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Bulgaria is putting the brakes on North Macedonia’s EU fantasies. Here’s the reason why.

Over the usual decade-and-a-half after it applied, what is now The Republic of North Macedonia seemed to be sprinting down the house straight towards EU membership.

A long-running name dispute with its southern neighbor Greece had witnessed Athens set up obstacle after obstacle to Skopje joining the bloc. Athens objected to the title Macedonia — used by a few of its northern areas — however, the two sides reached a historical deal last year which settled the debate and place the newly-renamed Republic of North Macedonia within sight of the ending line.

But another barrier has awakened, now in the nation’s eastern shore, Bulgaria.

Sofia, now engulfed in long-running anti-government protests, has transitioned to membership talks getting underway, stating it’s miserable with the”present negotiating framework”.

Bulgaria’s foreign ministry didn’t give certain reasons for its dissatisfaction, only saying the present framework” does not provide the legal guarantees hunted by Bulgaria”. It insists that its”requirements” are officially added to the bargaining files.

The same as using Athens, Sofia’s problem is just one of title, now about speech.

“Bulgaria’s objections over North Macedonia’s accession bid need to do with background and individuality. Especially, Bulgaria needs North Macedonia to admit the language spoken from the Slav Macedonian majority in North Macedonia isn’t”Macedonian” but Bulgarian –or even a dialect thereof,” Angelos Chryssogelos, Associate Fellow of the Europe Programme at Chatham House, advised Euronews.

“They also need Skopje to reevaluate the”Bulgarian roots of this”Macedonian” nation” and also to give up any claims that they might have that there’s a different”Macedonian” minority in Bulgaria, which Sofia doesn’t recognize as it believes those who call themselves”Macedonians” as Bulgarians,” he added.

Within the previous two months, the states have been in discussions to attempt to find a solution in front of a meeting between the foreign ministers of all EU member countries, which was intended for November 10 but has been pushed back.

The organization also contended in a recent notice that”the Bulgarian and Macedonian languages are two distinct languages for which cross-language communicating necessitates interpretation/translation, similar to, such as (sic), in the event of the Serbian and Croatian languages where cross-language communication doesn’t call for interpretation/translation.”

But nationally and EU politics, as much as background, could be playing a role.

Anti-corruption protests are continuing in Bulgaria for at least a hundred times with protesters calling for Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and also the nation’s top prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, to step down. They accuse both guys of colluding with an oligarchic mafia.

Borissov, that has refused to resign, has up to now endured five votes of no confidence.

“The uncomfortable reality is that the enhancement procedure is an attractive instrument for EU members to push changes and policies in their non-EU acquaintances,” Chryssogelos explained.

“For Bulgaria, North Macedonia’s accession procedure is a means to extract concessions in a very delicate moment for Skopje. Above all, however, because the majority of these needs concern subjective topics of identity and background, they signify the demand for the Colombian authorities to embrace powerful nationalist posturing for domestic political factors. Especially as lately it’s confronted corruption allegations, street demonstrations along with an economic downturn because of the outbreak,” he added.

EU’s picture damaged in the Balkans
Last year Brussels believed that Bulgaria’s progress on reforming its judiciary, combating corruption, and handling organized crime because then was”adequate”, but noted area for advancement.

It’s since become more demanding on matters on the principle of law, but economists have decried the bloc’s slowness to respond along with the dearth of punishments.

The Commission, for example,” mildly rebuked the government’s efforts to end the protests by force”, Judy Dempsey of those Carnegie Europe think tank has stated.

She contended the Borissov’s days in power might be plotted when the band his celebration belongs to in the EU Parliament — that the European People’s Party (EPP) — were to speak out from him that, exactly like with Hungary’s Viktor Orban, “that the EPP is taking a soft line on Bulgaria too.”

For Chryssogelos,” the episode is just another sign of the profound complications which produce the EU’s enlargement policy — after its most successful foreign policy instrument — a poor and inefficient instrument now.”

“It indicates that, as the EU gets larger and more varied, it’s getting more and more hard to settle on common policies and standards of its foreign policy without special national agendas getting whatsoever.

“This damages that the EU’s image in the area and leaves it doubtful that its improvement guarantee will seem plausible to some other Western Balkan nations,” he further added.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are possible candidate states.