March 22, 2023

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27 Agreement to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia

Two new candidates. Out of which 27 member statesEuropean union They gave their agreement to begin talks to unify on Monday Albania And this Fruit salad The day after a protocol was signed between North, Skopje and Sofia Removes the last obstacles.

Twenty-seven have given their agreement to start accession negotiations with “Albania and North Macedonia! t tweeted the Czech prime minister, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. “We have taken another important step to bring the Western Balkans closer to the EU,” he added after a meeting in Brussels.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and North Macedonia’s Dimitar Kovacevski are expected to formally launch the talks in Brussels on Tuesday, which will take years.

Long term applications

The opening of the negotiations was launched by France, which held the EU’s rotating presidency for the first half of the year, with Bulgaria and North Macedonia signing a bilateral protocol on Sunday. The protocol would, among other things, allow Macedonian to become one of the official languages ​​of the European Union. Bulgaria had until recently blocked the opening of talks due to disputes between the two countries over a long list of historical and linguistic issues.

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North Macedonia gained EU candidate status nearly 20 years ago and had to overcome major differences with Greece to join NATO in March 2020. Bulgaria’s position has blocked Albania’s candidacy since 2014.

Language conflict

Under French pressure, the Bulgarian parliament agreed last month to lift its veto in exchange for assurances that North Macedonia would meet some demands on disputed points. In North Macedonia, the language issue is very sensitive in Bulgaria, which considers the Macedonian language as Bulgarian, while the two countries dispute historical events and statistics, mainly derived from the Ottoman past.

North Macedonia has pledged to amend its constitution to include Bulgarians among recognized ethnic groups and to implement a 2017 friendship treaty aimed at eradicating hate speech. VMRO-DPMNE’s nationalist right has been outraged and has denounced the compromise in recent days, calling Dimitar Kovacevsky a “traitor”.

Brussels is pushing for EU expansion in the Balkans, a region whose strategic importance has increased amid the war in Ukraine.