Bulgaria’s parliament approved on Friday French president Emmanuel Macron's proposal that can potentially unblock the start of European Union accession talks with North Macedonia if Skopje meets conditions related to the rights of the Bulgarian minority in the country, historical and linguistic issues.
The decision to lift Bulgaria's veto over the start of North Macedonia's membership negotiations with the EU was endorsed in a 170 - 37 vote with 21 abstentions in the 240 seat parliament. The plenary session was streamed live on the parliament's website.
Under the decision, Bulgaria will back North Macedonia's EU accession process if North Macedonia acknowledges in its constitution a Bulgarian minority and eradicates hate speech against Bulgaria.
North Macedonia has held EU candidate status for 17 years and received the green light in 2020 to begin membership negotiations but no date has been set for their start.
However, it remains unclear whether the Bulgarian parliament's decision would be enough to unblock the process as North Macedonia's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski said on Thursday that the French proposal is unacceptable to his country in its present form.
On Thursday, Macron urged Bulgarian MPs to vote in favour of the proposal of the French EU presidency, so that it can be discussed by the EU ambassadors next week.