North Macedonia resolves dispute with Bulgaria to start EU membership talks

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Skopje: North Macedoniaon Saturday agreed to resolve the conflict with Bulgaria. The move has cleared the way for the long-pending European Union membership talks which will reportedly begin from July 19. The announcement in this regard was made by North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski.

“Finally, after 17 years, we are starting the process of accession negotiations with the European Union,” Kovacevski said as quoted by AFP. Notably, North Macedonian lawmakers approved an agreement to settle a dispute with neighbouring Bulgaria.

A total of 68 lawmakers out of 120 voted in favour of the agreement. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen congratulated North Macedonia on the move. She tweeted, “Congratulations to North Macedonia on the vote that now paves the way for opening the accession negotiations rapidly.” The EU chief further added, “It was a historic opportunity. And you seized it.”

Also Read: Bulgaria MPs approve lifting veto on N. Macedonia EU talks

The US also welcomed the decision by Skopje to pass the proposal. North Macedonia has been attempting to join the European Union since 2004. Until now, Bulgaria had been blocking North Macedonia and Albania’s bid to join the EU. However, last month, the Bulgarian parliament ended those objections. It put forward certain conditions.

As per the France-brokered deal, Skopje must include Bulgarians in its constitution on an equal footing with other peoples”. North Macedonia should also implement a treaty of friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation signed with Bulgaria in 2017. After North Macedonia’s passed the deal, protests against it erupted outside parliament in Skopje. The country’s main opposition nationalist rightwing VMRO-DPMNE party criticided the move.