Bulgaria rejects EU pressure to allow North Macedonia to join

Bulgaria rejects EU pressure to allow North Macedonia to join

Bulgaria is sticking to its position blocking North Macedonia’s accession talks with the European Union despite growing pressures from its Western partners to lift its veto following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hours after EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi wrapped up his talks with Bulgarian officials, saying he would return in three weeks to seek Bulgaria’s “yes” to the negotiations, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov on Friday reiterated his position that the government would “not do anything based on external pressure.”

In a video address to the nation, Petkov said his centrist coalition government would act only based on a broad national consensus. He urged President Rumen Radev to convene a meeting of national security council to discuss the current stage of the relations between the two Balkan neighbors.

Sofia is pushing for North Macedonia to pass constitutional guarantees protecting the rights of Bulgarians in North Macedonia as well as to make progress on historical disputes and to eliminate hate speech against Bulgaria.

Petkov said the cabinet would not take any action before full agreement was reached between all coalition partners and Parliament has issued a firm position.

“The National Assembly alone has the final legitimate mandate on North Macedonia, and this should be perfectly clear to the whole of Bulgarian society and to our foreign partners,” Petkov said.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Bulgaria and North Macedonia on Wednesday to resolve their dispute, speaking on the phone with the leaders of both countries.

“The purpose of these talks, while France holds the EU presidency, was to encourage the two countries to quickly pursue the dialogue on the dispute between them,” Macron’s office said. [AP]

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