bne IntelliNews – North Macedonia takes another step towards EU membership despite internal tensions

The EU selection process with North Macedonia officially started on September 15, after the first intergovernmental conference was held in July.

North Macedonia, alongside Albania, waited two years to start negotiations with the EU after receiving the green light from the EU Council. This was due to the Bulgarian veto on Skopje linked to language and history issues, which also blocked Tirana, which was associated with the process. The veto was finally lifted in early July. North Macedonia has been an EU candidate since 2005 and Albania since 2014.

“After 17 years of waiting, the selection process with North Macedonia for EU membership opened today in Brussels. We are starting a process in which essential reforms will be deepened for the implementation of European regulations, for the Europeanization of society and the European functioning of the state,” said Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski.

Kovacevski explained that the process began with an explanatory review of Chapter 5, which concerned government procurement.

The Macedonian delegation in Brussels is headed by chief negotiator Bojan Maricic, who is deputy prime minister and minister responsible for European affairs in the government led by Kovacevski.

From 15 to 27 September, meetings will take place on the areas and chapters of the Core Values ​​cluster, when the Commission will present the new legislation for these areas.

The first intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia was held on July 19, but for the second conference to take place, which will effectively mean the start of negotiations, the country must change its constitution and include ethnic Bulgarians as constitutional nation.

Under the protocol signed between Skopje and Sofia after the veto was lifted, Bulgaria has the right to block North Macedonia’s progress on its path to the EU if it is not satisfied with the implementation of its requirements.

The EU selection process came two days after parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi rejected a motion by the main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE to hold a referendum against the friendship treaty with Bulgaria, which is a key element for the country’s progress in the EU.

A few days earlier, the VMRO-DPMNE tabled a motion in parliament calling for a referendum to abandon the 2017 treaty with Sofia, saying it is harmful to the country’s national interests.

Mickoski said that unless the friendship treaty with Bulgaria is abandoned, the VMRO-DPMNE will not support constitutional changes. Parliament needs two-thirds of the vote to pass the changes.

The ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and the Democratic Union of Albanians (DUI) rejected calls for a referendum, saying it would undermine the country’s European perspective and that it s It was another attempt by Mickoski to destabilize the country.

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