North Macedonia’s EU integration
The EU high foreign and security policy representative, Josep Borell, told the Bulgarian national radio that no obstacles exist to North Macedonia’s entry into the European Union. When asked by the Bulgarian National Radio what will be the next steps if, by November, North Macedonia does not recognise in its constitution the existence of an ethnic Bulgarian minority and does not include the Bulgarians in its basic law as a state-creating nation as provided for in the so-called French proposal to start negotiations for accession to the European Union, Borrell responded: “North Macedonia is progressing well, and from a European side, there is nothing that would block its accession to the EU. The European principles and standards will be strictly respected in this approach. Good cooperation is definitely necessary for this. Regional cooperation remains an essential element and stabilisation to implement the accession process. But the bilateral issues will not be binding and will not determine the accession process.“
This statement points to the not-very-good bilateral relations between Bulgaria and North Macedonia and gives North Macedonia hope to start accession negotiations despite the blocking by Bulgaria at the EU level and indicates a possible common approach of EU countries on this issue. Regarding the constitutional changes in North Macedonia, Defense Minister Slavjanka Petrovská said that to conduct any talks, both parties, SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE, must have clearly defined positions. The position of SDSM, Petrovská emphasises, has been clear and unchanging from the beginning, which cannot be said about VMRO-DPMNE.
“SDSM’s position has been clear and unchanged since the first day. We are ready for constitutional amendments, which mean a continuation of the EU path, but unfortunately, we can’t say the same about VMRO-DPMNE. First, they need to state if their proposals are their final answer because they started off by saying they don’t accept the constitutional amendments, only then to say they do. As a citizen, my question and dilemma is, what is contentious about these constitutional amendments, considering it is Bulgaria itself that asks that the Bulgarians are included as a minority within the Constitution of North Macedonia, thereby dismissing the thesis that we are a single people living in two countries. If the inclusion of the Bulgarians is unacceptable for VMRO-DPMNE, then I worry whether they agree with this thesis about a single people in two countries,” said Petrovska.
We can consider positive that Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski spoke on the phone with the new Bulgarian Prime Minister on Friday, Nikolay Denkov, and congratulated him on his mandate.
Kovachevski and Denkov agreed that a constructive approach and further cooperation are needed, of which both prime ministers are convinced. A constructive approach is expected by the citizens of North Macedonia and Bulgaria, as well as the region, the European Union, and international partners.“ Only this way can both sides allow a shift in bilateral relations and a closer integration of North Macedonia into the EU.