Bulgaria vetoed the decision to open EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia on Tuesday (17 November), a move which indirectly also affects Albania, another Western Balkans candidate which has advanced on its EU path in tandem with Skopje.
The decision is hardly surprising. The Bulgarian Parliament unanimously adopted a tough declaration in October 2019, warning North Macedonia that Sofia will not tolerate the distortion of historical events, documents and artefacts, as well as the role and views of personalities from Bulgarian history.
The former Yugoslav republic, which was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the mid-14th until the early 20th century, insists on its own version of history, based on events from Bulgaria’s medieval and more recent history. A bilateral historic committee was set up under the terms of the 2017 friendship treaty to sort out problems of interpreting common history. Both sides have since accused the other of not allowing any progress.