Von der Leyen Addresses Parliament in Skopje over French Proposal

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen attended and addressed the parliamentary session on Thursday in Skopje held over the French proposal for the negotiation framework for the EU accession talks for North Macedonia. The session was held in a tense atmosphere, with the opposition MPs constantly shouting and displaying banners which call upon the MPs from the ruling majority to not adopt the French proposal. During the speech of Von der Leyen, Levica Leader and MP Dimitar Apasiev was constantly blowing a whistle, and after that put a banner saying “Macedonia Says NO” at the speaker booth while Von der Leyen was speaking, and left the hall. IN her speech, the EC President said that the French proposal is a unique opportunity for North Macedonia to start the accession talks with the EU, all by the way protecting the originality and the uniqueness of the Macedonian language. “You are finally on the road of peace and compromise instead of violence. Many people, including myself, are frustrated that your country has not yet started the accession talks with the EU, but now we have an opportunity to look forward and make decisive steps for securing our future. The French proposal protects your interests and takes into consideration the concerns of all involved parties. If it is approved, the accession process and the first inter-governmental conference may take place as soon as next week. Bilateral issues are not and cannot be a part of the EU accession framework, and the constitutional changes mentioned in the proposal will only strengthen your society, and we will complete this initial phase of the negotiations without any additional decisions,” Von der Leyen said, once again reaffirming that the Macedonian language will not be compromised in the entire process, and that the country should use this opportunity to start the EU accession talks. After Von der Leyen’s address, the session over the French proposal was officially started and Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski addressed the MPs, and the opposition MPs were constantly interrupting his speech by blowing horns or banging on the desks before them. “This is a session of great importance, because we are about to make crucial decisions about the future of our country. Time has come for us to finally start the processes for accession of our country in the EU. We all remember that I rejected the first version of the French proposal, but the upgraded version is much more acceptable, for it protects the Macedonian language, which once the process is started, will enter into official use in the EU. I, the President of the state and the entire government approved this proposal, and now I hope you all will make the right decision for the state, not for the party you come from, and will endorse this proposal so we can start our final journey towards EU membership, with protected and recognised Macedonian language,” Kovacevski said. After this, the opposition demanded a one-houor break from the session. VMRO-DPMNE MP Dafina Stojanoska demonstratively ripped apart a paper version of the French proposal, and called upon all MPs to reject it. “No matter what you do here, not a single document is valid or can enter into force without the ultimate seal of approval, which is given by the people, and the people do not want this proposal,” Stojanoska said. VMRO-DPMNE MP Dragan Kovacki attempted to burn the paper sample of the French proposal, but after his lighter malfunctioned, he ripped it apart, and started yelling at PM Kovacevski, telling him that “you will rot in jail for this treachery”. The MPs from SDSM on the other hand accused VMRO-DPMNE of spreading false news about the proposal and asked them to apologise to the citizens for lying that the Macedonian language is compromised with the proposal. The MPs from the opposition and the government continued to trade accusations over the proposal, prompting PS Talat Xhaferi to interrupt the session and schedule its continuation for Friday at 11:00 a.m.