MEPs expressed strong support for Bulgaria and Romania’s entry into Schengen, but criticized the country for its veto of North Macedonia’s accession to the EU. This happened during a debate with Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The first critical statement to Prime Minister Denkov regarding North Macedonia was made by the MEP from the Party of European Conservatives and Reformists Angel Djambazki. He also addressed the chairman of the “Renew Europe” parliamentary group, who defended Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen: “You didn’t mention a single word about the repression, the violence, the denial of the right to self-determination. There are people in your group who pretend not to see the violence against the Bulgarians in Macedonia. Explain it to them.”

“You did not mention the name of North Macedonia, whose access to the EU has been blocked by Bulgaria until now,” said the German MEP from the group of the Greens/European Free Alliance Reinhard Butikofer: “Can anyone question the sincere European aspirations of North Macedonia, which has gone so far as to change its name to open its door to Europe? After Mr. Djambazki’s hate speech, I would like to ask you, Mr. Prime Minister, be more specific – what will you do to open the door to North Macedonia?”.

To which the MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Andrey Slabakov replied: “I want to tell the colleague from the Greens that when they beat and kill Bulgarians and forbid them to self-determine, don’t tell me that Djambazki uses the language of hate. Just understand what is happening in Macedonia”.

“We were the first country in the world to recognize North Macedonia as an independent European country,” said Prime Minister Denkov and further: “Unfortunately, over the years our relations have deteriorated, and I do not think that Bulgaria is to blame for that. Therefore, I want to say clearly that at the moment Bulgaria has no other requirements towards North Macedonia, apart from those laid down in the EU decision last year year. There are no bilateral relations today between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, there are relations between North Macedonia and the EU. These must be fulfilled by North Macedonia in order to open the negotiation process. And in this regard, I do not accept any criticism of our country today.”