World

Macedonia, Bulgaria sign historic pact to cool old rivalry

Macedonia and neighboring Bulgaria have signed a historic friendship agreement designed to dampen a historic rivalry in their region that is still at odds over old ethnic and territorial disputes.

The deal, in which both countries have renounced territorial claims against each other and Bulgaria commits to backing its smaller neighbor's bids to join the European Union and NATO, was warmly hailed by EU and German officials.

Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Bulgaria's Boiko Borisov signed the agreement Tuesday in Skopje, where Borisov is on a two-day visit. It says neither country will engage in or back hostile acts against the other. It also calls for a committee to re-examine their common history.

Bulgaria historically regarded Macedonians and their language as a branch of the Bulgarian nation and language.