EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said in Skopje on Tuesday that the start of EU membership talks depends on Northern Macedonia’s agreement with Bulgaria.
Asked about the likelihood that Northern Macedonia will start negotiations with the EU in June, Varhelyi said that this requires the consent of all union member states.
“It is a difficult question. We still have to work hard, we are not where we need to be now. All member states must agree. This means that we will have to find a solution regarding Macedonia and “North,” said Varhelyi.
He did not rule out the possibility that Albania would secede from northern Macedonia, or be the first to start EU membership talks, although senior European officials have repeatedly stressed that the two countries should open the bloc talks. membership.
“Is it possible to separate the two countries? This process is based on merit and if I look at Albania’s achievements, I see that they have met all the conditions … If there is no agreement regarding Northern Macedonia, that moment may come. “We will have to consider this option. I hope this does not happen. Today we had very important talks with the prime minister and we agreed that we need to make progress,” Varhelyi said.
A written statement from the Government in Skopje stated that “during the meeting with Commissioner Varhelyi, the current developments in the country’s EU integration process were discussed and, on this occasion, Prime Minister Zaev stressed that Northern Macedonia is ready and open to finding a common solution to the dispute with Bulgaria “.
In November 2020, Bulgaria blocked the start of Northern Macedonia’s EU membership talks, making it conditional on reaching an agreement on its Macedonian identity and language requirements.
Sofia does not dispute Macedonian identity, but urges Skopje to acknowledge that language and identity have “Bulgarian roots”.
The two states reached an agreement on good neighborliness on August 2, 2017, but the agreement has deepened the differences, due to the interpretations of its parts and the lack of proper definition.
Talks between the two countries have continued at the level of experts on contentious issues, but still without a concrete epilogue./REL