Bulgarian Deputy PM and Defence Ekaterina Zaharieva said in an interview for Bulgarian web portal 24Chasa.bg that the goal of Sofia is not to negatively affect the bilateral relations between Skopje and Belgrade. “This trend did not stop in the past 30 years, and Belgrade still has great influence in Skopje, with tendencies for bringing them closer to the Serbian language, institutions and business sector. However, our goal is not to tear them apart. Let them be friends. Let us all be friends. Still, it seems we have some things to sort out with North Macedonia. This is the 21st century we live in, and it is not good for one to try to win elections based on incited hatred towards a neighbouring country and its people,” Zaharieva said. PM Zoran Zaev rebuffed the election-related claims promoted by Zaharieva, saying that official Skopje always tends to conduct bilateral communications with careful and diplomatic narrative. “The election we held and won in July 2020 were a clear proof that one does not have to incite hatred towards Bulgaria or any other nation to win elections in our country. I expect that all neighbour will treat us friendly, just like we act towards them,” Zaev said, announcing that the FMs of Macedonia and Bulgaria, Bujar Osmani and Ekaterina Zaharieva respectively, will meet in the upcoming period in order to arrange and schedule the second inter-governmental conference of Macedonia and Bulgaria, at which an Action plan for further implementation of the Good-neighbourliness Agreement is to be adopted.