European Western Balkans

Karakachanov: Bulgaria believes that it is not the time to start negotiations between the EU and North Macedonia

Bulgarian flag; Photo: Pixabay

SOFIA – Bulgaria will declare that it is not the time to schedule the first intergovernmental conference for the start of accession negotiations between North Macedonia and the EU, announced Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Krasimir Karakachanov while accusing North Macedonia of doing nothing to implement the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria and that “everything is just an imitation”.

“No one wants new criteria to be introduced for North Macedonia, but there is a very clear condition set by the EU that each candidate country must first clear up problems with its neighbors before starting negotiations”, said Karakachanov.

Speaking on behalf of the Bulgarian government, the Deputy Prime Minister said that North Macedonia had three years to “re-educate” itself and that during that time it did not respect the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations.

“Bulgaria is not changing anything in its policy. In October last year, we said very clearly that if the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations of August 2, 2017 is not respected, we will oppose scheduling the first intergovernmental conference,” Karakachanov said.

The Government of North Macedonia, which expects to start negotiations with the EU by the end of the year, replied that blackmail is not the solution and that disputed issues should be resolved through friendly negotiations.

Defense Minister of North Macedonia Radmila Šekerinska Jankovska replied to Karakachanov’s statement saying that now is the time to see how much we are in favor of good neighborly relations, Mia.mk reports.

“We have passed our test. Such statements are not in the spirit of the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations. Emotions are not a good ally in resolving bilateral issues. We have shown that we can be friends with all our neighbors. We expect our allies to help the region, not to push it back,” said Šekerinska Jankovska.

We recalled that earlier this week Bulgaria has sent an explanatory memorandum to the Council of the European Union which contains a framework position on the accession of North Macedonia to the EU, Mia.mk reported.

The memorandum, which touches upon historical events argues that North Macedonia has conducted “ethnic and linguistic engineering”. Bulgaria also emphasized that there is an unresolved conflict between the two countries, which “could, upon accession (to the EU), negatively affect the decision-making within the EU”.

The memorandum stated that some of the main issues between Skopje and Sofia are the language, joint history, and minority issues.

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