Bulgaria will take key step to drop North Macedonia veto on Friday

Bulgarian lawmakers are on Friday set to make a significant step toward lifting Sofia’s effective veto over North Macedonia beginning membership negotiations with the EU.

MPs will vote in a plenary session on whether to throw their weight behind a proposal by the French presidency of the Council to resolve the impasse between Sofia and Skopje.

Bulgaria has been holding back North Macedonia’s EU aspirations in a long-running dispute over language, history and the rights of the Bulgarian minority in North Macedonia.

The inability to resolve this cross-border dispute sparked fury among Balkan leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday, who fulminated against Sofia holding back their EU prospects.  

In a peculiar twist, North Macedonia itself does not support this so-called “French proposal” at the heart of Friday’s vote in Sofia, but it would be a highly significant political U-turn if Bulgaria’s parliament were able to drop its blocking position.   

“The proposal of the French presidency creates more favorable conditions for defending Bulgarian national interests in the accession negotiations than all the options offered so far,” Bulgaria’s outgoing Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska was quoted as saying by the Mediapool news service.