Bulgaria Blocks North Macedonia’s EU Accession Negotiations

Politics » DIPLOMACY | November 7, 2020, Saturday // 08:54
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Blocks North Macedonia’s EU Accession Negotiations

Bulgaria informed the European Commission that it is unable to accept the currently proposed negotiating framework for the Republic of North Macedonia and the draft declaration to it, as it does not provide the necessary guarantees for the fulfilment of the conditions Bulgaria seeks, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry announced on November 6.

Later, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev accused Bulgaria of violating Article 2 of the Neighbourhood Agreement, according to which Bulgaria must support the European path of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Bulgaria informed the European Commission today that it is not able to accept the currently proposed negotiating framework for the Republic of Northern Macedonia and the draft declaration to it, as it does not provide the necessary guarantees for the fulfilment of the conditions set by our country.

This was officially announced by our Foreign Ministry. Later, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev accused Bulgaria of violating Article 2 of the Good Neighbour Agreement, according to which Bulgaria must support the European path of the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

There are not enough guarantees in the negotiating framework that the Republic of North Macedonia will respect good neighbourly relations in the future, is the official Bulgarian position stated by Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and Bulgarian diplomats in Brussels. On Tuesday, Zaharieva pointed out that since its signing in 2017, the Good Neighbour Agreement has been systematically violated by the Republic of North Macedonia.

The three most important conditions that Bulgaria insists become a written part of the negotiating framework are: good neighbourly relations to be a criterion for the Republic of North Macedonia's membership in the EU; to use the official constitutional name of the Republic of North Macedonia instead of the short North Macedonia and the wording for the language should be the "official language" of the candidate country, not Macedonian.

Zoran Zaev - Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia: "We have the first blockade by Bulgaria. Today, Article 2 of the agreement was violated, we have not violated anything so far. This is the first unpleasant feeling. We must be reasonable and resolve the dispute in a friendly way."

Zaev said it should not be dramatized, although signals from Sofia are not positive. He reiterated, however, that no new agreement or annex would be concluded, and that this was an explanation that could be given in the form of a statement, in writing or orally, with the ultimate aim of moving things forward.

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry responded with an official statement.

"For Bulgaria, it is unacceptable for our conditions for the Republic of North Macedonia to be set in a declaration of the Council of the EU, accompanying the negotiating framework. The declaration is not a legally binding instrument and does not provide the legal guarantees sought by Bulgaria. We would have such guarantees if our requests were reflected in the text of the Negotiating Framework, which we insist on ... "

In the communication, Bulgaria thanked the German Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Warhey for the constructive approach and daily joint work in search of a solution that is still possible to reach despite the short deadlines.

Zoran Zaev also expressed his gratitude today for the support of Germany. The meeting of the EU General Affairs Council, at which the topic will be discussed again, is on 17 November.

The events of the annual meeting of the member states of the Berlin Process will take place next week. This year it is chaired jointly by Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia./BNT

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