Campaigns launched for referendum on September 30th

Skopje, 10 September, 2018 - 15:20 (META) 

Today, the campaign for the upcoming referendum (September 30th) was officially launched. Citizens will go to the polls and answer the ballot question “Are you for EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between Macedonia and Greece?”

Heading the campaign is the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, and Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi announced that they will carryout the campaign in a transparent and direct manner, without discrimination or prejudice and with respect for the will of each citizen.

In the Parliament’s campaign, 71 MPs from all parliamentary groups will participate, with the exception of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, who informed Xhaferi that they will not take part in the campaign and asked that the funds be spent for other purposes.

Xhaferi called on all participants in the campaign to act accordingly, correctly and with dignity in order for citizens to make the right decision on September 30th.

Parliament will purchase advertising space in some of the 65 media outlets, who were expected to deliver a price list to the State Election Commission for the referendum by August 10th. The media plan will be published via the Parliament’s official website and MPs will conduct the campaign on television and radio and will have nine minutes per hour to present their views.

Plenary sessions in Parliament during the campaign are not expected to take place, but the Speaker of Parliament does not exclude the possibility of holding an urgent session if necessary.

Hristijan Mickoski leader of VMRO-DPMNE said that this week the party will present their official position on the referendum. The remaining parliamentary parties have not yet announced specific information on when and how they will run their campaigns.

The formation of the OTA is still a financial enigma

Skopje, 7 September, 2018 - 21:40 (META) 

In regards to the question of how much will it cost for the establishment of the Operational-Technical Agency (OTA), the new body that will manage the wiretapping equipment in the country, the relevant institutions have kicked the ball into another court.

Today, Parliament voted for Zoran Angelovski as director of the OTA, but it seems that nobody knows how much money from the budget has been allocated for the implementation of the new Law on the OTA or whether they’re still calculating.

Instead of detailed data on the fiscal implications of the law, it is said that the financial resources needed to implement the Law on Operational and Technical Agency will be allocated from the budget.

The Ministry of Finance was asked, who is responsible for the state budget, how much money in the budget was provided for the establishment of the OTA. They sent a response to the Ministry of the Interior.

The Ministry of Interior, however, advised that a response be requested from Parliament, and referred the issue to the competent Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security. They did not answer the question sent to the official email address.

The OTA should start operating from November, and the establishment of this agency was one of the key recommendations by Priebe’s expert group, which required the prevention of wiretapping.

The Parliament unanimously voted Zoran Angelovski to be the head of OTA

Skopje, 7 September, 2018 - 15:56 (META) 

With 83 votes “for,” the Parliament has unanimously voted for Zoran Angelovski to be the Director of the Operative-Technical Agency (OTA) with a mandate of 5 years.

The proposal for Angelovski to be the Director of OTA was voted by the parliamentary Commission for Elections and Appointments after the ruling parties have reached an agreement out of 14 potential candidates.

After Angelovski was elected, the 59th session was stopped and it will continue as soon as the parliamentary commissions will discuss the several laws that have to be adopted in a shorted procedure.

SDSM will spend 400.000 euros on the referendum

Skopje, 29 August, 2018 - 13:32 (META) 

SDSM does not plan to spend more than 300-400 thousand euros on the referendum campaign. The campaign should pass in a pleasant and attractive atmosphere, after which citizens will vote “for”.

This was stated by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev yesterday from Kriva Palanka, who said that they should not be spent more money because, the referendum itself is not like parliamentary elections and does not require as much campaign costs.

“Our intention is for the referendum to pass in a pleasant and attractive atmosphere for the citizens, different than any other electoral process. Therefore, I believe that citizens will come out and vote “for” in such a pleasant atmosphere,” Zaev said.

Today, the extended time for parliamentary groups ends for announcing whether they will participate in the campaign and whether they are “for” or “against”. So far, only the ruling majority parties and MP Antonio Milososki from VMRO-DPMNE have voted in favor of an independent campaign. Mr Milososki is calling for a boycott, while VMRO-DPMNE’s official position on the referendum should be announced today.

Xhaferi gives parties three-day deadline to convey their positions on referendum

Skopje, 23 August, 2018 - 23:09 (META) 

Today, Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi notified parliamentary groups that they will have a three-day deadline to answer, whether they would participate in the public propaganda for the referendum, that should be conducted by Parliament, as well as on what kind of campaign they will lead and whether they will be “For” “or “Against” on the referendum issue.

The notification was addressed to coordinators of the parliamentary groups SDSM, DUI, VMRO-DPMNE, Besa Movement, as well as MPs from DPA and the Albanian Alliance.

Xhaferi simultaneously informs MPs that at the request of Parliament, the Government made a decision at yesterday’s session and approved to provide funds to Parliament in the amount of 80 million denars (1.3 million euros).

The three-day deadline Xhaferi has given coordinators of the parliamentary groups is due to the planned and suitable distribution of these funds for the realization of the public propaganda.

Yesterday, Parliament formed a Coordinated Body for conducting the referendum on the state level on September 30 and for conducting a public campaign. The Coordination Body will be headed by Xhaferi, and its members will be vice-presidents and coordinators of parliamentary groups.

Coordinated body for referendum to be led by Xhaferi, while VMRO-DPMNE miss coordinative meeting

Skopje, 22 August, 2018 - 17:16 (META) 

The Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia will form a Coordinated Body for the implementation of the referendum on a state level on September 30th and for the conduct of the public campaign.

This was one of the conclusions reached at today’s coordinative meeting led by Parliament Speaker, Talat Xhaferi. He met with the top representatives of the parliamentary groups, attended by the vice-presidents of Parliament and a representative of the Government, announced parliamentary services.

The Coordinated Body will be headed by Xhaferi, and its members will be vice-presidents and coordinators of the various parliamentary groups.

Parliament press services said that it will give an opportunity to all MPs who are “for”, “against” or who are  “boycotting” the referendum, to express themselves by proportional representation and to express their views and arguments to the public.

Also today, Parliament will be submitting a letter to the Government seeking funds for conducting the public campaign for which they be opening a special account.

Also at today’s coordinative meeting, the representative of the VMRO-DPMNE parliamentary group did not attend. Xhaferi’s office said that he would be contacting them today in order to reach a possible deal regarding public propaganda for the referendum.

Xhaferi: Deal with Greece to be in Official Gazette following referendum along with Law on Languages

Skopje, 31 July, 2018 - 15:38 (META) 

The official start of campaigning for the referendum will begin on 10th of September, and all those who want to participate in the campaign will do so, in whatever context they choose, whether they will support or boycott it, or call to vote against it, it depends on them, said Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi at today’s press briefing.

According to Xhaferi, the publication in the Official Gazette regarding the Law on the Ratification of the Agreement with Greece, which President Gjorge Ivanov refuses to sign, will take place after the referendum and it should be included in a package with the Law on Languages.

“Bearing in mind all the circumstances, I consider that the most suitable time for publishing the Law on the Ratification regarding the Agreement with Greece in the Official Gazette, should be after the general public expresses itself via the referendum, because in some kind of context the entire success of the agreement depends on the public’s decision in the referendum. If one law is published another one will follow the other, the laws can not be published differently when the basis is the same and that is, the not signing the laws by President Gjorge Ivanov”, Xhaferi pointed out.

Xhaferi did not want to comment on any hypothetical questions concerning what would happen if the referendum fails or if most of the public vote “against”, but stressed that it is least necessary to have early parliamentary elections.

Parliament votes on referendum with 68 votes in favor, while VMRO-DPMNE walk out

Skopje, 30 July, 2018 - 18:57 (META) 

Parliament has voted on the referendum over the name that will be of a consultative nature and will be held on September 30, with 68 votes in favor and no votes against. The ballot question will be: Are you for EU and NATO membership by accepting the Agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece.

The parliamentary group of VMRO-DPMNE submitted two amendments, but MPs were not present to explain them, so Parliament rejected them with 65 votes “against” and none “for” the first amendment, and with 64 votes “against” for the second amendment.

I know this decision is not easy. I know that it is a very serious matter for all of us at times and painful, but the EU and NATO are the only alternative we have, said the coordinator of the SDSM Parliamentary Group, Tomislav Tuntev, at the parliamentary session for formally announcing the referendum on the name.

Nikola Micovski from VMRO-DPMNE asked why the referendum will be of a consultative nature, eben though Prime Minister Zoran Zaev promised that it will be binding and said that the issue is not precisely formulated, which misleads citizens.
Redzep Memedi from Besa said his party will support the referendum because Macedonia’s NATO membership is key to security in the region.
Dzhevat Ademi from DUI emphasized that everyone will bear the responsibility on which side of history they stood and urged colleagues from VMRO-DPMNE to return to the hall and become part of the historical process.

SEC members mark the start of their work with an oath to Xhaferi

Skopje, 30 July, 2018 - 12:50 (META) 

The Chairman of the State Election Commission, Oliver Derkovski, Vice President Ditmir Sehhu, and members Elizabeta Postolovska, Boris Kondarko, Janake Vitanovski, Radica Risteska and Enver Saliu gave a solemn oath today to Parliament Speaker, Talat Xhaferi.

Derkovski said that, as the SEC, they will respect the laws and the Constitution and they will act and do everything in their power to organize the referendum. He pledged to conduct everything publicly and transparently.

“Today we gave a solemn oath and with that we mark the beginning of the SEC’s work. We also expect Parliament to make meaningful decisions on the SEC’s work. Everything will be conducted in a proper manner, you see the composition, members are experienced people, most of whom have already been members of the SEC, so I think that we will agree on the main task, firstly, by respecting the laws and the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia”, said Derkovski.

Referendum to be announced on Monday, parties yet to agree on ballot question

Skopje, 27 July, 2018 - 18:28 (META) 

The parliamentary session for announcing the referendum will not be scheduled for tomorrow, but on Monday, decided the parties after the coordination of Parliament.

Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi, in accordance with legal deadlines, will schedule the referendum for September 30, 2018, and by Monday the ballot question for the referendum should be settled. Meetings between representatives from VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM, on the topic of the ballot question, have not yet been agreed for the weekend; however consultations will take place in order to compose the ballot question, stated SDSM.

Although the ballot question for the referendum has not yet been defined, all previous statements made by the Prime Minister allude to the formulation “Are you for EU and NATO membership, by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece”.

At the last leadership meeting, the opposition said they would not accept a referendum question that has multiple meanings and answers.

The referendum will be a consultative one, because the issue is not about a change to the country’s borders or entering Macedonia into an alliance with other countries, for it to be of a binding nature. However, two days ago, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that regardless of the fact that it is a consultative referendum, the will of the people will be respected.

According to Zaev, if the majority of the consultative referendum opposes the agreement with Greece, then the will of the people will be respected, although the referendum is not binding.