Western Balkans come one step nearer to EU accession

Bulgarian MPs have voted to unblock the opening of talks with North Macedonia

On Friday, the Bulgarian parliament voted to raise the veto on North Macedonia’s EU accession talks, leaving a ball on Skopje’s facet.

Following Thursday’s summit between 27 EU leaders and 6 heads of presidency from the Western Balkans, the removing of the veto, associated to a longstanding cultural and linguistic dispute between Sofia and Skopje, was supported by 170 Bulgarian MPs, with 37 voting towards and 21 abstaining.

The choice was hailed as a “historic” one by Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. Writing on Twitter, he confirmed that the parliament authorised a French compromise proposal. The prime minister additionally confused that the “integration of the Western Balkans is the strategic curiosity of the EU.”

The nation’s International Ministry was additionally fast to reply to the information by saying that Sofia had not “added any new requests to Skopje” and was ready to approve holding the primary political intergovernmental convention as soon as North Macedonia signed the bilateral protocol.

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In line with parliament’s choice, nothing in North Macedonia’s EU accession course of may “be interpreted as recognition of ‘Macedonian language’ by Bulgaria.” Sofia additionally reserved the proper to dam Skopje’s EU bid talks sooner or later, if vital.

Now the parliament of North Macedonia should approve the French-brokered proposal earlier than the veto can really be lifted.

Nevertheless, on Thursday, North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski stated that “in its present type” the proposal was “unacceptable” for his nation.

Bulgaria imposed its veto in 2020 when North Macedonia, an EU candidate since 2005, together with Albania, have been set to start out negotiations with the EU. Sofia needs Skopje to formally acknowledge that its language and tradition are basically Bulgarian, to drop any anti-Bulgarian stance and to say a Bulgarian minority within the nation’s structure. North Macedonia has been refusing to meet these requests, saying that its nationwide identification isn’t up for dialogue. 

Because the accession course of can proceed solely beneath unanimous help, Bulgaria’s opposition successfully put a veto on the talks, which in flip put a halt to talks for Albania, since it’s subsequent in line after North Macedonia.