On May 6, MEP Andrey Kovachev, the chairman of the Bulgarian Memory Foundation Dr Milen Vrabevski and several other Bulgarian citizens were stopped at the border and denied entry to North Macedonia. They were supposed to participate in a memorial service at the military cemetery near Novo Selo, commemorating the Bulgarian soldiers who died in the battles for national unification.
Bulgaria’s caretaker Foreign Minister, Ivan Kondov, told a media briefing on May 10 that this is an unprecedented act and Bulgaria will inform the European institutions about the non-admission of the Bulgarians to North Macedonia.
Kondov said the memorial in Novo Selo was one of four war cemeteries that Skopje had agreed to restore. Bulgarian soldiers rest there. This commemoration is part of the tradition, there have been no problems so far, it has not caused controversy and Andrei Kovachev himself has participated in the memorial services several times.
In the notifications that the border authorities of North Macedonia have handed over to the Bulgarian citizens, it is explicitly stated that they are on a banning list in the Republic of North Macedonia border system.
“The Foreign Ministry is in the process of informing all our partners about this unprecedented act, which does not coincide with Skopje’s declared intention to work for good neighbourly relations and its commitments. Formal letters from the President, from the Speaker of the National Assembly and from me will be sent to the EU institutions,” Kondov said.
Yesterday, the Foreign Minister summoned the North Macedonian ambassador to Bulgaria, Agneza Popovska, to a meeting at the Foreign Ministry. Her explanation, as well as the announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the RNM, is at odds with the notification served by the border authorities, Kondov said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassador of North Macedonia over Bulgarians not being allowed entry in the country
“We are witnessing attempts to silence the voices of the Macedonian Bulgarians by making baseless accusations, by pressuring them with lawsuits, demonizing them in the media and social networks,” he added.
In the meeting with Popovska, Bulgarian caretaker Foreign Minister asked for information about what these “black lists” are, whether they exist and what are the criteria for Bulgarian citizens to be included in them.