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INTEGRATION FM Osmani: Stakeholders will continue trying to find common ground with Bulgaria

Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani did not disclose on Saturday steps to be taken in the next three days to find common ground in the dispute with Bulgaria, but stressed that stakeholders won’t give up trying to find a solution.

According to FM Osmani, North Macedonia and Bulgaria have achieved progress on 7-8 issues that were of high importance for either side.

“We have three more days and we’ll work until the very last moment to prove that EU integration is important not only for North Macedonia, but also for Bulgaria and all other Union members, as well as for the organization’s credibility and regional dynamics,” Osmani told a news conference.

He added that stakeholders have in the past three months been communicating at all levels in order to find a solution to the dispute.

At the moment, he stressed, there’s not particular initiative, noting that government top officials make all decisions together with other relevant stakeholders.

According to North Macedonia’s top diplomat there’s still room to explain that the country’s short name isn’t a reference to the historical region of Macedonia, as well as to discuss other issues.

“That’s how we’ll find common ground, but we can’t predict that this will be enough to resume the EU process. It’s not up to us, we’re doing everything in our power. The EC’s report on North Macedonia was excellent and the country’s been named the best candidate in the region,” Osmani noted.

He said that no one can expect that longstanding difference will be resolved in three days, but hopes lie in restoring trust in the process started in 2017.

Moreover, Osmani refused to comment on possible conclusions of Tuesday’s EU General Affairs Council meeting and on Bulgaria’s position, stressing that North Macedonia’s stance is clear and aims to guarantee friendship, good-neighbourliness, mutual respect and implementation of treaty provisions as the sole mechanism for overcoming differences.

Regarding work of bilateral commissions of historians, he noted that the agendas for the next five meetings, set to take place in 2020 and 2021, have been established and expressed hopes that they will be adhered to.

“As always, we encourage commissions, as a treaty instrument, to meet as much as possible, enter discussions and find common ground that will bring us closer together. The only way to overcome differences is by restoring trust in the Friendship Treaty and its instruments,” Osmani told the press briefing.

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