Police in North Macedonia say a protest over a proposal aiming to break a deadlock on the country’s efforts to join the European Union has left 47 police officers injured
“No negotiations with fascists!” — Macedonians are protesting against joining the EU.
A series of rallies took place in Northern Macedonia due to rumors about the readiness of the authorities to join the EU on Bulgarian terms.
Sofia demands that Skopje recognize the Bulgarian minority in the Constitution, agree that the Macedonian language is a dialect of Bulgarian and rewrite history.
If these requirements are met, Bulgaria is ready to negotiate the accession of Northern Macedonia to the European Union.
This causes discontent among the population — the protesters have been defending their culture for the fourth day under the slogan “Macedonia is not for sale”.
On the eve of the protests turned into riots, as a result of which 47 policemen were injured.
The injuries occurred after a group of mostly young people broke off from the main protest, throwing stones, metal bars, eggs and Molotov cocktails at the parliament building in Skopje late Tuesday.
Thousands of people have protested nightly since the weekend over a French proposal for a compromise aimed at lifting objections by neighboring Bulgaria to North Macedonia joining the European Union.
Police said 11 protesters were detained. Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski condemned the attacks on the police, saying violence cannot be justified.
Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski visited the injured police officers in a hospital Wednesday. He said an investigation into the instigators of the violence was underway, and warned they would face the “strictest possible punishments.”
“We all know very well who is behind the protests and who called for them,” Spasovski said.
The center-right main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, many international law experts and civic organizations claim that the French proposal favors Bulgarian demands which dispute Macedonian views of regional history, language, identity and heritage.
North Macedonia has been a candidate for EU membership for 17 years. The country received a green light in 2020 to begin accession talks, but no date for the start of the negotiations has been set.