Germany urges EU hopeful North Macedonia to amend constitution
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged her full support to North Macedonia’s bid to join the European Union, warning, however, that parties should not let politics get in the way of amending the Constitution, which is a precondition for accession.
Baerbock pledged her support during a visit to Skopje, where she met her Macedonian counterpart Bujar Osmani.
The German foreign minister added that the Balkan state, which is already a NATO member, must change its constitution to solve the long-standing issue with neighbouring Bulgaria.
The proposed amendment suggests adding a reference in its constitution to the existence of an ethnic Bulgarian minority.
Committing to changing the constitution would “send a signal to the entire region: We absolutely want EU accession,” said Baerbock.
The constitutional amendment “must not become a political bone of contention in the competition for popularity ratings in opinion polls or in the contest over which party might ultimately come out on top in the elections [of 2024],” Baerbock said after a meeting with Osmani.
Osmani vowed to push to implement the constitutional changes and emphasised that there is “no alternative” to rapprochement to the EU.
This will not be an easy feat for the incumbent government as a constitutional amendment is unpopular in the country, and changes to the Constitution would need support from the opposition to reach the required two-thirds majority in parliament.
However, the largest opposition party VMRO-DPMNE is highly critical of the amendment and stressed that it would never support the move. To ease tensions, Baerbock also met with the VMRO-DPMNE party leader in Skopje.
The German government has focused more on the Western Balkans over fears of a potential Russian influence in the region and is supporting the accession of the candidate countries in the Western Balkans.
“Especially in these times, when other actors are trying to instrumentalise and divide heated discussions in countries, I would like to say at this point: You have my word, we will not leave you out in the cold,” Baerbock said.
(Oliver Noyan | EURACTIV.de)