It seems that the atmosphere between Bulgaria and North Macedonia regarding the accession of North Macedonia to the European Union has cleared up. There is talk of resolving mutual political and cultural differences. This is why the European Commission is resuming talks with Bulgaria on the admission of North Macedonia as a future member of the European Union.
This was said by the European Union’s foreign affairs coordinator, Josep Borrell, during a visit to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. There he spoke with President Stevo Bendarovsky and Prime Minister Dimitar Kovashevsky, among others.
North Macedonia has been a candidate for membership since 2005.
According to Borrell, the climate between the two Balkan states has improved. “Internal disputes should not stand in the way of the accession process,” he said. “We will continue to talk until all obstacles are removed,” he added.
North Macedonia has not yet achieved rapid accession. The process is now at the stage of initiating accession negotiations. Neighboring Bulgaria has always objected to this, but there appears to be a change in Sofia’s position.
Under former Prime Minister Borisov, Bulgaria did not recognize Macedonian as a language, calling it a Bulgarian dialect. Nor did it recognize the ethnic Macedonians in the border region as a separate population group.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said last month that he supports North Macedonia’s desire to join the European Union as soon as possible. New governments have recently taken over in both countries. Steps have been taken towards cooperation in the economic and tourism sphere, and the atmosphere seems to have faded politically as well. “Bulgaria is the country most supportive of your joining the European family,” Radev said at a meeting of Bulgarian residents’ organizations in North Macedonia.
Radev also wants political differences to be resolved and history education to be concerned with common ancestors. Because, in his view, this is crucial to the relations between the two countries. For a long time, Bulgaria did not recognize the Macedonian minority in the border area with the neighboring country.
Bulgaria went to the polls three times last year for parliamentary elections, and each time it failed to form a new government. After the November elections, Kirill Petkov of the new We Will Continue Change party replaced Boyko Borisov as prime minister. Borisov, 62, was in power for 12 years, at a time when corruption and nepotism seemed to take precedence over sound economics and the resolution of political differences. A path that Petkov wants to radically change.
Petkov, 41, is 20 years younger, a Harvard graduate and Western-minded. When he took office in December, he said he no longer wanted to prevent North Macedonia from joining the European Union. Therefore, he will enter into talks with conservative forces in Bulgaria and with North Macedonia itself, in order to resolve cultural differences.
Greece used to be a problem for a long time, because of the name Macedonia. The northernmost province in Greece is also called by that name. The former Yugoslav Republic then changed its name to North Macedonia in 2019.
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