Parliament Ratifies North Macedonia's NATO Accession Protocol

February 20 (BTA) - At its sitting on Wednesday,
Bulgaria's National Assembly ratified unanimously, with the
votes of all 140 MPs present, the NATO Accession Protocol of the
 Republic of North Macedonia. The sitting was attended by North
Macedonia's Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi.

A report of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee presented
 the chronology of North Macedonia's accession process, starting
 with NATO' 2008 Bucharest Summit  where it was decided to
invite the country to join the Alliance once a mutually
acceptable solution to the name dispute with Greece was found,
and ending with the signing of the Accession Protocol by the 29
member countries' Permanent Representatives to NATO on February
6, 2019.

The Committee's report says that Bulgaria actively contributed
to the decision on North Macedonia's inclusion in the active
dialogue  for partnership with NATO as early as in 2008. By
signing the bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Good-neighbourliness
 and Cooperation in Skopje on August 1, 2017, Bulgaria
reconfirmed its support for North Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic
integration. Wednesday's ratification of the Accession Protocol
Bulgaria's consistent policy on establishing lasting security
and prosperity in the region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva
said in the plenary chamber that Bulgaria has consistently
supported the Western Balkan countries' entry in NATO. North
Macedonia's entry in the Alliance marks a new stage in bilateral
 cooperation with Bulgaria, she noted.

Bulgaria will continue to encourage and support North Macedonia
on its path to the EU, Zaharieva also said, adding that she is
confident the accession negotiations will begin in June 2019. "I
 am confident that the right lessons have been learned from the
mistakes of the past, and that the future ahead of us is a
common one, just like our past is," the Foreign Minister said.

MPs of GERB, the United Patriots and the Movement for Rights and
 Freedoms (MRF), and independent MP Spas Panchev addressed

GERB Floor Leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov recalled that Bulgaria was
the first country to recognize Macedonia's independence. He said
 that NATO will bring greater security to the region and that
Talat Xhaferi has shown how protecting North Macedonia's
interests can help protect the entire region's interests.
MRF Floor Leader Mustafa Karadayi said that his party has
consistently supported the path of Euro-Atlantic development.
"We believe that this is the path to strong and stable Balkans,
to peace and prosperity, to countering nationalism and
populism," he noted.

The United Patriots called for strict observation of the
bilateral Treaty of Friendship.

Ataka leader Volen Siderov proposed that an annex to the Treaty
be adopted to guarantee that there will be no encroachments on
Bulgarian history.

MP Yulian Angelov (VMRO) said that the two countries will be
better off if they do not live in lies and if they support each

In his words, the next step is to bring down the border between
the two countries which is what will happen when North Macedonia
 joint the EU.

National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) leader Valeri
Simeonov said he supports North Macedonia's NATO membership but
is not happy with the way Macedonia's citizens of Bulgarian
self-consciousness get treated. "Our common history calls for a
more equitable attitude and observation of the rights of all
Bulgarians in Northern Macedonia," he argued.

According to him, Northern Macedonia should rectify its
behaviour and put an end to the destruction of Bulgarian

At a joint news conference with her North Macedonian counterpart
 Xhaferi, National Assembly Chair Tsveta Karayancheva said that
Wednesday's ratification of the Accession Protocol shows
Bulgaria's resolution to continue solving the problems in the
region and caring for collective security not only in the
Balkans but also in Europe.
For a very long time, the Balkans were a byword for
confrontation but the example that Bulgaria and North Macedonia
gave firmly confirmed the common determination to work for
peace, stability and sovereignty, Karayancheva also said.

Xhaferi said he is confident that having Bulgaria as a neighbour
 is a strong guarantee that North Macedonia, as well as the
entire Balkan region, will develop in the right direction: one
that brings peace, stability, progress and prosperity. "It is
good to have true friends; the feeling is even better when they
are our immediate neighbours," he added.



Source: Sofia