Bulgarian parliament opens possibility for North Macedonia to join EU

Bulgarian parliament opens possibility for North Macedonia to join EU

The Bulgarian Parliament has given Kiril Petkov’s outgoing cabinet a mandate to approve a French proposal allowing Sofia to lift its veto at the opening of negotiations for North Macedonia’s accession to the EU on Friday 24 June.

The decision, taken after several hours of debate with 170 votes for and 37 against, throws the ball into the camp of Bulgaria’s northern neighbor, whose Prime Minister has already indicated that he would not accept the proposal.

As expected, those who voted in favor of the proposal are the deputies of the party “We continue the change” of Mr. Petkov, the GERB of former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and of Democratic Bulgaria, the small centre-left party which is the author of the proposal.

Those opposed are the pro-Russian Vazrazhdane (Renaissance) party and Slavi Trifonov’s populist “There is such a people” party, which recently quit Mr Petkov’s coalition government. The Socialists (BSP) abstained.

MPs from Vazrazhdane and “There is such a people” called the new majority a “servants of foreign forces”.

The French proposal incorporates Bulgaria’s conditions for resolving bilateral issues in the Skopje negotiation framework, with the European Commission being the guarantor of their implementation. This compromise became known as “French proposal” because it intervened during the French presidency of the Council of the EU.

The Bulgarian National Assembly has laid down the following conditions:

  • Refining the text of the Council’s conclusion in order to guarantee the inclusion of Bulgarians in the constitution of North Macedonia;
  • The clarification that nothing in the negotiation process can be interpreted as an acknowledgment by Bulgaria of the existence of the Macedonian language;
  • The guarantee that good neighborly relations remain a horizontal criterion throughout the negotiation process.

“On this basis and only under these conditions, the 47th National Assembly will expect the Council of Ministers to approve the draft negotiation framework simultaneously or after the signing of the minutes of the second meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on neighborhood agreement »indicates the decision.

On Thursday, Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski said the French proposal was unacceptable to his country.

In a Facebook post, he insisted:

  • Clear wording regarding the Macedonian language and the protection of Macedonian identity;
  • Historical issues cannot be criteria in negotiations;
  • Negotiations between North Macedonia and the EU must begin before the constitutional change which would recognize Bulgarians as an ethnic minority group;
  • Clear guarantees that Bulgaria will have no further demands;
  • Any decision regarding negotiations with the EU must be consulted by the institutions of North Macedonia.

He said that North Macedonia insists on the inclusion of the Macedonian language in the framework of the negotiations with Brussels in order to receive guarantees for the protection of the Macedonian identity, and that the unresolved questions of the common history should be left out of the negotiations.

Speaking in Brussels on Thursday at a press conference alongside his Albanian and Serbian counterparts, Mr Kovačevski said: “In its current form, it is unacceptable for me, the citizens, the coalition partners, the president, the entire Republic of North Macedonia. »

He added : “The 27 nations, countries, they [ont rejoint l’UE] proudly with diversities, full respect for each other and all linguistic, cultural and historical issues, none of these issues were contested by the 27 member states when they joined the EU. That’s what we want, nothing more, nothing less. »


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