N. Macedonia's support for EU accession drops by 25%: President
The North Macedonian President presents numbers that show there is a lack of enthusiasm to join the European Union by the country's citizens.
North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski highlighted on Wednesday that the popular support for European Union accession in his country had dropped by 25% in the last 18 months.
"I have to tell you that EU enthusiasm is not there. In the last 18 months only, the support for EU integration in my country dropped by 25% and now we are in the range of 60-62%. Just a few years ago we were in the range of 90%," Pendarovski pointed out in opening remarks at the EU-Western Balkans Summit hosted by the Friends of Europe Foundation in Brussels.
The North Macedonian leader considered that it was up to the EU's political leadership to show to the people in the Balkans that the bloc's membership was the best prospect for the country's prosperity.
The negotiation talks regarding the accession of North Macedonia to the EU started in mid-July in Brussels. North Macedonia has been a candidate for joining the bloc since 2005.
The country is one of the seven EU candidate countries, along with Albania, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Bulgaria was blocking the opening of negotiations until recently due to a dispute with North Macedonia over a long list of historical and linguistic issues.
Bulgaria considers the Macedonian language as a Bulgarian dialect, while the two countries dispute historical events and figures, mainly inherited from the Ottoman past.
North Macedonia has pledged to change its constitution to include Bulgarians among recognized ethnic groups and to implement a 2017 friendship treaty aimed at eradicating hate speech.
As a result, the Bulgarian parliament agreed in June to lift its veto in exchange for guarantees that North Macedonia would meet certain demands on disputed points.
In 2020, North Macedonia joined NATO after being forced to change its official name to get Greece to withdraw its veto on entering the EU and the military alliance.