EU urges N Macedonia to back proposed deal with Bulgaria

Jul 4, 2022, 9:50 PM | Updated: Jul 5, 2022, 3:53 pm

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — European Council President Charles Michel urged North Macedonia on Tuesday to back a French-proposed compromise on ending a dispute with neighboring Bulgaria that’s blocking the country’s long-delayed European Union accession bid.

Violent protests erupted in North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, where demonstrators tried to storm government buildings, after French President Emmanuel Macron announced the proposal — which many in the small Balkan country find controversial — last week. Macron said at a NATO summit in Madrid that “a compromise solution” to lift Bulgaria’s opposition to its neighbor’s EU aspirations had been achieved, without giving details.

A few hundred people took part in a new protest late Tuesday in Skopje against the French proposal. Held during a rainstorm, it ended peacefully, but afterwards a small number of protesters threw stones at police outside parliament before being dispersed.

North Macedonia’s president, Stevo Pendarovski, and the government have backed the proposed deal, which calls for the country to acknowledge in its constitution the existence of an ethnic Bulgarian minority. It would also provide for regular reviews on how the bilateral dispute is being addressed, which could potentially hamper North Macedonia’s future accession course.

But the center-right main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, many international law experts and civic organizations say the proposal favors Bulgarian demands which dispute their own country’s views of regional history, language, identity and heritage.

As an EU member, Bulgaria has the power to block its neighbor’s accession bid.

At a joint news conference Tuesday with North Macedonia’s prime minister, Dimitar Kovachevski, Michel stressed that the French proposal is too “important an opportunity to be missed.”

Michel said that if North Macedonia accepts the proposal, then the path for the country to start EU accession talks could open within days.

Kovachevski reiterated his support for the “balanced proposal,” adding that “our aim is to start membership talks.”

On a third day of mass protests late Monday in Skopje, protesters threw stones, eggs and bottles at the government offices and parliament building in downtown Skopje. Police prevented the crowd of several thousand people from forcing their way into government offices. Four police were injured in front of parliament.

Bulgaria has already formally accepted the French proposal, which now requires the backing of North Macedonia’s parliament.

Bulgaria insists that North Macedonia formally recognizes that its language has Bulgarian roots, acknowledges a Bulgarian minority and quashes “hate speech” against Bulgaria.

North Macedonia has been a candidate for EU membership for 17 years. The country received a green light in 2020 to begin accession talks, but no date for the start of the negotiations has been set.

Before Bulgaria raised its objections, North Macedonia settled a decades-old dispute with another neighbor and EU member, Greece, to forward its aim of joining the 27-nation bloc. As a result it added the word North to its previous name, Macedonia, which Greece had complained implied claims on its own territory, history and cultural heritage.

The dispute with Bulgaria has also stalled the progress of another Balkan country, Albania, toward EU membership because the bloc is treating the pair as a political package. North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania are all NATO members.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

In this aerial image, taken by a drone from the environmental group Sea Shepherd, shows a Beluga wh...
Associated Press

Efforts to feed Beluga whale in France’s Seine fail so far

PARIS (AP) — Efforts to feed a dangerously thin Beluga whale that has strayed into the Seine River in France have failed so far and experts are now trying to get the whale out of the river lock where it is stuck, environmentalists said Monday. The marine conservation group Sea Shepherd France tweeted Monday that […]
1 day ago
FILE - Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stands outside Maximos Mansion in Athens, May 6,...
Associated Press

Greek PM ‘unaware’ of prominent politician’s wiretap

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister said Monday he was unaware that the country’s intelligence service had been bugging an opposition politician’s mobile phone for three months, insisting that he wouldn’t have allowed it had he known. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who faces elections next year, made the remarks in a televised address to the nation […]
1 day ago
Mourners attend an annual procession commemorating Ashoura which marks the death anniversary of Ima...
Associated Press

Shiite Muslims in Mideast mark solemn holy day of Ashoura

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Millions of Shiite Muslims — from Iran to Afghanistan and Pakistan — were marking the festival of Ashoura on Monday, one of the most emotional occasions in their religious calendar, commemorating the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein. Security forces, particularly in Taliban-run Afghanistan, were on high alert […]
1 day ago
Al Medvitz, who farms alfalfa and other crops, looks out over Sacramento River from a hill on his l...
Associated Press

In dry California, salty water creeps into key waterways

RIO VISTA, Calif. (AP) — Charlie Hamilton hasn’t irrigated his vineyards with water from the Sacramento River since early May, even though it flows just yards from his crop. Nearby to the south, the industrial Bay Area city of Antioch has supplied its people with water from the San Joaquin River for just 32 days […]
1 day ago
FILE - The Pfizer logo is displayed on the exterior of a former Pfizer factory, on May 4, 2014, in ...
Associated Press

Pfizer buying spree continues with $5.4B hematology deal

Pfizer will spend about $5.4 billion to buy Global Blood Therapeutics as the pharmaceutical giant continues to invest some of the cash influx reaped during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pfizer said Monday that the acquisition will boost its capabilities in rare hematology. Global Therapeutics makes Oxybryta tablets for treating sickle cell disease. The latest deal follows […]
1 day ago
FILE - This undated file photo provided by NerdWallet shows Liz Weston, a columnist for personal fi...
Associated Press

Liz Weston: 3 ways to fight inflation and win the long game

Inflation is scary. Groceries, gas, airfare, car purchases, utilities : In so many areas, your buying power is shrinking as prices continue to rise. Fear can make you want to do something — anything! — to fight back. Thankfully, many of the best moves to counteract inflation align beautifully with time-tested money management practices. Here […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
EU urges N Macedonia to back proposed deal with Bulgaria