Bulgaria capitals

North Macedonia seeks support for deal with Bulgaria to unblock EU accession talks

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BLOOMBERG) — The government of North Macedonia has said it is starting consultations to find support for a European Union proposal to pave the country’s path to the bloc.

The start of the Balkan country’s membership talks has been blocked by neighboring Bulgaria over a long dispute involving history and language. Bulgaria, which also wants guarantees for the rights of its nationals in North Macedonia, last week approved a mechanism which, under certain conditions, will allow the government to lift its veto on the enlargement negotiations.

North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski will hold talks with political leaders and present the EU proposal, which aims to satisfy both sides’ demands, to parliament, he told reporters in the capital Skopje. , Friday, July 1.

“We have a proposal that incorporates our notes and our clearly stated positions,” Kovacevski said. “In order to build an official position as a country, we have today launched a broad consultation process.”

If he finds support for an agreement with Bulgaria, the two countries will sign a protocol that will guide them in resolving historical and cultural differences. It could also unlock EU talks with Albania, another Balkan candidate.

The EU-backed deal aims to dispel doubts among Balkan countries that the bloc is still committed to enlargement amid concerns over Russia’s growing influence in the region.

Their fears of being left behind have only intensified since the start of the war in Ukraine, prompting EU leaders to advance a decision to endorse both Ukraine and the Moldova as candidates for membership.

North Macedonia has encountered many obstacles on its way to Western integration. She had to change her official name to settle a dispute with neighboring Greece before joining NATO in 2020.