Journalist Ponomarenko, Charged With Discrediting Russian Military, Returned To Pretrial Detention


SKOPJE — North Macedonia’s overseas minister, Bujar Osmani, has described Bulgaria’s choice to recall its ambassador to Skopje as “disproportionate” if it’s a response to a weekend assault on a minority Bulgarian within the metropolis of Ohrid.

Hristijan Pendikov, a Macedonian citizen who identifies as Bulgarian and is an worker of one of many Bulgarian cultural golf equipment in North Macedonia that some Macedonians regard as provocative, was attacked and overwhelmed final weekend in that Macedonian metropolis.

Sofia introduced the diplomatic withdrawal on January 25, with Bulgarian International Minister Nikolay Milkov saying it could stay in impact till Sofia sees indicators of change.

Relations between the Balkan neighbors have lengthy been strained by deep cultural, historic, and linguistic ties that spilled into the open three years in the past when Sofia invoked its veto energy to stall North Macedonia’s EU negotiations.

Sofia lastly agreed to withdraw the veto final yr however solely after barely reshaping the Macedonian EU accession framework.

The day after the assault on Pendikov, he was flown to Bulgaria on a Bulgarian authorities airplane to bear surgical procedure for his accidents.

Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski known as a gathering of the Safety Council on January 23, after which he stated he would ask the federal government to ban the entry into the nation of a number of Bulgarian residents he stated had been main a marketing campaign in opposition to North Macedonia and had been linked to Russian intelligence companies.

Osmani blamed the assault on Pendikov on particular person perpetrators and stated Macedonian officers had achieved all they might to answer the assault.

“The state instantly recognized the perpetrators, [and] certainly one of them is in custody,” Osmani informed the Macedonian Desk of RFE/RL’s Balkan Service on January 26. “There have been condemnations by the president, the prime minister, the minister of overseas affairs. I went to Sofia [and] we expressed what the state ought to present our residents, so I do not see what the connection can be between one case and the response.”

Milkov steered on Bulgarian state tv that Sofia would “evaluate” joint tasks with its North Macedonia and stated “issues can not proceed as they’ve been.”

He added that “issues have modified” between the neighbors.

Osmani rejected generalizations a couple of state’s habits based mostly on a single incident.

He additionally stated he thought the Bulgarian authorities’s actions had been associated to elections there scheduled for early April — the nation’s fifth in lower than two years.

“The Republic of Bulgaria is coming into the election course of,” Osmani stated, including {that a} political vacuum over the previous two years has been an “aggravating circumstance” with respect to “delicate points.”

He stated “the season of provocateurs, thugs, and political profiteers is open and now everyone seems to be in hassle.”

The European Fee is at the moment reviewing all 33 of North Macedonia’s accession chapters to find out what North Macedonia should obtain to organize to turn into an EU member.

Any current member state — together with Bulgaria — can veto the opening and shutting of such chapters in negotiations.

Bulgarian cultural golf equipment turned a flashpoint for tensions between the nations as their numbers and visibility elevated final yr.

Different current celebrations of historic figures have additional stirred tensions.

A big contingent of Bulgarian nationals is predicted to journey to North Macedonia to mark the 151st anniversary of the start of revolutionary Goce Delcev on February 4.

Earlier this week, the Macedonian authorities instructed the Inside Ministry to take measures to maintain the occasion secure.

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