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Bulgaria and Greece to Macedonia: If you want membership in the EU and NATO, respect history

The countries in the Balkans must respect history and develop good neighbourly relations if they want to join the European Union and NATO, concluded Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and his Greek counterpart, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, at their meeting in Athens yesterday.

Radev’s visit to Athens comes at a time when the focus of the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkans is growing. Sofia has previously officially announced that one of the main points of its chairmanship of the Council of Europe in 2018 will be exactly the enlargement of the Union.

Pavlopoulos, according to the Bulgarian news website “Vesti“, stressed that it is necessary to work on creating a strong and united Europe and that Greece supports the entry of countries from the region into the EU and NATO. However, he noted that there are conditions to be met and that neighbouring countries should respect international law and European achievements. He also accused Turkey of not respecting cultural and historical values.

“Lacking respect for history, civilization and culture already sends us bad signals. One can not ignore the disrespect of a world cultural heritage site such as the church “Hagia Sophia”, said the Greek president, referring to last week’s Koran reading at the temple in Istanbul.

The Bulgarian President has a similar stance, and stressed that without mutual respect for history, negotiations with the EU can not begin.

“Both Greece and Bulgaria support these countries and will continue to support them, but they need to fulfill the conditions for membership. Very important conditions for the Balkans are good neighborly relations and mutual respect for history. They should be a compulsory requirement for starting membership negotiations”, said Radev.

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