Skopje, 11 October 2021 (MIA) – North Macedonia’s Deputy PM for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov told BBC in an interview that for the first time in a number of years, the EU managed to get consensus to reaffirm its commitment to enlargement, adding that the previous summits – the one in Zagreb and the one in Sofia – spoke only about the European perspective.
“In that sense, we have at least a political signal now, but what it would take to restore the trust of the people that this is actually possible, that there’s indeed a European future for our region, in addition to good words it will take action. Probably the biggest game changer to return the momentum will be the start of accession talks with my country, North Macedonia, and with Albania,” he pointed out.
As regards the Bulgarian blockade of EU talks for North Macedonia, Dimitrov stressed that in 21st century Europe, the question of the language we speak, the mother tongue of the ethnic Macedonians in North Macedonia, is a question for the people of the country, and it is not a question for another country or for another international organization.
“We invested a lot in our relationship with Bulgaria. We signed the Friendship Treaty, essentially saying – we, the governments, will work looking at the future to increase ourt cooperation, Bulgaria will be helping us on our European journey, and for the matters of history we established a committee of historians, so that they can discuss those parts of our history that are common and that connect the two peoples, the two nations, the two countries,” Dimitrov noted, adding however that Bulgaria makes the friendship very difficult because “it’s not friendly to question the language of your neighbor.”
“It’s not very friendly to block something that is so important for the people of North Macedonia – our European future. It is really difficult, in a way, to continue to call them friends,” said Dimitrov.
He underlined that any solution to the issue with Bulgaria must be a European solution.
As regards the position of other EU members on the enlargement, for instance the Netherlands and France, and their concern in terms of the rule of law, Dimitrov says the question in those leaders’ minds is legitimate.
“Their question is: these new six countries, will they bring more problems or will they bring more solutions? The other perspective is – this is a region that is surrounded by member states. We’re in the same boat economically. Three quarters of the trade of the region is with Europe, three quarters of the foreign direct investments coming to the region is from member states of the EU. If Europe is a house, the Western Balkans is a room that is not plugged in in the system, the rules of the house, the electricity, the water supply, the air conditioning, etc. This is not good for the room, but it is also not good for the whole house,” Dimitrov said in an interview with BBC radio.