Macedonia's leader hopes EU membership talks start in June

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Macedonia's prime minister says he hopes his country can launch membership talks with the European Union in June now that an agreement to end a dispute with Greece has been ratified.

Zoran Zaev negotiated a deal with his Greek counterpart last year that called for Macedonia to be renamed North Macedonia in return for Greece lifting objections to its neighbor joining NATO and the EU.

Zaev's government is set to sign NATO accession protocols under the name North Macedonia on Wednesday. If the membership process is completed, the country would be NATO's 30th member.

Zaev addressed joining the EU while in Bulgaria, which already belongs to NATO and the EU.

In the capital of Sofia on Monday, Zaev met Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who proposed eliminating bilateral trade tariffs.