President Ivanov promotes good-neighborly relations in interview with Bulgarian BGNES

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In an interview with Bulgarian BGNES news agency, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov says that besides on the migrant crisis, the two countries need to increase their cooperation in other areas, to face the joint threats with joint efforts. In the interview, President Ivanov recalls how Bulgaria was the first country to recognize independent Macedonia, and makes a plea for further improvement in inter-neighborly relations.

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“I wish to see Bulgaria as the leading supporter of Macedonia, to embrace Macedonia. We don’t have a linguistic barrier. We have many open issues from the past, but we can’t change our history. We also can’t change our geography. We will remain neighbors forever. We are a reality, we’ve been an independent state for 25 years. We want to have open and honest relations with good neighborly ties and friendship with all neighbors”, President Ivanov tells BGNES in an interview.

Speaking about the migrant crisis, where Macedonia was turned into a major transit country, while Bulgaria fears that it might  see the route move on its territory, President Ivanov says that he is in regular communication with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. “I proposed Prime Minister Borisov to have Macedonian and Bulgarian Ministers, from the Army and the police forces, jointly examine the border between Kulata, Belasica and Kozuf, and to examine the terrain, where we can hold a tactical exercise. To display to those on the other side that we are organized countries and we can protect our borders. We may have open issues, but when a crisis like this one, it needs to take priority, and we need to have cooperation between the institutions”, Ivanov adds.

Speaking about Macedonia’s handling of the migrant crisis, President Ivanov says that the country was among the first ones to deploy the army on the border. “We realized that the European style concept of integrated border management can’t handle this crisis on its own. Our example was followed by other countries, which realized that the border needs to be protected, that obstacles need to be put in place, with wire fences, thermal cameras, sensors, that we need to control this influx of illegal trafficking. We have somewhat slowed it down, but we must continue moving forward, as we are likely to be exposed to migration waves throughout our lives. This will not stop. All of Africa is on the move, as is Central Asia. They all want to reach Europer, which is the lifestyle superpower”, President Ivanov told BGNES, adding that the closure of the Balkan route is a message for the economic migrants from African and Asian countries, but that if the route is re-opened, millions would follow along