On Friday the saga of the Bulgarian veto over the EU's decision to launch membership negotiations with N. Macedonia continued both in Sofia and in Brussels where European and Western Balkan leaders met. Meanwhile, Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski described the current terms of the EU Council's proposal for dropping the Bulgarian veto as unacceptable.
Bulgarian MPs back French-sponsored solution to the N. Macedonia veto impasse
With 170 votes "in favor," 37 "against," and 21 abstentions, the National Assembly voted on Friday to approve the French Presidency of the Council of the EU's proposal over N. Macedonian and Albanian accession. The French proposal is designed to break the longstanding impasse over the issue. The bill, introduced by Democratic Bulgaria, gained the support of WCC, GERB and MRF with only TISP, BSP and Vazrazhdane in opposition.
The bill declares that Bulgaria will support any step towards European integration of N. Macedonia if the negotiating framework and the Council's conclusions are amended to ensure that Bulgarians in the Macedonian constitution are "on an equal footing with other peoples". The decision effectively allows the Bulgarian Foreign Minister to sign the protocol alongside her Macedonian colleague, and then allows the Prime Minister to drop the veto in Brussels. It is still unclear if the Macedonian side will change its position on the protocol's terms, however.
Foreign Ministry lambasts Edi Rama over offensive remarks
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria published an official position in which it criticized Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama over his comments at Thursday's EU-Western Balkans meeting, where he branded the Bulgarian veto that blocks N. Macedonia, and by extension - his own country's EU accession as "a disgrace". "We hear unprovoked, heavy, offensive remarks by one government leader We expect the Albanian Prime Minister to stick to a tone that is appropriate for a politician from an EU candidate country," the Bulgarian MFA wrote. In response, Mr Rama posted a tweet deriding the MFA's position. He added that "I have an issue too with the way Bulgaria wants to solve bilateral issues by using the enlargement process as a vehicle of kidnapping two NATO countries! Easy friends: Lift the VETO or bear with me!"
Health Ministry approves fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine
The Bulgarian Ministry of Health has approved the recommendations of the Immunization Surveillance Panel regarding administering a fourth dose (second booster) of the iRNA vaccines against Covid-19 to anyone over 18 who wants it. The second booster dose may be administered at least four months after the first booster for people who completed their full vaccination course with a two-dose vaccine before that.