Bulgaria cannot yet approve the EU negotiating framework for North Macedonia
We have a chance to reach an agreement on the negotiating framework for the membership of the Republic of North Macedonia in the European Union, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva said at a briefing on November 3.
"There is still a chance that we will agree on a negotiating framework. It is not a long time, but the fact that the German Presidency is committed gives good indications. It would be mostly to the detriment of Skopje if they did not want to fit into the framework. There are countries in the EU that are not so well-disposed to expand the Union's borders," Ekaterina Zaharieva said after a meeting with the Minister for European Affairs and the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia in Berlin.
Yesterday she was in the German capital, where a discreet meeting with representatives of the government of the Republic of North Macedonia took place at the invitation of the German presidency of the Council of the EU. North Macedonia and Bulgaria must settle their differences by November 10th.
"We are making progress on the open issues. For the short name, it is important that they declare that it is not related to territorial or minority claims. As regards language, there also is convergence of positions," the Minister commented on the negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia on the approval of the country's bid for membership in the European Union.
"There is a breakthrough. I thank the German Presidency for the initiative. But we are not there yet to say "Yes", said Minister Zaharieva.
The Macedonian side systematically violates the good-neighbour agreement, creates obstacles for Bulgarian investments, does not take steps to overcome hate speech, the minister said.
"We are benevolent, but we cannot make concessions that will continue to lead to an anti-Bulgarian campaign, this is the position of the Bulgarian government," Zaharieva was adamant.
A few days ago, Ekaterina Zaharieva told Reuters that Bulgaria is losing patience over what it sees as North Macedonia’s reluctance to implement a friendship treaty, which the prime ministers of the two countries Boyko Borissov and Zoran Zaev signed in 2017.
In an interview for Reuters (October 31), Ekaretina Zaharieva said that North Macedonia should recognise that both its national identity and language have Bulgarian roots.
Bulgaria, which focused its first period as the EU’s rotating presidency in 2018 on the swift accession of western Balkan nations to the 27-member bloc, could veto the formal launch of accession talks with North Macedonia next month unless the two sides can resolve the issue.
Bulgaria is losing patience over what it sees as North Macedonia’s reluctance to implement a friendship treaty the two countries signed in 2017.
As a way out, it is proposing backing the formal start of accession talks if Skopje acknowledges that its identity and language have Bulgarian foundations, thereby ending any claims that there is a distinct “Macedonian” minority in Bulgaria.
“Our concerns come from the never-ending claims for a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. The acknowledgment of Bulgarian roots would put an end to this,” Zaharieva told Reuters.
If North Macedonia agrees, Zaharieva said Sofia was ready to recognise Macedonian as one of the official languages of its neighbour and acknowledge a Macedonian identity.
“We are not disputing their right for self-determination, neither their right to call their language what they like. We are ready to re-confirm the current realities, but they have to acknowledge the historical truth,” she said in the interview for Reuters.