By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES and VESELIN TOSHKOV
SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has visited North Macedonia and Bulgaria in a bid to resolve the dispute between both countries that has seen European Union membership talks with both North Macedonia and Albania blocked. Bulgaria refuses to approve the EU’s membership negotiation framework for North Macedonia. That effectively blocks the official start of accession talks with its smaller Balkan neighbor. Scholz said that “the Western Balkans are of strategic importance” for Germany and that his country is “serious” in supporting European integration of the region. Scholz said Saturday that “North Macedonia and Albania deserve to start the membership talks.” He was speaking at a joint news conference with North Macedonia Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski in the capital Skopje.