We have put pressure, but we understand the Bulgarian position on Northern Macedonia

The State Secretary for European Affairs of Portugal – Ana Paula Zakarias, expressed hope that after the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria a solution will be found for the veto of Bulgaria to start negotiations with Northern Macedonia for EU membership.

We remind you that Portugal, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, will hand over these functions to Slovenia on 1 July.

Minister Zakarias expects that, as a country in the same region, Slovenia will help find a solution to the problem. At the same time, she stressed that Bulgaria’s position must be respected and no disagreements should be introduced in the EU.

“This is a very difficult debate, especially for Bulgaria, it is about the history, the cultural identity of the two countries, as well as the future cooperation. They are currently working on something like a roadmap to help them work together, and for Bulgaria to there are guarantees that when northern Macedonia joins the EU, things will go more smoothly. ” – The Minister told reporters in Lisbon.

“Northern Macedonia has gone through difficult negotiations with Greece – remember that this changed the name of the country. But it is very difficult because it is also related to Bulgaria as a culture and language. It is obviously related to the language of Northern Macedonia, which was once part of the Bulgarian language and the cultural dimensions of both countries. There will be new elections in Bulgaria on July 11, and I think the Bulgarian authorities are waiting for their results before deciding how to act, “Zakarias said.

“We must respect the Bulgarian position and we have done that. And it is important that no disagreements and problems are introduced into the EU between two countries. We want them to be resolved before a country joins the European Union. That is why we could not start because we had to to give Bulgaria time to resolve this with Northern Macedonia before convening the intergovernmental conference. ” she added.

Minister Zakariash pointed out that Bulgaria was also under pressure to find a compromise:

“There is a balance here, so we put pressure on Bulgaria as well, because we had put a good proposal on the table – to consider, to see if it can work. We are also working with Northern Macedonia and trying to see if the time comes, in which to agree on the issue. But this pressure still has limits. “

She also commented on the extent to which the elections could change a position around which there is a very broad public consensus:

“What I feel is that the time was not right. Bulgaria needed more time to discuss these issues. Whether there will be elections or not, I think negotiations with Northern Macedonia should continue, especially with regard to the roadmap. which must be clear. “

Zakariash showed understanding for the Bulgarian position – that our country is not against the European perspective of Northern Macedonia, but against the anti-Bulgarian rhetoric and insists that the joint historical commission resume its meetings.

“Both sides are trying to express their position – Bulgaria has always said that it is not against the membership of Northern Macedonia in the EU, on the contrary, it wants to be there. But he adds that there must be clarity on some aspects. That is why sometimes it is necessary more time, more caution and debate must continue. ” she stated.

She expressed confidence that the Slovenian Presidency would support this process and work hard to make progress.

“I think our efforts have been appreciated by both Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia. But time is needed between balancing the pressure we are exerting and understanding the situation that needs to be achieved. As presidency, we wanted to make this point, but we need to understand the circumstances. ” – summed up Anna Paula Zakariash.