Slow sober up? Perceptions of the citizens of the foreign policy after the Bulgarian “No” to the start of the negotiations

• The percentage of citizens who believe that the international position of the country is stronger
today compared to last year has significantly decreased, while the share of citizens who believe that it is the
same compared to last year has significantly increased. At the same time, the optimism for the future is also
dropping, which is visible in the reduced percentage of citizens who believe that the international position will
improve, as well as the increase in the percentage of citizens who believe that the position will remain the
same in the future. These data are an indicator of the reduced trust of the citizens in the foreign policy of the
country, the basis of which was 1) the settlement of the bilateral disputes, in order to 2) start the membership
negotiations with the Union. With the Bulgarian opposition, and after the time spent for adoption of the new
methodology, there is a certain level of tiresomeness and a feeling of disappointment which is visible among
the citizens.
• After the entry into force of the Prespa Agreement at the beginning of 2019, the percentage of citizens
who believe that there is a country or an international organization that poses a threat to our country has
stabilized at about one third of the citizens. This is visible in the data for 2019 and 2020. However, in 2020,
the vast majority of suspicious citizens (78% of them) identified Bulgaria as a “hostile country”, whereby
it replaced Greece as a country in which the citizens see a threat. This striking fact is due to the sense of
injustice produced by the Bulgarian opposition to the start of negotiations.
• Serbia, which traditionally ranks high on the list of countries that Macedonian citizens (especially ethnic
Macedonians) identify as friendly, this year holds the first place of friendly countries. The excellent ranking
can be due to the 1) vaccine diplomacy, 2) disappointment with Bulgaria, 3) the popularity of President Vučić
in our country based on the perception that he pursues a policy of equidistance and non-alignment with any
of the major powers (EU, USA, Russia and China) in the interest of his country.

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