Bulgaria has threatened to veto the start of EU talks with North Macedonia if language and history disputes are not resolved, Politico reported.
A meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday regarding the new EU accession methodology and framework for negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia discussed Bulgaria’s concerns as well, a diplomat told Politico.
The Council of the EU approved the opening of EU accession talks with the two countries but another approval of the framework is needed before the formal start of talks.
Germany plans to complete the procedure before the end of year, during its presidency of the Council.
Bulgaria’s concerns relate the alleged “revision of our common history, the denial of our common ethnic and linguistic roots or the unfounded claims for the existence of a ‘Macedonian minority’ in Bulgaria.”
Issues related to their history and language have been persistent between the two countries, since North Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. An accord signed in 2017 to resolve the issues has not been properly implemented, according to Bulgaria.
Nikala Dimotrov, the Macedonian deputy prime minister for European integration, has praised Bulgaria’s support for the EU enlargement, adding that his country is committed to implementing the accord.
“It is simply not right for the Macedonian language to be an obstacle to our European future if the EU is a community of values that celebrates diversity,” he told Politico.
Discussing will be ongoing and diplomats are positive on finding a solution so that Bulgaria avoids a veto.
The Council has also posed several conditions for Albania to fulfil before the formal start of EU talks. The latest European Commission’s progress report on Albania found that while many of these conditions have been met, work remains to be done on some others.