On 22th May 2021, North Macedonia received support in its bid to begin European Union membership talks from Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia. The day before, Bulgaria said it planned to continue to exercise its veto to block the Western Balkans nation from joining the EU.
Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007, wants Skopje to acknowledge that both its identity and language have Bulgarian roots.
Such "cultural" vetoes existed before in the Western Balkans region, writes Luke Bacigalupo for EUobserver:
🇬🇷 - 🇲🇰 From 1991 to 2019, Greece blocked North Macedonia´s path towards EU integration over its name.
🇸🇮 - 🇭🇷 In 2009, Slovenia blocked Croatia's negotiations with the EU over the demarcation of a maritime border in Piran Bay.
🇭🇷- 🇷🇸 In April 2016, Croatia blocked Serbia's bid on the basis of concerns over the treatment of the Croatian minority in Serbia and Serbia's handling of war criminals.
"This demonstrates that cultural disagreements are deep-rooted, and require just as much, if not more, effort to resolve as territorial and other political disputes", concludes Luke Bacigalupo.