There is no change in Bulgaria’s position on the start of EU accession talks with Macedonia at today’s meeting of the General Affairs Council, BNR reported, MIA reports from Sofia.

The Bulgarian veto remains, although, according to a diplomatic source, Bulgaria’s planned sharp position, which was to be expressed before the Council, was not expressed due to the Struma highway tragedy.

Bulgaria’s Permanent Representative to the EU, Rumen Alexandrov, first expressed deep condolences over the accident in which 45 Macedonian citizens were killed, noting that Macedonia does not yet meet the criteria for holding the first intergovernmental conference.

He added that in recent months Sofia has proposed a number of options for resolving the pending issues as guarantees for the rights of people with Bulgarian self-awareness, and that Macedonia should take concrete binding obligations, some of which should be fulfilled in the short term, and others to be among the requirements of the future negotiating framework. Alexandrov said no progress could be expected before that happened.

Slovenian State Secretary for European Affairs Gašper Dovžan, as reported by MIA from Brussels, said that a major focus of today’s meeting was on the Bulgarian-Macedonian dispute.

I am glad that there is general support for the whole process, but there are still bilateral issues, especially raised by Bulgaria. But I hope that by the end of our EU presidency we will be able to solve the problems, this process must be positive, Dovžan said.