Demonstration against the agreement with Bulgaria

Demonstration against the agreement with Bulgaria

Thousands demonstrated in Skopje on Saturday at the call of nationalists against a draft agreement aimed at settling the historic row with Bulgaria that has stymied the start of negotiations on North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union.

The rally was supported by the main opposition party, the right-wing nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, whose leader Christian Mikoski said:We don’t need Europe if it’s going to absorb!“.”I don’t want to be part of Europe because I have the right to be Macedonian, I speak Macedonian and I fight for my identity and cultureHe added, addressing the demonstrators, who came with Macedonian flags and banners that read:No to the European Union” where “Supporters, do not negotiate with the fascists!and shout atbetrayal“.

Since 2020, the Bulgarian position has prevented the launch of negotiations with Skopje, but also with Tirana, the two candidates linked by the European Union. Sofia finally filed her veto on June 24, under certain circumstances. According to the settlement on the table, which was prepared under the French presidency of the European Union and just ended, Skopje should in particular undertake to amend its constitution to include Bulgarians in the recognized ethnic groups and “dutyA 2017 friendship treaty aims to stamp out hate speech.

Police records

North Macedonia was also invited to review its school programs and open communist police archives supposed to show the mistreatment of Bulgarians in this former Yugoslav republic. The issue of language also remains very sensitive, with Sofia considering the Macedonian language as a dialect of Bulgarian, while the two countries dispute historical events and personalities, inherited mainly from the Ottoman past.

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The government in Skopje, which protesters had demanded to resign, had rejected an earlier French proposal in June, before signaling its willingness to accept another. Public consultations on its content began without delay. However, according to local specialists on European issues and the opposition, the draft of the new agreement is not much different from the first.

Prior to this, the route from North Macedonia to the European Union had already been blocked by Greece due to a dispute over its name, the corresponding name for a region in northern Greece. The country has been a member of NATO since 2020.

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