INTEGRATION Germany reaffirms support for N Macedonia’s EU talks; Sofia urges emotions to calm down

Germany has reaffirmed the support for the EU opening of negotiations with North Macedonia. Also, Bulgaria has called for emotions to call down before Sofia and Skopje start seeking solution for which restoring trust is required, noting that likely change of power in the country after the March elections wouldn’t change Sofia’s position regarding its differences with Skopje.

On Wednesday, German Ambassador Anke Holstein said that the opening of accession talks of the EU with North Macedonia should take place and that she hoped it would happen this year.

“There’s no alternative. North Macedonia has met all the required conditions,” the Ambassador said after handing over a donation consisting of vehicles and equipment for the border police.

In the weeks to come, Holstein said, it is very important North Macedonia and Bulgaria to cooperate in those areas and segments where there are no differences of opinion, which will prove that there is good cooperation.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva in an interview with Sofia-based newspaper ‘Trud’ said Bulgaria brought enlargement into the focus of the European Union, but it proved impossible for it, at this stage, to approve North Macedonia’s EU negotiating framework.

Therefore, she added, Skopje and Sofia need to calm down to find a solution.

“Once the situation calms down, North Macedonia will see that Bulgaria was never its enemy, but on the contrary, remains an honest friend. Friends point out problems and find ways to solve them together,” Zaharieva stressed.

According to her, it’s wrong to think that a change in Bulgarian leadership after March elections will cause Sofia to soften its position towards North Macedonia and give up on some of its demands.

She also pointed out that a crucial principle of the EU enlargement process is resolution of open disputes, not just with member states, but also with neighbors.

In the meantime, authorities in Skopje are expected to review the comments Sofia has sent as a response to the draft-action plan before establishing a clear position in an attempt to restore trust between North Macedonia and Bulgaria and unblock the country’s path to EU integration.

After Vlado Buchkovski, the government’s special envoy, visited Sofia where he met with FM Ekaterina Zaharieva, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said the country has proposed ‘an action plan for cooperation with the Republic of North Macedonia as regards the implementation of the Friendship Treaty.’ The document, it said, is intended for all competent ministries and is expected to be signed at the upcoming meeting of the joint intergovernmental commission in line with Article 12 of the Agreement.

Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, however, explained that the document Bulgaria had sent was in fact Bulgaria’s view of the action plan, i.e. ‘exchange of ideas regarding the plan.’

North Macedonia sent the proposed action plan on the implementation of the 2017 agreement to Bulgaria in late 2020.

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski on Wednesday called on the government to unveil the ’12-point’ document that was negotiated with Bulgaria. Speaking at a news conference, he insisted that the Macedonian identity was up for debate in the negotiations with Bulgaria.

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