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A Macedonian court's decision to send a Macedonian resident with Bulgarian citizenship to jail is sparking mutual recriminations. Sofia complained about the alleged harsh treatment meted out to its citizens in Macedonia after Spaska Mitrova was sentenced to 3 months in jail earlier this month. This happened due to the fact that she would not let her ex-husband see their two-year-old daughter. Skopje claimed that there was nothing wrong with the verdict since the crime was committed in Macedonia. Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry rejected the Bulgarian reaction to the case, saying it was unreasonable and wrong.

 

 

Analysis and forecast: increasing risk

 

The decision of the Macedonian judicial authorities provoked sharp reaction from the new Bulgarian government who raised the question of treatment of Bulgarians in Macedonia in general. The Bulgarian government asked officially for explanation about the Macedonian court’s ruling and the possibility of handing a biased verdict due to ethnicity specifics. However, in general, that incident should serve as a warning sign about the common mood and inclinations of the new Bulgarian administration’s handling of certain foreign policy issues pertaining to its neighbors and Bulgarian minorities abroad. It seems that such issues will be met with harder response than that of the previous Bulgarian administrations and will be put as focus to governments’ priorities. These observations could be supported by the fact that Mr. Bojidar Dimitrov (ex-director of the National Historic Museum) was appointed as Minister without portfolio in Borisov’s government responsible for the Bulgarians abroad. Mr. Dimitrov is known to the wide public as a supporter of harder stance toward Macedonia and for his nationalistic policy views.