President Gjorge Ivanov Calls on Bulgaria to Embrace Macedonia

Diplomacy | March 25, 2016, Friday // 14:24|  views

President of the Republic of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov. Photo: EPA

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov called on Bulgaria to embrace its southwestern neighbour Macedonia.

In an interview for BGNES news agency published on Friday, Ivanov said that he wants Bulgaria to be Macedonia's most fervent supporter.

The Macedonian president noted that there is no language barrier between the two countries and not being able to change history and geography, Bulgaria and Macedonia are destined to be neighbours forever.

Commenting the migrant crisis, Ivanov said that he has personally handed to Bulgarian Prime Minsiter Boyko Borisov maps of the new routes used by the smugglers.

In view of the tens of millions of migrants exerting pressure on Europe, he stated that there is need for closer cooperation in averting the risks posed by them.

He said that he has always distinguished between the humanitarian aspect of the crisis and the security issue which has been neglected.

In his words, economic migrants and foreign fighters had made use of the refugee influx to enter the EU.

According to Europol, at present there are between 2000 and 5000 people in Europe who have returned from conflict zones.

Ivanov insisted for enhancing cooperation between the security services and stepping up the exchange of information and data.

Asked whether there is a threat of the refugee flow being redirected to Bulgaria after the closure of the Western Balkan route, he said that the border between Bulgaria and Greece should be put under control.

He explained that cards in Arabic depicting Bulgaria as a transit corridor through which migrants could pass on their way to Serbia or alternatively through Romania and Hungary to Poland, have appeared after the closure of the Western Balkan route.

In his words, one of the routes passes through Kulata border checkpoint, while the other one is a corridor across the Black Sea to be used in warmer weather.

Ivanov added that if one of the routes is closed, another one will be opened, saying that there are maps depicting alternative routes through Albania and Italy.

He welcomed the agreement between the EU and Turkey on the return of migrants, saying that it should be respected and implemented.

The Macedonian president noted he had met with his Bulgarian counterpart Rosen Plevneliev in Baku, where they had discussed the issue and agreed on joint actions.

In a telephone conversation with Borisov, Ivanov proposed a joint meeting between the defence and interior ministers of the two countries. Among the other proposals were establishing joint border control and conducting joint training between the armies and police forces of the two countries.

Reminding that Bulgaria was the first country to recognise the independence of Macedonia, he expressed his desire for sincere and good neighbourly relations with all neighbours.

Ivanov said that he has invited Plevneliev to visit Macedonia, pointing to the need of more personal contacts to enhance cooperation and increase mutual trust.

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Tags: Bulgaria, macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, Rosen Plevneliev, Boyko Borisov, migrant crisis, migrants, smugglers, refugee influx, EU, turkey, refugee flow, greece, Kulata


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