The Bulgarian Cultural Center in North Macedonia was Set on Fire

The “Ivan Mihailov” Cultural Cente after the fire @Facebook
04.06.2022 / 12:40

Early this morning, the “Ivan Mihailov” Cultural Center in the town of Bitola, in the Republic of North Macedonia, was set on fire.

The incident happened in the early hours of the day. "We expect all competent institutions to reveal the perpetrators of this act of vandalism as soon as possible," was written on the Facebook page of the “Ivan Mihailov” Cultural Center. They expect "the perpetrators to take full responsibility for what happened."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodora Genchovska will visit the place of the incident and will hold a conversation with the representatives of the association. This was announced by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the incident related to the burning of the front door of the Cultural Center "Ivan Mihailov" in the town of Bitola, Republic of North Macedonia.

On June 4th and 5th, Minister Genchovska will pay a working visit to the Republic of North Macedonia at the invitation of her counterpart, Bujar Osmani. The visit is aimed at continuing the dialogue between the ministries of the two countries on open bilateral issues related to the implementation of the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation. The talks will also focus on issues related to the European integration of the Republic of North Macedonia.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Northern Macedonia strongly condemned the act of deliberate burning at the entrance of the “Ivan Mihailov” Association in Bitola. This vandalism is another proof that there are many actors who are against the progress in the relations between North Macedonia and Bulgaria and our common European future," the statement said, quoted by RNM media. "This crime was not committed by chance on this day, when the two countries will establish a dialogue to overcome open issues on the path to European integration of North Macedonia. The competent authorities of the country are making efforts to identify the perpetrator of this act of vandalism," said the Foreign Ministry in Skopje.

We recall that after the official opening of the Cultural Center two months ago in RS Macedonia, a massive anti-Bulgarian campaign was launched, in which government officials and a representative of state institutions in Skopje also took part.

In April, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov visited the town of Bitola in the Republic of Northern Macedonia, where he took part in the official opening of the “Ivan Mihailov” Cultural Center club. Prime Minister Petkov's visit was the first visit of a Bulgarian prime minister to Bitola.

At the invitation of the “Ivan Mihailov” Cultural Center, Vice President Iliana Yotova also took part in the event.

The choice of the club's name provoked angry reactions among Macedonia's political elite, including President Stevo Pendarovski, who said "naming a cultural site after a proven World War II fascist regime contributor" did not help the rapprochement between Sofia and Skopje.

“The opening of clubs of the Bulgarian community is absolutely indisputable in the Republic of North Macedonia. The Bulgarian community has this opportunity, freedom and encouragement to organize and manifest its cultural and identical attributes in any form, but not in a way that provokes or disturbs other citizens”, said then RNM Foreign Minister Buyar Osmani.

“What is controversial in this case is the choice of name, as Ivan Mihailov's personality is considered contradictory and provocative. Otherwise, the country's leadership would also be part of the event.”

"Of course, one of our assumptions was that the visit to the center, which bears a controversial name here, may have hidden motives, and that is that the dispute is a dispute over human rights and that the Bulgarian community does not enjoy its rights here, and that we do not meet the Copenhagen criteria," Osmani said.

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