SKOPJE (North Macedonia) -- The European Union and U.S. leaders have urged North Macedonia's Parliament to accept a French proposal. This will bring the small Balkan country closer to EU membership and override objections from Bulgaria.
"At this crucial moment in European history, marred by the unjustifiable aggression perpetrated by Russia against Ukraine," advancing Albanian and North Macedonia’s EU path is key for strengthening the cohesion, resilience, and cohesion of the entire European continent," EU foreign and security policy chief Josep Borrell said and Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary-of-State, in a joint statement on Saturday.
"We are happy to accept a compromise proposal that takes into consideration the concerns and interests of both North Macedonia (and Bulgaria) and is based on mutual respect and trust, trust, understanding. They stated that it was important to take the sovereign decision of Parliament of North Macedonia in order to move forward.
"The United States and the European Union are committed to closer cooperation on the Western Balkans. They stated that their common goal is to ensure stability and prosperity, and make their Euro-Atlantic and European futures a reality.
Since 1997, North Macedonia is a candidate for EU membership. Although the country was given the go-ahead to start accession negotiations in 2020, no date has been set.
Bulgaria used its EU membership power to block North Macedonia’s membership.
Since the announcement by Macron at the NATO summit, Madrid, that he believes "a compromise solution" has been reached, political tensions in North Macedonia are on the rise.
Macron's proposal calls for concessions on both sides. Skopje's government would agree to amend its constitution to recognize a Bulgarian minority, protect minorities rights, and banish hate speech as Bulgaria, a member of the EU since 2007, has requested.
While the French leader stressed that the proposal does not question the existence of a Macedonian official language, he also noted that it, like all deals rests on compromises as well as a balance.
Both President Stevo Pendarovski of North Macedonia and Prime Minister Dimitar Kuvacevski supported the proposal as a reasonable compromise. Pendarovski stated that accepting it would not be a historic victory, as one side might call it, or a historic failure, or debacle as the other side would call it.
The government insists that the proposal does no endanger national identity or national interests. The government has stressed that the proposal does not endanger national interests or identity. However, the VMRO–DPMNE and other center-right parties disagree. They claim the deal favors Bulgarian demands, which question North Macedonia’s history, language, culture, and heritage.
On June 22, the no-confidence vote in Bulgaria saw Prime Minister Kiril Pekov's centrist government be toppled. The fragile four-party coalition was dissolved by a junior partner. This party described Petkov's willingness for North Macedonia to be vetoed as "national betrayal"
The proposal from France has been accepted by Bulgaria, but it still needs the support of the North Macedonian parliament. An agenda for a plenary session is not yet available.