North Macedonia and Bulgaria vow to avoid clashes over national hero

North Macedonia and Bulgaria vow to avoid clashes over national hero

The interior ministers of North Macedonia and neighboring Bulgaria met Monday to discuss security arrangements ahead of weekend celebrations to honor a 19th-century revolutionary viewed as a hero in both countries.

Oliver Spasovski held talks with Bulgaria’s Ivan Demerdzhiev amid fears of potential clashes by opposing nationalist groups.

The commemoration events in North Macedonia’s capital Skopje will mark 151 years since the birth of revolutionary Gotse Delchev, who opposed Ottoman rule in the Balkans that ended after hundreds of years in the early 20th century.

North Macedonia and Bulgaria are at odds over multiple issues concerning ethnic minorities, language and national identity – disputes also common in other parts of the region.

Sofia held up its neighbor’s bid to join the European Union, but dropped its opposition to accession talks last year after receiving a pledge on minority rights.

The two ministers Monday promised cooperation to avoid any potential violence.

“We will not allow certain people and certain threats to ignite a fire between the two nations,” Bulgaria’s Demerdzheiv said. “Everything will be in the best possible order.” [AP]

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