Issued on: 24/06/2022 – 14:20
Bulgaria’s parliament on Friday approved lifting the country’s veto on opening EU accession talks with North Macedonia, an issue high on the agenda of an ongoing EU summit in Brussels.
“The decision is adopted with 170 votes in favour, 37 were against and 21 abstained,” parliament deputy speaker Atanas Atanasov said after the vote.
The proposal paves the way for the government to unblock the start of negotiations in exchange for EU guarantees that North Macedonia will meet Bulgaria‘s demands on long-running historical and linguistic disputes.
The decision says that North Macedonia must include Bulgarians in its constitution “on an equal footing with other peoples”, sign a bilateral protocol and “effectively implement” a 2017 treaty of friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation, ending hate speech.
“Ultimately, it is in our interest for the Western Balkans, for North Macedonia and Albania, to receive a perspective to join the EU,” Hristo Ivanov, the co-chairman of the right-wing Democratic Bulgaria party who proposed the motion, said during the debate.
“Today’s decision allows us to link our demands with the fundamental European values and standards,” he added, urging parties “not to miss this good chance” to resolve the issue before France’s EU presidency ends on June 30.
“Know that we are doing the right thing… The strongest instrument for pressure is the negotiations process itself,” Ivanov said, adding that Bulgaria will be able to better defend its interests during the talks.
Bulgaria was the first country to recognise its neighbour’s independence after North Macedonia broke from the…