The inclusion of the Bulgarian and other nations living on the territory of North Macedonia in the Constitution, the acceleration of the work of the Historical Committee, fighting hate speech, a celebration of joint historical events and persons, changing content in history and geography books, these are some of the articles in the Protocol that was signed yesterday by the foreign affairs ministers of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria.
The protocol between both countries is a minute from yesterday’s second meeting of the mixed Macedonian-Bulgarian intergovernmental committee whose goal is the implementation and promotion of the Good Neighboring Agreement.
The signing of this document arrives in the aftermath of the three-day debate at the Macedonian parliament and the Government’s acceptance of the French proposal of the negotiation framework for the start of the EU accession negotiations.
The Protocol lists all previous achievements including the next steps that should be undertaken in favor of mutual cooperation in the areas of the economy, agriculture, finance, infrastructure, transportation, communications, energy, environment, the rule of law, and education.
The Protocol’s content, as Foreign Affairs’ Minister Bujar Osmani presented it at a press conference, has no deadlines set, and the school books, historical writings, the joint historical events, and persons will depend on mixed committee’s joint decisions. For this and the next year, the historians have agreed to make joint celebrations of several historical persons and events, and the document states that “if there is a political will from both countries, other joint historical events and persons will also be celebrated.”
Among the steps that should be undertaken after the Intergovernmental conference for the completion of the phase of opening the accession negotiations takes place is the change of the 7th-grade geography schoolbook “because of unfounded ethnic/territorial pretensions” and then taking efficient measures for prevention of the malicious propaganda and activities of private persons directed toward instigating violence, hatred and other activities that would injure the relations between both countries.
Regarding the issue with history, it states that no sooner than the 2024/2025 school year, both countries should adjust all history school books.
North Macedonia is also obliged to take appropriate steps to ensure effective access to equal rights, protection against discrimination, and protection of the culture and the identity of the Bulgarian community in the country.
By signing the Protocol, Bulgaria confirms that it will give its approval for the adoption of the final proposal of the French Presidency of the EU’s Council for the adoption of the negotiation framework and completion of the phase of opening North Macedonia’s accession negotiations with the EU.
After the Protocol’s presentation, Osmani said that with a fully moral and political responsibility he claims that the Macedonian language remains clean, without any footnotes and additions.
“We had three important issues for us i.e. the language, the historical issues not to be used as a determinant for opening and closing of chapters, and the negotiations to start now. We managed to achieve that. The Republic of Bulgaria managed to condition the second intergovernmental conference with constitutional changes. This is the compromise,” said Osmani.
He announced that the first intergovernmental conference with the EU that should take place tomorrow also denotes the start of the negotiations for the EU accession by conducting a screening of our institutions.
“On Tuesday, not only will the negotiations start and there will be a standard first intergovernmental conference, but there will be an opening statement for the process. On the same day, the screening will start. From that moment, the days until a fully-fledged membership are being counted. Starting from that moment on, EU’s experts will start entering our institutions to conduct the screening,” stressed the Head of Macedonian diplomacy.
In case, the work of the Committee for Historical Issues fails to give any results, Osmani says that it cannot be used as a basis for Bulgaria to stop the process of the EU negotiations.