The so-called “French proposal” are in fact two draft documents that the French Presidency has sent to the Member States.
These are the PCM Negotiating Framework and the Council Conclusions on convening the First Intergovernmental Conference with Skopje.
The most important accents:
- The document states that “accession negotiations provide for special attention to be paid to the protection and non-discriminatory treatment of citizens from minority groups and communities in northern Macedonia”. To ensure this, progress on this issue will be closely monitored by the European Commission, which will report to the Council of the European Union.
- The Republic of Northern Macedonia must comply with the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the 2017 Neighborhood Agreement with Bulgaria.
- Regarding the Macedonian language, which Bulgaria does not officially recognize, the two countries will issue relevant declarations.
- Northern Macedonia will have to adopt with an inclusive process an Action Plan dedicated to the protection of minority rights in the areas of non-discrimination, anti-hate speech, education, effective measures, reporting mechanisms and the identification of responsible institutions. The implementation of this roadmap and Action Plan will be constantly monitored and regularly discussed at Intergovernmental Conferences during the accession process.
- It is envisaged that the negotiating framework will include a bilateral protocol between Sofia and Skopje on the implementation of the 2017 Agreement. It is not clear what is in this protocol and whether the other Bulgarian demands are included in it. It will be the key.
- The Council welcomes Skopje’s intention to amend its Constitution to include citizens of other nations living in the RSM, such as Bulgarians.
- It is proposed that two intergovernmental conferences be convened with Skopje. The first – on June 23. The second, which will be the real beginning of negotiations – only after our southwestern neighbor changes its Constitution.