a decision expected in Bulgaria on Friday

The Bulgarian Parliament could decide on Friday to lift the veto on the opening of negotiations for accession of North Macedonia to the European Union, declared the Prime Minister at the end of a Balkan summit with the Twenty- Seven. “If tomorrow the deputies take the decision to go ahead, the government will be able to ratify it relatively quickly”, said Kiril Petkov on Thursday evening in Brussels. Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of its neighbor in 1992, when the former communist Yugoslavia broke up.

But relations have been strained in recent years and Sofia has been blocking North Macedonia’s accession to the EU since November 2020 because of cultural and historical disputes. However, a new deal has emerged in recent days: two opposition parties, including that of former Prime Minister Boïko Borissov, have reviewed their position and agreed to lift their veto under conditions.

France, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has tabled a proposal, described as “very good” by Kiril Petkov. Skopje should in particular undertake to modify its Constitution to include Bulgarians in the recognized ethnic groups. The Bulgarian Parliament must therefore say whether it supports this compromise or not. “I expect a very large majority” vote in favor, declared to AFP Hristo Ivanov, the president of the party democratic Bulgaria, on the initiative of the parliamentary motion.

This file is very sensitive in Bulgaria. Coming to power at the end of 2021, Kiril Petkov began a strategy of rapprochement which was not to everyone’s liking, precipitating the fall of the government. He was overthrown on Wednesday by a motion of no confidence, the current prime minister remaining in office until new negotiations are launched to form a new majority.

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