The European Union and the United States have congratulated North Macedonia after its parliament voted on July 16 to adopt the “French proposal” on a way forward, involving resolving differences with Bulgaria, towards opening EU accession negotiations for the former Yugoslav republic.
MPs in North Macedonia’s capital city Skopje voted 68 in favour, with the votes coming from the ruling SDSM and ethnic Albanian parties, while the opposition VMRO-DPMNE walked out of the hall before the vote.
The vote, which gives the country’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski a mandate to negotiate within the framework of the “French proposal”, was preceded by days of turbulent protests outside North Macedonia’s parliament.
North Macedonia’s MPs obliged the government, the foreign ministry and the negotiating team in the talks with the EU to strictly adhere to the condition of respecting the linguistic, identity, historical and cultural characteristics of the Macedonian people as non-negotiable points with the EU.
Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on June 24 to approve the “French proposal”, while underlining points of specific importance to Bulgaria in the negotiations.
Reported details of the proposal may be found at this link.
After the vote in Skopje, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a message on Twitter: “Congratulations to North Macedonia on the vote that now paves the way for opening the accession negotiations rapidly. It was a historic opportunity. And you seized it. A big step on your path towards a European future. Your future.”
European Council President Charles Michel said that the vote paved the way to the holding of an intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia next week.
“A crucial step for North Macedonia and for the EU. Our future is together and we welcome you with open arms,” Michel said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the vote was “in favour of opening accession negotiations, in favour of our common European future”.
“A crucial step on the EU path for Albania and North Macedonia, at times when we need to stand together in living up to joint challenges,” Borrell said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US welcomes the decision by the parliament of North Macedonia to take the next steps on North Macedonia’s EU accession path.
“We recognize the difficult tradeoffs considered in this compromise, which acknowledges and respects North Macedonia’s cultural identity and the Macedonian language,” Blinken said.
He said that the decision comes at a critical moment for North Macedonia, the Western Balkans, and Europe: “A European Union that includes all of the Western Balkans, including Albania and North Macedonia, will be stronger and more prosperous. Now is the time to build momentum and work on next steps”.
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