North Macedonia's president on Wednesday said the country wouldn't compromise its identity and accommodate a demand from Bulgaria that has held up talks to join the European Union.
EU-member Bulgaria has blocked accession talks with North Macedonia and wants its neighbor to formally acknowledge that its language has Bulgarian roots.
"Membership in any international organization has no value if you are asked to give up your identity," North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski told parliament in an annual address.
The tiny Balkan nation joined NATO earlier this year after overcoming a protracted dispute with another neighbor, Greece – changing its name to address concerns in Athens over potential territorial ambitions.
The EU recently warned Bulgaria that it risks undermining security in southeast Europe if it continues to block the membership talks. [AP]