talk, but not negotiate. This is the exact definition of the genre of what is happening in jointand Expert Committee on historical and educational issues, established under the Treaty of Amity, Neighborhood and cooperation between the two countries. Because of the work of the Commission at least absent some mandatory elements, characterizing some mazhdudarzhavni talks.
On first place -
what exactly negotiate.
In other words, no clearly fixed, mutually agreed and adopted subject to negotiations. The story sets the thematic area of negotiations, but by itself does not fix their agenda. It is worth mentioning, at the beginning of the work of other similar bilateral commission for more than a decade - Bilateral Commission on the outstanding issues between Bulgaria and Turkey, coordination issues discussion took more than a year due to disagreement on the Turkish side at all to include in the agenda the issue of compensation for Thracian refugees. And after this agreement was finally fixed in the agenda, This question could no longer be avoided.
this, which is done at the time inventory of historical events and personalities. As a natural at such an approach, the list can never be exhaustive, and judging from public information topics for each subsequent meeting was agreed during talks. Such work "piece" may have its tactical rationale, if it is assumed, that after agreeing on common positions on individual pieces will form a coherent whole. In practice, however, the probability to achieve the opposite effect and to block the work of the commission is greater - as is happening now with disagreements regarding Gotse Delchev.
The logical approach, by which interested Bulgaria, to go from general to private. Task of the Commission should be the definition of "common history", enshrined in the Treaty: what it means, what period covers, when history is now divided (if this happens after 1878 g. and whether in fact 1903 g. and after the Balkan Wars and World War - as claimed by Macedonian historians, or that period begins only after the Second World War?). Solving this problem would naturally razstavilo historical figures and events of their exact location.
Nay, an intergovernmental commission can not be editorial board. She can not edit the history books of both parties. The contents of these books will be a function precisely by achieving understanding of the period of shared history. As even this will not prevent other scientific interpretations of individual historians in Sofia, and in Skopje.
Secondly, judging by everything
Bulgarian delegation to negotiate without a mandate.
No Information Council of Ministers has approved negotiating positions on the issue. And they are absolutely necessary, when it comes to national interests. Sure, contents of this mandate can not be publicly, but its presence should be clear. Commissioners do not protect personal opinions during talks. Nor can form government positions based on their own opinion - even if they are united in it. As this mandate should set as targets, and within the possible compromises - ie. red lines, Beyond that Bulgarian delegation can not retreat.
Third, is the question of the timing and results of operations of the commission. As a joint body, created by a decision of the two governments, naturally achieved arrangements to be fixed in contractual form and
Commission to complete its work with interstate agreement.
With full knowledge of all the difficulties on the way to achieving it, if this is not the ultimate goal of the Commission's work, then questioned the meaning of its existence. The work of the Commission can not be endless and should have its horizon. It is inevitably linked to the possible start of negotiations of the Republic of Northern Macedonia to join the EU - as far as a prerequisite for EU membership is the absence of outstanding bilateral problems with neighbors. Nay, the absence of an act of mutual agreement may compromise the dialogue process, creating further tension in bilateral relations.
The mere bilateral agreement Neighborhood illustrates the importance of fixing any agreements legally binding document. The contract, apart from everything else, was designed to answer another important problem for Bulgaria - this
for the sake of our neighbor.
Bulgaria from the beginning was not party in name dispute. But that does not mean, it did not follow the process. When more than a decade emerged both realistic Greek-Macedonian compromise - Northern Macedonia or Upper Macedonia, Bulgarian diplomacy took a wait, and seek preventive solutions. Taking into account the possible negative reaction in the country, Bulgaria sought safeguards against possible territorial claims, Associated with new name, namely in the signing of the relevant international legal document, in which the Macedonian state takes unilateral commitment (rare enough in international relations) non-interference in the internal affairs of Bulgaria. Which has a much higher value than statements of any Macedonian president or prime minister, as we are often reluctant to ask.
Other question, which is not subject to the Commission's work, but falls indirectly in the field of its action through the prism of education is
the problem of language.
This is the next difficult problem, to which Bulgaria will face. Because of the booth for transfers in Brussels behind north-Macedonian delegation will have the inscription "Bulgarian language", and EU documents, for Skopje, also will be on literary Bulgarian. In official bilateral relations problem already has its accepted by both parties: the declaration of the Prime Ministers of 1999 g. it is written, she's signed on "official languages of the two countries - Bulgarian language, under the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and Macedonian language, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia ". This text is reproduced in the Treaty of 2017 g. This formulation, however, is inapplicable in multilateral formats. And the Bulgarian government must quickly digest and formulate a national position on this issue, taking into account both Bulgarian origin of language, and its natural evolution and purposefully away from roots in recent decades.
All these problems, however, stem from the uncertainty over a basic question, which continues to receive unequivocal public response. It's about what the
strategic objectives and interests of Bulgaria
relative to its neighbor. As often obscures long-term goal is the instantaneous emotion. Any public row between the two capitals powered and work in favor of Macedonism, creates contradictions and conflicts. Macedonism has an interest in erecting barriers and splits. Its purpose is to distinguish and oppose. while in Bulgarian interest is to remove all barriers between the two countries and Bulgarian citizens feel in Skopje at home, but North Macedonia to feel the same way Sofia. Bulgarian strategy should be aimed at removing barriers and to clear the outstanding issues through dialogue within the normal political talks. To have the most positive relations between the two neighboring friendly countries, NATO members, and in the future - and EU, after the accession of the Republic of Northern Macedonia to the European Union. It is high time for Bulgaria to stop thinking about Macedonia as a territory, but as people and citizens.
* As Deputy Foreign Minister author has coordinated preparation of the draft contract with (then) Republic of Macedonia, and he led the Bulgarian negotiating team in the Bilateral Commission on the outstanding issues with Turkey.