relations between Sofia and Skopje were strained for years over issues of identity, language and history.
A positive breakthrough in the relations was reached last year with the signing of a bilateral friendship pact in a region beset by ethnic and territorial disputes. Under the treaty, both countries have renounced territorial claims against each other, and Bulgaria has committed to back FYROM's bids to join the European Union and NATO. [AP]