“Germany is very serious about the EU perspective for the Western Balkans,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a visit by North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski to Berlin. This applies “very particularly” to North Macedonia. “We have great respect for Macedonian identity, its language and history and for the immense efforts that North Macedonia is making on its reform path towards the EU,” the Chancellor made clear. He promised that the European Union would not impose any new conditions in the accession process. “I stand for that.”
The planned change in the constitution is now central, and a lot depends on its success, Scholz continued. “I know this is not an easy step, but it is necessary to pave the way for further progress in the accession process,” he said.
Last July, the parliament in Skopje approved a compromise with Bulgaria. Among other things, this stipulates that North Macedonia will change its constitution and recognize the Bulgarians in the country as an ethnic minority. This was a key prerequisite for EU member Bulgaria to say yes to the opening of accession negotiations with neighboring North Macedonia.
Also settled name dispute with Greece
In the spring of 2019, the government in Skopje had already ended its decades-long dispute with Greece over the name of the state. The small western Balkan state with almost 2.1 million inhabitants changed its name from Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia. In the north of Greece there is a province called Macedonia – this was the cause of the conflict. In return, Athens gave up its opposition to the country’s admission to NATO and the EU. North Macedonia has been part of the defense alliance since March 2020 and has been an EU accession candidate since 2005.
Prime Minister Kovacevski stressed that his government had to make difficult decisions, but the country’s citizens want to live in the European Union. “Our future is in the European values that we share with Germany,” he said. In addition, North Macedonia has already adopted 45 percent of all EU legislation.
se/rb (afp, rtr)