Bulgaria Reaffirms its United Position on North Macedonia
The meeting of the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC), convened by Bulgarian President Rumen Radev last night, has ended. Bulgaria reaffirms its position towards the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM) - that the EU membership negotiations should not be bound by deadlines but by concrete actions in implementation of the 2017 Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness and equal treatment of Macedonian Bulgarians.
The NSAC discussed the prospects for the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU. Particular attention was paid to the stagnant RNM integration process. It was found that “four years after the signing of the 2017 Agreement, the candidate country has not done what is necessary for its implementation and does not provide a guarantee for the implementation of its commitments," President Radev said.
Thirty years ago, on January 15, 1992, Bulgaria was the first in the world to recognize today's Republic of North Macedonia as an independent state, Radev reminded. Our country has never denied and does not deny the right of the citizens of the RNM to self-determination on the basis of their own self-awareness, as well as to use their languages according to the constitution of their country.
“At the same time, Bulgaria maintains the position of granting rights and full equality of Macedonian Bulgarians with the rest of the peoples in the RNM by explicit writing in their constitution. The rights of Macedonian Bulgarians are a key element of the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership, they cannot be negotiated and their protection is explicitly stated in the Declaration of the National Assembly of 2019," the president said.
The ten-year policy of discrimination against Macedonian Bulgarians, 120,000 of whom are Bulgarian and EU citizens, has recently escalated into open public attacks, Radev stressed.
"The participants in the NSAC agreed that comprehensive, targeted, and well-resourced actions are needed to restore trust and intensify bilateral cooperation between Bulgaria and the RNM in all areas of mutual interest," the president said.
Of particular importance are projects providing transport, digital, and energy connectivity, with a focus on Corridor 8.
The following proposals have been accepted:
- In conducting the internal policy, the Council of Ministers to observe the national position of Bulgaria, observing the requirements of the Treaty in 2017, the Framework Position of 2019, and the declaration of the 44th National Assembly;
- Giving consent for the start of negotiations for the accession of the RNM to the EU should not be bound by deadlines, but by real results, especially with regard to the Macedonian Bulgarians;
- The executive branch should continue to work on reporting on the implementation of the 2017 Treaty in the negotiation process for RNM membership in the EU;
- The Executive Power to prepare and provide an action plan with measures to achieve tangible progress in all areas of bilateral relations;
- The Executive branch to propose to the RNM partners the establishment of joint working groups in areas in accordance with the 2017 Agreement.
- The Executive branch should take measures to accelerate the construction of Corridor 8 together with RNM and Albania, as a single project - highway, railway, energy, and digital connectivity.
- The National Assembly should propose to the RNM legislature the establishment of a structured dialogue between friendship groups and parliamentary committees, which would strengthen trust and support the overall process.
The NSAC also reaffirmed Bulgaria's position on Albania - that the country is ready to start negotiations for membership in the European Union.
All participants in the NSAC united around the position to intensify the dialogue between Bulgaria and the RNM, which in the last few years has stalled at all levels - business, economy, infrastructure, energy projects.
The meeting of the NSAC took place a few days before the planned visit of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to Skopje on January 18th, where he will meet with the future Prime Minister of our southwestern neighbor Dimitar Kovachevski.
Kiril Petkov promised the creation of four more working groups to the failing historical commission, as well as an air connection Sofia - Skopje.
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