Bulgaria and North Macedonia Signed the Protocol to the Good Neighbour Agreement

Politics » DIPLOMACY | July 17, 2022, Sunday // 12:38
Bulgaria: Bulgaria and North Macedonia Signed the Protocol to the Good Neighbour Agreement Bulgaria's resigned Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodora Genchovska (right) and North Macedonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bujar Osmani (left) @BGNES

The foreign ministers of Bulgaria and North Macedonia signed the bilateral protocol to Art. 12 of the Treaty of Friendship, Good-Neighbourliness and Cooperation.

The document will form part of Skopje's negotiating framework for EU membership and contains measures for the history, hate speech and culture curricula.

After the signing ceremony, the resigned Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodora Genchovska, noted that at the meeting of the intergovernmental commission this morning, progress was reported in all five sector groups.

"Bulgaria is the country that most strongly supports the European integration of the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania. From here on, we wish them success on the path they have long wanted to take. I hope that with joint efforts and our support, they will reach where the citizens of the RNM most want to reach, namely, membership in the EU," said Genchovska.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani, emphasized that from today the relations between the two countries are going to a new level.

"For us, it is a historic opportunity that after 17 years of candidate status, the Republic of North Macedonia can start negotiations with the EU from tomorrow and start the last phase of our accession to the EU. We expect support from Bulgaria because this is in our interest, not only for the citizens of North Macedonia, Bulgaria is also interested in the accession of the Western Balkans," added Osmani.

With 68 votes "in favor", the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia yesterday gave the green light to the government to adopt the so-called "French proposal". The decision passed with the votes of the ruling Social Democratic Union of Macedonia and the Albanian parties from the government and the opposition. It is through this procedure, after Skopje and Sofia sign a bilateral protocol, that North Macedonia's negotiation framework with the EU can be approved.

In practice, however, the first intergovernmental conference will not be the actual start of negotiations between Skopje and Brussels. This will happen only when the authorities in Skopje change their Constitution and include Bulgarians on an equal footing with the rest of the nationalities.

In the course of future negotiations, the European Commission will monitor whether the issues of good neighborliness are respected, and Bulgaria will be able to veto at any time.

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Tags: north macedonia, Bulgaria, friendship, EU
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