Sofia, 18 July 2022 (TDI): The Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Teodora Genchovska, and the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani signed a bilateral agreement on 17 July in Sofia; the capital of Bulgaria.

This move came after the North Macedonian Parliament approved a resolution to resolve disputes with Bulgaria. The Macedonian Parliament’s approval of the French proposal led to the bilateral protocol between the two countries.

“Bulgaria is becoming our partner and ally in the EU integration process,” the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia, Bojan Maricikj wrote on Twitter about this latest development.

While the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria tweeted that “Bulgaria will continue its support for the European Union part of Macedonia.”

North Macedonia backed French Proposal

On Saturday the Macedonian Parliament approved the French proposal. French President Emmanuel Macron presented it, which aimed to solve the dispute between the two countries.

Out of 120 members, 68 voted in favor of the agreement. However, opposition parties did not participate in the voting. According to the French deal, Macedonia has to amend its constitution to recognize the Bulgarian Minority.

In addition, other issues are to be resolved through direct talks between Sofia and Skopje. In return, Bulgaria will allow North Macedonia to continue accession talks with the EU.

“It was a historic opportunity. And you seized it.” The Head of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

European Council’s President, Charles Michel called it a crucial step and said the future of the two countries and the EU is together and the EU welcomes them.

North Macedonia’s EU Membership

North Macedonia applied for EU membership in 2004 after thirteen years of independence from Yugoslavia. In 2005, European Union gave candidate status for Macedonia.

The use of the name “Macedonia” was a source of dispute between Greece and North Macedonia till 2019. United Nations negotiated between the two countries.

As a result, Prespa Agreement was signed on 17 June 2018.  After the resolution of this agreement, an accession talk was initiated between the EU and North Macedonia as well as Albania in March 2020.

Unfortunately, Bulgaria blocked the accession talks in November 2020. Nevertheless, On 24 June 2022, Bulgaria’s Parliament approved lifting the country’s veto. Consequently, the talks between North Macedonia and the EU were renewed.

On 16 July, the North Macedonian Parliament approved the French Proposal presented by the French President which paved the way for negotiation between the EU and North Macedonia. Hence, North Macedonia will start European Union accession talks on July 19, 2022.