World Bulletin / News Desk
Macedonia on Tuesday signed a deal to mend relations with neighbouring Bulgaria in a bid to speed up its NATO and European Union accession after a decade of setbacks.
The agreement signed on Tuesday by Macedonian and Bulgarian leaders represents a milestone in Skopje's foreign policy after its conservative VMRO-DPMNE party left office in December after 10 years in power.
According to the text, the deal means Bulgaria "will share its experience in order to help the Republic of Macedonia to meet all necessary criteria of EU membership and will support it for NATO membership."
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev praised the "historic" deal and Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov said it "shows to EU that turbulent Balkans, which has passed through a lot of troubles, could solve problems by agreements without mediators."
The accord was approved unanimously by Bulgarian lawmakers, supported even by nationalists who consider Macedonia part of the Bulgarian nation.
Relations between Skopje and Sofia have been strained for years.
Bulgaria considers the Macedonian language as a dialect of Bulgarian and speeches made by visiting Macedonian officials were routinely not translated.
However, since Zaev's first visit in June, Bulgaria is providing translation of his remarks as a sign of a good will.
It also refuses to recognise its own Macedonian ethnic minority and Macedonian schoolchildren are still taught that their country was occupied by Nazi-ally Bulgarians during World War II.
As part of the deal, a research team from both countries have agreed to examine the content of school textbooks.
The two countries have also agreed to open a train line from Sofia to Skopje.
Macedonia's bid to join the EU and NATO has been blocked for some time by Greece.
Athens says the country should not call itself Macedonia because Greece's northern province bears the same name, and in 2008 vetoed Skopje's attempts to join NATO.
Greece claims a historical right to the term Macedonia because the heart of Alexander the Great's ancient kingdom lies in its northern province of Macedonia.
Ould Ghada, prominent opposition figure, was arrested last week
New Unified Combatant Command 'will strengthen our cyberspace operations'
Opposition lawmakers refuse to attend session announcing decree
The 15 council members held the commemoration at the start of a session dedicated to the crisis in Yemen.
Catalonia police spokesman Josep Lluis Trapero added that a driver who mowed down crowds of pedestrians in the first attack in a busy Barcelona street Thursday could be among five suspects later shot dead in a nearby city.
Massoud Barzani, General Joseph Leonard Fotel discuss fight against ISIL, planned referendum on region’s independence
Sergey Lavrov, Sigmar Gabriel say there is 'no alternative' to political, diplomatic solutions
UN agency says civilians in South Sudan keep flocking to Ethiopia as fight between government forces, rebels continues
Around 1,000 migrants, refugees to be moved to 18 sites across Ile-de-France region
Victim's name will not be released until family is informed, says Turkey's embassy in Madrid
For his part, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told RTL radio that "the number of those who have been seriously injured may perhaps be even higher at around 17."
New York Police Department officials said the force would hold a press conference but declined to provide scheduling details.
Death toll feared to rise due to severe conditions of the many injured
The pickup truck, which had an improvised white wooden trailer constructed over the back, was transporting them in "overcrowded and unsanitary conditions," said a state police report seen by AFP.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured when a driver deliberately slammed his vehicle into crowds on Barcelona's most popular street -- Las Ramblas -- in what police qualified as a "terror attack."
The van attack that mowed down pedestrians on Barcelona's most famous street on Thursday killing at least 13 people was the latest fatal assault on a European city.