“When Greece, traditionally among Russia’s closest friends in Europe, expelled two Russian diplomats last month for trying to wreck a deal with the neighboring Republic of Macedonia, it exposed Moscow’s deepening frustration at President Vladimir Putin’s loss of influence in a key strategic region.

Russia’s being squeezed out of the Balkans by the expansion of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, leaving the Kremlin with diminishing clout in southeastern Europe. There’s little chance of reversing that trend, according to four people in Moscow familiar with its Balkans policy.

‘NATO membership of course is bad for us,’ said Leonid Reshetnikov, a former head of Russian foreign intelligence who also served as an agent in Greece and the Balkans. ‘What can we do? They are clearing this territor’ of rival influences, he said.” (Bloomberg)

“Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and his counterpart from the Republic of Macedonia Zoran Zaev held their second joint commemoration on August 2 2018 of the 1903 Ilinden–Preobrazhenie Uprising.

The meeting of the two government leaders in the Bulgarian town of Blagoevgrad also marked the first anniversay of Borissov and Zaev signing the treaty of good neighbourliness between Bulgaria and Macedonia, subsequently ratified by both countries’ parliaments and which came into effect in February 2018.

Borissov and Zaev held talks before heading to Blagoevgrad’s Macedonia Square to pay tribute at a monument to Gotse Delchev, the VMRO leader who died in a clash with Ottoman forces in May 1903 while involved in the planning of the coming uprising.” (Sofia Globe)

“President Gjorge Ivanov devoted much of his speech to the Agreement with Greece in his address for the occasion of August 2 – Ilinden Uprising at Mečkin Kamen in Krushevo.

‘It is a lie to say that with the Greek agreement, the 74-year-old right for self-determination and statehood of the Macedonian people is not being respected. On the contrary, this agreement with Greek erases the state-legal continuity of the ideal of the Macedonian people to have their own state. The 27-year history of the independent Macedonian state will also be deleted.'” (Meta)