Aleksandar Damovski: The political crisis in Macedonia grew into an institutional and national one11 January 2017 | 13:00 | Radio FOCUS
FOCUS: Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov handed the mandate for forming a government to Nikola Gruevski, the leader of the VMRO-DPMNE party which won the elections. VMRO-DPMNE has a mandate but no majority, as is evident from the election results. 20 days to form a cabinet lie ahead. What are the options? We will speak with Aleksandar Dramovski, editor-in-chief of online news edition MKD. Will VMRO-DPMNE, and Nikola Gruevski in particular, manage to form a government and under what conditions?
Aleksandar Damovski: We can admit that this will be a very tough task for whoever won a second mandate as well, who will be next on the agenda if VMRO-DPMNE’s leader fails to form a government. The main problem came after January 7, as the three main Albanian parties in Macedonia announced their new platform. They have previously announced their demands as well, based on which they would enter a new government coalition. These demands completely change the philosophy and essence of the Ohrid Agreement. They create more and more new problems, which directly violate the nature of public order and the definition of the Republic of Macedonia state. That is why I believe that the problems now are a little more serious in regards to who will be Macedonia’s hero, if I may say so, who would accept these demands, just so that the power could be under their control, despite the fact that for a very brief period afterwards there will be strong discontent and protests against this power.
FOCUS: What do the Albanians actually want in order to become a coalition partner?
Aleksandar Damovski: They have made a serious list which they already announced among their other requests, announced during the campaign, which were sadly opened by the leader of the social democrats Zoran Zaev – bilingualism, i.e. adopting two official languages on the entire territory of the Republic of Macedonia, and amendments to the country’s constitution. But now, in addition to these requests they have attached a lot more things which directly affect Macedonians’ way of life, and Macedonian ethnicity, such as new hymn, new coat of arms, new flag, participation of the Albanians in the negotiations on the country’s name, adopting two official languages throughout the territory, defining the Republic of Macedonia as a binational state, a state of Albanians and Macedonians. And the others, the Serbs, Turks, Roma, Croats, and etc., to be classified in a separate category.
FOCUS: And Bulgarians?
Aleksandar Damovski: And Bulgarians, Vlachs. There are many.
FOCUS: Mr Damovski, under these circumstances, who would be the most likely partner of VMRO-DPMNE in government?
Aleksandar Damovski: The expectations are for it to be the Democratic Union for Integration – DUI, the party of Ali Ahmeti and previous coalition partner of VMRO-DPMNE. But after this platform that they announced, this would really be a tough task for Nikola Gruevski, and for VMRO-DPMNE, to convince its members and come up with motives to their voters with which to convince them that such a coalition is possible, with all of those questions and demands, and that a compromise and joint governing is achievable. That is why I say that this would be a tough task for both VMRO-DPMNE, as well as for the eventual second party – the one of Zoran Zaev, if Gruevski fails, and Zoran Zaev’s party forms a government as a second political power. This is the only way out, and it is more than evident, we have already said to some degree that after these elections we should have come out of the political crisis, but in the meantime these elections led to a new political crisis. The exit of which would most likely be new elections, maybe in May – June or September of next year.
FOCUS: Is the Democratic Union for Integration also part of these three Albanian parties which requested the redefining of the constitution and the two official languages?
Aleksandar Damovski: Yes. The only party which did not sign this platform is the party of Menduh Thaci – Democratic Party of Albanians. The ones who signed it are DUI with Ali Ahmeti, BESA – the new party which is becoming an increasingly more serious factor of Albanians in Macedonia, and the Alliance for Albanians of Ziadin Sela – mayor of Struga. While Menduh Thaci and DPA did not sign this platform, only they did not sign it.
FOCUS: Sadly, they would not have any actual effect.
Aleksandar Damovski: Yes, they could not play an important role in forming a new parliamentary majority, because they have won only 2 mandates.
FOCUS: Considering these extreme demands of the Albanians, what are the expectations for the eventual next elections? As it will likely get to that.
Aleksandar Damovski: Now Gruevski has 20 days to form a majority – 61 MPs or more. It is presumed that this would not happen, which means that there will be about 20 more days for the second political power to try and form a majority. This means that this entire month will go by in adjustments, bargaining, and negotiations for a new parliamentary majority. If this does not happen either, the only way out is new parliamentary elections, which could not happen less than 6 months after the last elections. I.e. the elections were on December 11, which means that the next parliamentary elections would be in May at the earliest.
FOCUS: Elections in Macedonia will be in May at the earliest?
Aleksandar Damovski: Yes. The truth is that this is now too much – political crises, political arrangements, Przino agreement 1 and 2, platforms. Indeed, the political atmosphere is too hot now from the inability of our leaders to reach an agreement, and for us to start living normally, as any other normal country.
FOCUS: How is all of this commented on in Macedonia, Mr Damovski?
Aleksandar Damovski: Very, very badly. There is no more patience. Businesses do not work normally, people do not live in peace, and now the snow crisis has blocked the country. All of this affects citizens very badly. The institutional crisis in the country, the inability of institutions to reach adequate agreements, and overcome the effects of the bad meteorological conditions – you know that a few days ago, the highway between Veles and Skopje was blocked by snow, it could not be cleaned, and it was the main road between north and south. This is a serious indicator of not only the political crisis, but also institutional and national crisis.
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