Bulgaria confirmed its veto against opening accession talks between the European Union and North Macedonia during a meeting of the EU General Affairs Council and said the country still had to meet the criteria to clear the process, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Currently, the progress of North Macedonia and Albania is blocked by Bulgaria’s veto in opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia, which was imposed when the previous Bulgarian government tried to wrest concessions from Skopje on bilateral linguistic and historical issues.
“Unfortunately, the Republic of North Macedonia still does not meet the criteria for holding the first Intergovernmental Conference,” Bulgaria’s EU Ambassador Rumen Alexandrov said after the meeting.
He added that Albania should be assessed independently from North Macedonia on the basis of its own performance. The process between the two states is currently coupled and Sofia‘s veto against Skopje is blocking the start of EU accession talks, including with Albania.
Aleksandrov also noted that Bulgaria had proposed several options to resolve the problems with North Macedonia regarding the rights of people with Bulgarian nationality, as well as the implementation of the friendship treaty signed between the two countries.
“Our partners in the Republic of North Macedonia should make specific binding commitments, some of which need to be met in the short term and the rest to be included in the requirements of the future negotiating framework. Until then, no progress is expected in the enlargement process with the Republic of North Macedonia, ”said Aleksandrov.
Bulgaria was under international pressure to open the start of EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. In early November, US Senators Claudia Tenney and William R. Keating, both members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged Sofia to find a compromise and resolve the situation.
In a letter to the Bulgarian ambassador in Washington, Tihomir Stoytchev, they wrote that further blockade of the process would open the door for greater Russian and Chinese influence in the region.