Prime Minister Stefan Yanev: Two enormous tragedies struck Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia today; a day of national mourning for the people who lost their lives


“Today is a day plagued with two enormous tragedies. Bulgarians lost their lives last night in an accident in an old people’s home in the village of Royak in Varna region. A few hours later, another tragedy occurred: a road crash of a coach plated in the Republic of North Macedonia took a heavy death toll of over 40 passengers. The tragedies are shared. The tragedies make us empathic, regardless of the nationality of the persons who are no longer with us.” This is what Prime Minister Stefan Yanev said when he met the media after his meeting with Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, in the Council of Ministers, concerning the tragedy of this morning on the Strouma Motorway.

Prime Minister Stefan Yanev was firm that the only thing that can be done at this moment is to express deep condolences and sympathy to the families and friends and relatives of the dead while the Bulgarian government and all its agencies that are in charge of safety, disaster management and investigation of this type of accidents operate fast and onsite. “While investigation on the Strouma Motorway is ongoing, Deputy Prime Minister Galab Donev is on his way to Dulgopol so as to consider possibilities for additional assistance to the survivors from the old people’s home“, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister noted. Stefan Yanev added that survivors from the coach crash on the Strouma Motorway were hospitalized in the emergency hospital Pirogov where they received adequate medical treatment.

“Just as Prime Minister Zaev had the opportunity to see them, so I talked with the people injured before him. The general conclusion of the medics is that their bodily injuries are relatively slight while it is early to talk about the psychic shocks. We hope that in a day or two the injured can safely be transported where they want to be and rejoin their families,” Bulgaria’s Prime Minister said. Prime Minister Stefan Yanev underlined his coordination with Prime Minister Zaev since the early hours of today. Coordination is in place between all institutions in charge in Bulgaria and in the Republic of North Macedonia in order to help trace the causes for the tragedy. “We hope the investigation will teach us the proper lessons that will prevent recurrences of such incidents in the future,” Stefan Yanev said further. Bulgaria’s Prime Minister pledged that the findings of the investigation would be made public straightaway; however, for the time being, the specialized authorities should be left to do their work and to come up with versions of the accident.

Prime Minister Stefan Yanev added that a decision was being considered to have a day of mourning when Bulgaria would remember the victims.

“On this day we should show empathy and, first and foremost, turn to our deep human roots that underlie our good neighborly relations with the Republic of North Macedonia,” Prime Minister Yanev said in response to a question from the media about the relations between the two countries in the context of the unfortunate accident. “As to whether and how the relations and talks between the two countries will progress vis-à-vis the EU membership of the Republic of North Macedonia, I have always declared that I believe in dialog and in the honest and open way in which we communicate with the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia. This spirit of openness has been leading in our approach in recent months, as I believe this is the way to find a mutually acceptable solution that is in the interest of the citizens of both countries,” Stefan Yanev said.

“Bulgaria lost nine lives in yesterday’s fire in the old people’s home; the Republic of North Macedonia lost 46 lives, among them children and young people, in a horrible tragedy that struck the Macedonian coach homebound from Istanbul,” said Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, as he spoke to media in the Council of Ministers and expressed his condolences on the loss of lives suffered by both countries.

Mr. Zaev said that some minutes after the accident he had been informed about the tragedy personally by Prime Minister Stefan Yanev and President Rumen Radev. “Together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Health we are here to meet the survivors who are in hospital and also to meet the Bulgarian authorities so as to be informed about the details and to get all available information about the accident,” said the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia. Mr. Zaev added that cooperation to clarify the causes for the accident is at top level: between the presidents of the two countries, between the two prime ministers and between the institutions and agencies in charge in Bulgaria and in the Republic of North Macedonia.

“Mutual confidence in the institutions is high and so we will best serve our citizens as we communicate to them all the investigation findings as needed. Because the pain on both sides is strong – for both nations, for the families who lost their beloved ones,” Mr. Zaev said as he pointed out that today’s meeting of the cabinet of the Republic of North Macedonia is about to take a decision to declare a day of mourning.

“We are together in good times and in bad times. We are the closest neighbors, we are fraternal peoples and we must help each other always,” Prime Minister Zaev said. As he answered a question from a reporter who asked how the tragedy would impact bilateral relations, Mr. Zaev stressed the positive message that both countries and their institutions convey as they help each other and work together: “We are here to help each other in hard times and to share our happiness in good times,” Zoran Zaev said further.