Sofia-Skopje talks resume with concrete proposals on the table

Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev (R) and North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (L) hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, 17 June 2021. [EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV]

North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is visiting Sofia with specific proposals for ending the deadlock over his country’s EU integration process, which his Bulgarian counterpart Stefan Yanev announced would be discussed intensively in the coming days.

Zaev is trying to deepen the bilateral dialogue to find a way to overcome the current stalemate regarding North Macedonia starting EU accession negotiations, before 24-25 June meeting of EU leaders. 

“I hope that the atmosphere of trust and mutual respect will continue in the interest of seeking a solution because the European perspective of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Western Balkans is in the interest of Bulgaria, the region and the EU as a whole,” said Bulgarian Prime Minister Stefan Yanev after the meeting with Zaev.

“But all this must be within the rules, we must first clear things up among ourselves so as not to leave unresolved problems in the European family,” he added.

The two discussed a possible solution to the problem, with specific deadlines and the resolution of historical disputes. Zaev commented that the problems between the two countries “are not impossible to solve”, as long as the decision is in the interest of both parties. 

“There is no other alternative for us. We believe in European values,​​” said Zaev, calling on people in North Macedonia and Bulgaria to maintain good neighbourly and friendly relations.

“We currently have the opportunity to work on finding a solution. Our goal is to focus on trust, friendship and open dialogue”, Yanev replied. 

Earlier in the day, Zaev met with former Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov, who tried to shift the blame for Bulgaria’s position on Skopje onto the current government. The veto on North Macedonia was imposed by Borissov’s government in December. (Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)

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