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Skopje: The Procedures for The New Amendment of The Constitution Begin – What The Bulgarians Want

In the final stretch for the implementation of the agreement that provides for the inclusion of the Bulgarian minority in exchange for the lifting of the veto for EU membership

Skopje is in the final stretch for the new amendment of its Constitution – following the changes made with the Prespa Agreement – ​​in order to include the Bulgarian minority living in the country, a condition necessary for Skopje to continue accession negotiations with the EU .

The government of Skopje is starting the relevant procedures in the next period in a period however in which the political forces in favor of the amendment do not gather in the Parliament the required 2/3 majority.

However, the Ministry of Justice in Skopje has already set a deadline of April 10 for the political parties, the Office of the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Secretariat for European Affairs, in order to submit their proposals for the names of their representatives to the working group for the revision of Constitution.

For almost two years, Bulgaria blocked the start of Skopje’s accession negotiations with the EU due to open ethnic, linguistic and historical differences between the two countries, which has led to a cooling of their relations .

However, last summer, the two countries reached an agreement , based on a proposal from the European Union , according to which Sofia will lift the veto it has placed on the start of the neighboring country’s accession negotiations with the EU, with condition that Skopje will proceed to amend its Constitution , with the inclusion in it of the Bulgarian minority living in the country.

This agreement provokes strong reactions from the largest opposition party in Skopje, the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE , which has declared in all tones that it will not consent to such an amendment to the country’s Constitution.

According to the last population census carried out in 2021 in the country, Bulgarians make up only 0.19% of the country’s population (a total of 3,504 people), a fact which the official Sofia disputes and considers that their percentage is much higher.

The Bulgarians claim a role in the process

In the meantime, Bulgaria is reportedly asking to participate in the process of amending the Constitution.

“Variants of future texts to change the country’s Constitution are already being discussed in North Macedonia, and Bulgaria wants to be part of this process so that it goes ahead without obstacles,” said Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Milkov, who added that for for this purpose he spoke with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Skopje, Boujar Osmani, with whom he met yesterday in Brussels, on the sidelines of the meeting of the foreign ministers of the NATO countries.

According to Milkov, Bulgaria is extending its hand to continue the dialogue and hopes that there will be goodwill from Skopje as well.

Not of Skopje in the involvement of Sofia

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Skopje categorically rejected the possibility of including Bulgaria in the procedures for the amendment of the Constitution.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs that the process of amending the Constitution is an internal issue of the Republic of North Macedonia, which as an obligation is related to the accession negotiations with the European Union. The Parliament is expected to make such a decision, sovereignly and in accordance with the long-term interests of the citizens of North Macedonia, who are represented in the parliament, and in this context, there is no possibility or political will for the integration of citizens and institutions from abroad, including Republic of Bulgaria. Such a request was not received or discussed between Ministers Osmani and Milkov,” the Skopje Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Source: Pontos News