North Macedonia and Albania Opened the EU Membership Negotiations
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, opened the first Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels regarding the launch of negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania for EU membership.
"Today, the RNM and Albania open negotiations for joining the EU. Your two nations have worked hard to get here - on the rule of law, on the fight against corruption, you have a free media, you have a good civil society, many reforms and a modernized economy. The EC has supported you all the way and will continue to do so," Von der Leyen said.
She announced that immediately after the Intergovernmental Conference, the commission and negotiating teams from the RNM and Albania will begin work, the screening of EU legislation will begin - the first stage of the process - and both parties will be able to familiarize themselves with EU laws and principles. This will all happen very quickly.
The second important point is working closely together with the EU in key areas.
"Albania will join the Civil Protection Mechanism, on which we started discussions earlier so that the EU can help in disasters such as earthquakes, etc. We will negotiate Frontex with North Macedonia, which will support the RNM in the field of migration. The contract will be translated into the Macedonian language, on the same level as all 24 European languages," said the President of the EC.
“The third point is that there will be gains as the negotiations progress – greater investment, better trade links, closer cooperation in key areas such as energy and transport. New jobs, new opportunities..." she added.
“After 17 years of waiting, from today we are opening new perspectives for the country and slowly but surely joining the big European family”. This was said by the Prime Minister of the RNM, Dimitar Kovachevski, at a press conference on the occasion of the first Intergovernmental Conference on the EU accession negotiations process of Albania and North Macedonia.
"We are continuing with the previous dynamic of inter-neighborly cooperation," Kovachevski said.
According to him, the French proposal is the best possible for the RNM, which respects most aspects and preserves the red lines, while giving a start to the negotiations.
"In it, and for us this is extremely important, the Macedonian language is specified, without any additions and additional explanations. This opens the door for our Macedonian language to become one of the official languages in the EU, which I personally consider the greatest achievement and most important success," he said. "In this way, the Macedonian language will not only be protected but will also bring many benefits - many nations and cultures that did not have access to it until now will now be able to get to know it. Also, our identity, which is authentic to us and our language, culture, customs and traditions, will remain authentic, Macedonian, and in the EU."
"I hope to be a positive example of the fastest integration in the EU, as we had the fastest integration in NATO. If the day is known in the morning, then this will certainly be a wonderful day," Kovachevski said in conclusion.
For Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama, "this is not the beginning of the end, this is the end of the beginning."
"But this is what we need to build a strong democratic Albania and a strong democratic open Western Balkans," he said at the first intergovernmental conference.
The press conference was also attended by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, whose country assumed the current EU Council presidency
The first Intergovernmental Conference between the two countries and the EU is considered the start of official negotiations.
Late last night, the 27 member states of the European Union agreed to start accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.
The holding of the first intergovernmental conference became possible thanks to the agreement reached between the authorities in Sofia and Skopje.
On Sunday, July 17, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Teodora Genchovska, and of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani, signed the Protocol of the Second Meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission, which was established on the basis of Article 12 of the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, and provides for annual reports on the progress made in its implementation, as well as setting priorities for each subsequent year. The contract itself, as well as the protocols under Art. 12 (the current one, as well as the one from 2019) were laid down at the insistence of Bulgaria, and in the Negotiating Framework itself, as the main criteria for the progress of North Macedonia. The reports on the progress itself, as well as on the implementation of the Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness and its derivative protocols, will be made by the European Commission, but the European Council will approve them, only with the consent of the Bulgarian side.
A key place in this year's approved protocol is the report on what has been done in the various areas and spheres of cooperation. Key, however, are the elements that concern the so-called "controversial topics", including those concerning the main element of the Treaty - the general history.
The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced last night that “any reference to the official language of the Republic of North Macedonia in official/unofficial documents/positions/statements and others of the EU and its institutions, bodies, services and agencies must be understood strictly in accordance with the Constitution of this country and should in no way be interpreted as recognition by the Republic of Bulgaria of the ‘Macedonian language’”.
The Bulgarian declaration states that "the Bulgarian literary language has six regional written norms (codifications). Three of them are based on dialects, and three on the literary Bulgarian language. The creation of the ‘Macedonian language’ in 1944-1945 in the former Yugoslavia was an act of secondary codification (re-codification) based on the Bulgarian literary language, further ‘enriched’ with local forms, thus simulating a ‘natural’ process based on dialectal form.
“Bulgaria continues to adhere to the language clause contained in the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation, signed in Skopje on August 1, 2017 between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, for the purposes of bilateral treaties/agreements/memorandums and others between the two countries."
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