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Bulgaria refuses to remove barrier to North Macedonia’s EU talks

Christian Fernsby |
A meeting of EU countries’ European affairs ministers on Tuesday once more failed to signal a green light for the start of North Macedonia and Albania’s EU membership negotiations.

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Due to the ongoing Bulgarian objections to beginning talks with North Macedonia, which cite unresolved historical issues between the two countries, the European affairs ministers were again not able to resolve the negotiating frameworks for the two countries so that European leaders can officially approve them at their summit on Thursday.

“To my immense disappointment, we haven’t yet got the common negotiating framework and council conclusions yet,” Germany’s Minister for Europe, Michael Roth, whose country has the EU presidency until the year’s end, told a press conference after the meeting.

“That is a bitter blow to our Western Balkans policy, the aim of which is to foster peace, stability and democracy in the Western Balkans,” Roth added.

He said he hoped that in the next few days, “or at the latest during the Portuguese presidency the necessary breakthrough can be achieved”.

However, he continued: “It is no longer about if, it is about when we will open negotiating chapters.

“I would like to signal a bit of optimism because it is a single EU country that was not able to agree to the negotiation framework. I am fairly sure that our partners in Skopje will not be discouraged. Next year as quickly as possible we will hopefully be able to make a breakthrough and reach an agreement.”

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