June 23. 2024. 7:34

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Skopje sets up working group in hopes of unlocking EU accession

The Ministry of Justice of North Macedonia has formed a working group to prepare constitutional changes for introducing the Bulgarian minority, which emerged as a condition of the agreement with Sofia to unblock Skopje’s EU membership pathway.

Bulgaria blocked North Macedonia’s EU accession for almost two years over language, history and culture disputes. In order to unblock the process, the Bulgarian state made several demands, including designating Bulgarians as a minority in the constitution.

The government has delegated ten representatives, while state institutions have appointed representatives from the president’s cabinet, the Secretariat for European Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They will be joined by external legal and constitutional experts.

However, not all political forces are on board.

“The Albanian and Macedonian opposition in the Parliament of North Macedonia have decided to boycott the commission’s work for drafting constitutional amendments. First, political consensus and removal of the 20 per cent definition for the Albanian people is required, and a guarantee from Bulgaria that it will not ask for further sacrifices from North Macedonia.”

After the preparation of the constitutional amendments, the government will send the document of the revisions to the parliament, where it will be debated. But to change the constitution, a 2/3 majority is required in a vote, which cannot be achieved at the moment due to the positions of other parties who refuse to give in to the demands.

The process of constitutional changes must be completed by the end of November this year if North Macedonia wants to open the chapters and continue the EU membership process.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)