EU Ambassador: If North Macedonia Does Not Change the Constitution, the Accession Process Stops
“The Republic of North Macedonia must fulfill the obligation it undertook towards Bulgaria - to change the constitution. Otherwise, the joining process stops”. This was stated by European Ambassador David Geer in an interview with the Macedonian Channel 5.
According to him, it is relatively normal for there to be differences in the accession documents of North Macedonia and Albania, and progress in the negotiations depends only on the given country.
"In this case, it comes down to this, last week we had the so-called intergovernmental conference, with which we started the process. Now we have started the screening process. At the end of this process, Macedonia will have the second intergovernmental conference, and in order to hold it, it has to fulfill the obligation, which it undertook towards Bulgaria - to change the constitution in order to have a clear definition for the persons and citizens who identify themselves as Bulgarians, in defense of the constitution itself," explained Geer.
Regarding the change of the Macedonian constitution and what will happen if it does not happen, the European ambassador emphasized that then the most likely scenario is that the process stops there.
"Changing the constitution is a sovereign decision of this country. But the country already has a good track record in inter-ethnic relations and if this change is made, it will further consolidate the progress made in this area. If the change in the constitution does not happen, I would say that the most likely scenario is that the process will simply stop there. In other words, the screening will continue until a certain point and then it will stop pending state action," Geer said, clarifying that it was not because a third country vetoed, but because the state itself has decided to abandon its obligations regarding this issue.
He explained that there are two phases to the screening process. The first phase is called Explanatory Screening and this is when the European Commission together with Macedonia and Albania look at the whole process and see what needs to be done during this process. Then there is a second phase or Bilateral Screening, which he says is very structured and intensive and which can take a total of 14 to 16 months and in which the European Commission looks at the norms and the legislation in force in Macedonia and in Albania, looks at the gaps, identifies where these gaps must be filled and determines what metrics must be met to progress.
"There is a lot of work, a lot of reforms before the country becomes a full member of the EU," Geer concluded.
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