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.
Media briefing to present the 🇲🇰 🇧🇬 Protocol signed tdy in Sofia 👉 an overview of the political dialogue and the sectoral cooperation for the implementation of the Treaty on Friendship, Good neighbourliness and Cooperation paving the way for the start of the 🇪🇺accession talks pic.twitter.com/Xyt2DNibl4
— Bujar Osmani (@Bujar_O) July 17, 2022
“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.
🇲🇰 opened 🇪🇺 chapter in relations w/ neighbouring 🇧🇬. #Bulgaria is becoming our partner&ally in the #EU integration process, Treaty of Friendship&Good Neighbourly relations is already taking a new spirit, building solid foundation to continue the dialogue in a positive atmosphere pic.twitter.com/Bb87RgPoHv
— Bojan Maricikj (@Bojan_Maricikj) July 18, 2022
While the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria tweeted that “Bulgaria will continue its support for the European Union part of Macedonia.”
— Minister Teodora Genchovska (@TGenchovskaMFA) July 17, 2022
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.
🇲🇰 Congratulations to North Macedonia on the vote that now paves the way for opening the accession negotiations rapidly.
It was a historic opportunity.
And you seized it.
A big step on your path towards a European future. Your future.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) July 16, 2022
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.
Today’s vote in @SobranieRSM paves the way to holding intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia next week.
A crucial step for 🇲🇰 and for 🇪🇺
Our future is together and we welcome you with open arms.
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) July 16, 2022
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.