The European Commission encourages Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia to find a solution to the bilateral dispute as soon as possible in order to launch an intergovernmental conference which will mark the start of negotiations on Northern Macedonia’s accession to the EU. This was stated by the main spokesperson of the EC Eric Mamer.
Eric Mamer added that EC President Ursula von der Leyen had supported the start of negotiations with Northern Macedonia during her meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev today.
EC spokeswoman Ana Pisonero stressed that the Commission maintains its position that Northern Macedonia and Albania have met the conditions for opening negotiations and insists that an intergovernmental conference be convened as soon as possible.
Last week, Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, told Euronews that Albania’s secession from northern Macedonia in their accession process “could be an opportunity” if Bulgaria continues to oppose northern Macedonia’s entry into the bloc.
For his part, the Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia Zoran Zaev said that it is not possible to separate the EU membership offers of Northern Macedonia and Albania.
“Our identity, the Macedonian language, the Macedonian identity, are sacred to us, as to all [other] the country, “Zaev told Euronews on Monday morning after meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels.
“Our Macedonian language and Macedonian identity are not negotiable,” Zaev added.
Zaev said the Prespa agreement, which Greece and northern Macedonia reached in 2018 to resolve a dispute over the latter’s name and facilitate accession talks, is an example of his country’s readiness to engage. in diplomacy.
“But there is goodwill for borders,” he warned.
“We have our pride and we have our identity. Our pride can increase and decrease. We showed it through the Prespa Agreement and with our diplomacy and flexibility.
“Our identity is one and unique and there is no way my government or any other government can negotiate about it. Therefore, it is not possible [for] whether a state or even a union [of which] we are not yet members to play with this.
“[From my side], it is not possible to have disconnection, either [any other kind] of the development or event for practical reasons without a word of Northern Macedonia after everything that happened, “Zaev said, referring to the historic agreement and reforms his country has implemented as part of preparations for EU membership.
“We expect the EU as a whole, the 27 member states, the European Commission, to be in line with what they promised us. We are open to discuss any issues [that] it is negotiable for everyone. “Issues like identities, like languages, are never talked about in any step of the European Union’s enlargement to any other country,” Zaev said.
“It is a great danger if there is a continuation of the blockade. “It is a danger for Bulgaria as well, for Northern Macedonia, for the whole Balkans,” he warned.
The Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia believes that the prolonged offer of accession and its disappointment as a result have led to the circulation of a non-paper claim defending the restoration of the borders of the Balkan countries formed after the break-up of Yugoslavia.