Nationalist victory in North Macedonia elections signals trouble for Bulgaria –

Recent developments inside North Macedonia indicate a further decline relationships of Bulgariawith the presidential elections serve as a litmus test for sentiment towards Bulgaria within the country. The victory of nationalist opposition candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova in the first round of voting signals a potentially more antagonistic attitude towards BulgariaThis contrasts with incumbent President Stevo Pendarovski’s already tense relationship with Bulgaria.

Pendarovski’s presidency was marked by tensions Bulgaria, marked by accusations of intimidation of Bulgaria’s Macedonian minority. However, compared to Siljanovska-Davkova and her VMRO-DPMNE party, Pendarovski’s position seems relatively moderate. Siljanovska-Davkova and VMRO-DPMNE have adopted an aggressive anti-Bulgarian stance, using rhetoric denouncing Bulgarian influence and Treaty of Friendship Good Neighborhood and Cooperation.

The tense relationships between Bulgaria And North Macedonia have been a major obstacle to this North Macedonia‘Accession negotiations to the EU. The ‘French proposal’, which seeks guarantees North Macedonia regarding anti-Bulgarian rhetoric and the treatment of citizens with Bulgarian self-consciousness, has blocked the progress of negotiations for almost two years. Despite efforts to address these issues, the rhetoric persists North Macedonia continues to portray Bulgaria as an obstacle to European integration.

The growing popularity of VMRO-DPMNE and the disappointing performance of the ruling SDSM party North Macedonia signal a shift towards more confrontational rhetoric towards Bulgaria. Campaigns for upcoming elections in North Macedonia are likely to exploit anti-Bulgarian sentiment, further straining bilateral relations.

The future trajectory of Bulgaria-North Macedonia relationships remains uncertain, with the possibility of further deterioration looming. As political tensions continue to escalate, efforts to bridge the divide and promote cooperation between the two countries face major challenges.