Zaev sees a deal with Bulgaria by the end of the year, says his Bulgarian colleagues privately acknowledge terms such as “Macedonian language”

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At the opening of the Economist conference in Skopje, Zoran Zaev said that he sees a large increase in the chances to resolve his dispute with Bulgaria after the elections in both countries. Zaev insisted that the EU assured him that issues of national identity and the Macedonian language won’t be used as road-blocks by Bulgaria.

Odds to have the blockade lifted will go up by 50 percent after the elections. A solution between (North) Macedonia and Bulgaria will be a strong message of encouragement to all of the Western Balkans, considering what is happening in Montenegro, Kosovo or elsewhere. Personally, I believe that it is possible to have a solution by the end of the year, Zaev said.

Zaev also added that privately, his Bulgarian interlocutors freely use the terms “Macedonian language” and “Macedonian people”, but can’t do so publicly before the elections.

I understand why politicians can’t promise solutions by the end of the year because elections are coming. But we continue with our work, Zaev said.