German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz is watching at a joint news conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov after meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria on June 11, 2022. REUTERS / Spasiyana Sergieva

Skopje, North Macedonia: German Prime Minister Olav Schortz visited North Macedonia and Bulgaria on Saturday to resolve a dispute between the two countries that prevented negotiations to join the European Union with both North Macedonia and Albania.
Bulgaria has refused to approve the EU’s accession negotiation framework for North Macedonia, effectively blocking the formal start of accession negotiations with its smaller neighbors on the Balkan Peninsula.
“Western Balkans are strategically important” to Germany, Schortz said, and his country is “serious” in supporting the European integration of the region.
“North Macedonia and Albania deserve to begin membership talks,” Schortz said in a joint press conference with North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitalkovachevsky in the capital Skopje.
Bulgaria officially acknowledges that North Macedonia has Bulgarian roots, refers to the Bulgarian minority in its constitution, and argues that anti-Bulgarian rhetoric must be countered. North Macedonia states that its identity and language are indisputable and that solutions need to be based on European values.
North Macedonia meets all the criteria for initiating membership negotiations with the EU under a “merit system”, Kobachevsky said at a meeting at the EU Summit on June 23. Again urged EU leaders to give a green light towards the start of the.
“North Macedonia and Albania cannot be held hostage in this process because only one EU member state is blocking,” said Kovachevski.
Scholz left Skopje and traveled to the capital of Bulgaria, reiterating his strong support for the start of EU accession negotiations between North Macedonia and Albania.
Scholz spoke to reporters in Sofia, the final destination of the two-day tour to the region, and was optimistic that progress would be made before the closing of the EU Presidency of France on June 30.
The German Chancellor has discussed with Bulgarian authorities about the war in Ukraine and reducing energy dependence on Russia.
“As Europeans, we are confident that we are responsible for the stability of the EU and the Balkans. It is now important to use the expansion process for the benefit of Europe,” he said.
Scholtz said North Macedonia needed a solid European perspective, adding that it was not easy to overcome the differences between the two Balkan neighbors.
“But our historical experience shows that when distrust is overcome and friendships with our neighbors are built, it will be enriched for all nations,” he said.
After meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, Scholz said, “It is very important to bring a new impetus to this process,” and North Macedonia needs to meet certain conditions to start the process. Added.
“I advocate that the next step will happen,” Schortz said.
“Bulgaria has three main priorities, and the EU needs to be part of the guarantee, which allows us to move forward through the European process to ensure that Bulgarians are included in the North Macedonian Constitution. You can, “says Petkov.
“At the same time, we have a good neighborhood agreement with the position of the framework, so each decision must include these three priorities,” he said, and the EU has told Europe that this will happen. He added that it can provide a potential opportunity to guarantee.
North Macedonia applied for EU membership in 2004 and received a positive evaluation from the European Commission a year later.
EU leaders have agreed to formal accession negotiations between Albania and North Macedonia after Skopje settled a nearly 30-year dispute over its name with neighboring Greece in 2018.
The Western Balkans are at various stages of EU accession negotiations. Serbia and Montenegro have already begun negotiations on several chapters of the membership agreement. Kosovo and Bosnia have signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step towards accession.

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