Lastly, greater than a decade-and-a-half after it first utilized, what’s now North Macedonia seemed to be sprinting down the house straight to EU membership.
An extended-running title dispute with its southern neighbours Greece had seen Athens put up impediment after impediment to Skopje becoming a member of the bloc.
However, final 12 months, each international locations got here to a historic settlement that settled the argument and put North Macedonia nearby of the ending line.
Now, inside touching distance of its purpose, one other hurdle has appeared on the horizon within the form of neighbours Bulgaria.
Sofia, presently engulfed in long-running anti-government protests, has objected to membership talks getting underway.
It’s sad with the “present negotiating framework”, which units the groundwork for North Macedonia’s accession.
Bulgaria’s overseas ministry didn’t give particular causes for its dissatisfaction, merely saying the present framework “doesn’t present the authorized ensures sought by Bulgaria”. It insists its “calls for” are formally added to the negotiating paperwork.
Bulgaria and North Macedonia are at odds over language, and, in flip, historical past, with the previous demanding Skopje recognise that its language and nation has Bulgarian roots, which might thus put an finish to claims that there’s a distinct Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.
Sofia says Macedonian is a regional dialect of Bulgarian, however North Macedonia maintains that Macedonian is a definite South Slavic language and an integral a part of the tradition and identification of its residents.
Over the previous two weeks, the international locations have been in talks to try to discover a answer earlier than a gathering involving the overseas ministers of EU member states, which was deliberate for November 10 however has now been pushed again.
Since its cut up from Yugoslavia in 1991, the nation had been internationally recognized by the clunky moniker of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM, after Athens refused to recognise its use of the title Macedonia, which is already utilized by a area in northern Greece.
EU leaders gave the inexperienced gentle for North Macedonia and Albania to start formal talks to affix the bloc in March.