Bulgaria interim government to maintain veto on North Macedonia's EU talks

·1 min read

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's incoming interim government on Wednesday ruled out any change in the country's veto on the launch of European Union accession talks with North Macedonia.

Last November Bulgaria blocked the official start of the accession talks with its smaller Balkan neighbour due to disputes over history and language. Sofia has also accused Skopje of hate speech and failure to implement a 2017 bilateral friendship treaty.

"Bulgaria's framework position (on the issue) was accepted by consensus among all political parties in the Bulgarian parliament. As an interim government, we have no authorisation to change that," the new foreign minister, Svetlan Stoev, told reporters.

The interim Cabinet, which took office on Wednesday after parties failed to agree on forming a new coalition government following an inconclusive April election, will lead Bulgaria until after a second snap parliamentary poll on July 11.

Stoev, 60, a career diplomat, said he would make all efforts to maintain a dialogue with North Macedonia.

"From there, everything is in the hands of officials in North Macedonia. They know very well the Bulgarian position and should not speculate that there will be any change in the next two or three months while this interim government is in office," he said.

Sofia wants Skopje to recognise that its nation and language have Bulgarian roots and wants it to put an end to anti-Bulgarian rhetoric. North Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic, says its identity and language are not open to discussion.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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