North Macedonia's parliament on Saturday backed France's compromise proposal that should remove the Bulgarian blockade of accession talks between the European Union and Skopje, MIA news agency reported.
Sixty-eight MPs voted in favour of the proposal, while the opposition had walked out of the chamber before the vote.
North Macedonia was granted EU membership candidate status in 2005 and has been waiting since 2008 to open accession talks. First it was blocked by Greece over its name, forcing it to change its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia in late 2020. Then Bulgaria blocked the opening of talks over a dispute relating to their common history and language and the rights of the Bulgarian minority in North Macedonia.
France, which held the rotating EU presidency in the first half of the year, drew up a proposal last month providing for the recognition of the Bulgarian minority in North Macedonia’s constitution “on an equal footing with other nations” and for certain changes in Macedonian history textbooks. Other issues would be addressed at a later date by Skopje and Sofia.
European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter that today’s decision paved the way to holding an intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia next week. “We welcome you with open arms,” he added.
Since the beginning of July, there have been protests in the streets of Skopje against the proposed compromise deal with Bulgaria.