EP Adopts Kyuchyuk’s Draft-Report on Macedonia’s Progress in EU-Integration

The European Parliament (EP) adopted on Thursday the Draft-report concerning Macedonia’s progress towards EU accession, prepared by Rapporteur for Macedonia, MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk, with 558 votes in favour and 70 against. Before the adoption, Kyuchyuk addressed messages of encouragement to Skopje and Sofia for resolving the bilateral issues as soon as possible. European Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi also called Skopje and Sofia to double the efforts for overcoming the bilateral issues between them. “I encourage both sides to apply more constructive approach and refrain from actions and statements that damage the process. I believe that if the issue is resolved, we may hold the first inter-governmental conference with Skopje before 1 July,” Varhelyi said. The adoption of the report was preceded by a fierce debate between the MEPs, mainly focusing on an amendment filed to it by MEPs Tonino Picula, Tanja Fajon, Andreas Schieder, Marek Belka, in which official Sofia is criticised about and called to refrain from provocative statements towards Skopje, in relation to the bilateral dispute between the two countries because of which Bulgaria vetoed the start of EU accession talks for Macedonia. MEP Fajon said that the Bulgarian veto for Skopje is an irresponsible act and that it has nothing to do with the criteria for EU accession, while MEP Schieder said that the future of people in both countries should not be hostage of that veto. The amendment was fiercely opposed by Bulgarian MEPs. MEP Angel Dzhambazki compared Macedonia to North Korea, saying that it is unacceptable in the 21st century in a European country for people to be discriminated and maltreated only because they identify as Bulgarian, singling out the case with negative comments towards singer Vasil Garvanliev after he revealed he holds Bulgarian citizenship. MEP Andrey Kovatchev said that Bulgarians were majority in Macedonia before Josip Broz Tito came to power in Yugoslavia, and today they are discriminated based on their ethnic identity. In the end, the amendment filed by the 4 MEPs criticising Bulgaria was not adopted, because majority of MEPs, mostly from EPP, voted against it. Deputy PM for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov welcomed the adoption of the report, and also voiced disappointment that the amendment filed by the 4 MEPs was not added to it.