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Sofia trip sparks hope of improved Bulgaria-North Macedonia relations

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By Euronews  with AP, EBU
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Bulgaria's PM Kiril Petkov (L) and North Macedonia's PM Dimitar Kovacevski (R) stand for the national anthems during a welcoming ceremony in Skopje, Jan. 18, 2022.
Bulgaria's PM Kiril Petkov (L) and North Macedonia's PM Dimitar Kovacevski (R) stand for the national anthems during a welcoming ceremony in Skopje, Jan. 18, 2022.   -   Copyright  Boris Grdanoski / AP

The new leaders of Bulgaria and North Macedonia are meeting in Sofia in a fresh sign of improved relations between the two countries. 

Kiril Petkov welcomed his North Macedonian counterpart Dimitar Kovačevski to the Bulgarian capital on Monday as part of a two-day visit. 

Both have recently been appointed prime minister of their respective countries. 

The previous Bulgarian government had blocked North Macedonia's ambitions to join the European Union over history and identity issues. 

It had wanted North Macedonia to formally recognise that its language has Bulgarian roots and to stamp out what it says is anti-Bulgarian rhetoric.

But now with new governments in place, there is renewed hope of closer ties. 

Petkov welcomed Kovačevski at an official ceremony in Alexander Nevski Square on Monday, where both heads of government laid wreaths at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and the Monument of the Saints Cyril and Methodius.

In just a week this is the second significant event for improved relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia.

The prime ministers had agreed to increase efforts to improve ties during Petkov's visit to Skopje on January 18.