Greek Parliament starts the process of ratification of the Prespa Agreement

Athens, 21 January, 2019 - 19:50 (META) 

For the draft law on the ratification of the Prespa Agreement to come into force, it will be discussed today by the Commission for National Defense and Foreign Affairs in Greek Parliament.

On Saturday, the draft law was submitted to Greek Parliament, and is expected to be passed by Friday.

Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis is expected to hold a meeting with the vice presidents beforehand in order to determine the parliamentary procedure, ie how many meetings the commission will hold and when a plenary session is to be scheduled.

The bill proposed by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs contains three articles.

The first article is the signed agreement as a whole, the second article refers to raising the level of the Liaison Office in Skopje at the embassy and the Office of Consular, Economic and Commercial Affairs in Bitola at a Consulate General level. The third article explains that the law comes into force after its publication in the Official Gazette, and the ratification contract in accordance with Article 20.

VMRO-DPMNE calls on the institutions to boycott the Law on Languages

Skopje, 16 January, 2019 - 18:07 (META) 

Today, Nikola Micevski, Coordinator of the Parliamentary Group of VMRO-DPMNE and the Coalition “For a Better Macedonia”, on behalf of the party urged the institutions on central and local level, to ignore and boycott the law on languages ​​and said that if the people in charge in the institutions are faced with problems or threats, VMRO-DPMNE’s legal commission will be at their disposal.

“VMRO – DPMNE calls on all institutions on central and local level to ignore and boycott the operation of this unconstitutional and harmful law. If officials in the institutions are facing any problems or threats, VMRO-DPMNE and its legal commission are at their disposal for legal or any other assistance,” said Micevski.

He said that the law “on bilingualism” was unconstitutional and had been illegally signed by Talat Xhaferi and published in the Official Gazette to the detriment of the Republic of Macedonia and to the detriment of the cohesion in the society.

“The whole procedure of the government to push the law on bilingualism through, is illegitimate. The government abused the European flag and in the disguise of a reform law which was important for our entry into the Union, brought an unconstitutional law that would create legal chaos and confusion in society,” said the coordinator of the VMRO-DPMNE Parliamentary Group.

New amendments to Constitution published in the “Official Gazette”

Skopje, 14 January, 2019 - 20:42 (META) 

Amendments from 33 to 36, together with Constitutional Law on their proclamation, which were voted in with 81 votes, were adopted at the 75th session of Parliament, on Friday, and were published in the 6th issue of the “Official Gazette” this year, i.e. on January 12, 2019.

With these amendments to the Constitution, after the Prespa Agreement comes into force, the name of the country will be the Republic of North Macedonia. The Prespa Agreement will be official after it is ratified in Greek Parliament.

Sluzben vesnik ustavni izmeni 12jan19 crop - Portalb Sluzben vesnik ustavni izmeni 12jan19 - Portalb

Moscow: The constitutional changes are against the will of the people, the UN’s Security Council should discuss the name

Moscow, 14 January, 2019 - 18:54 (META) 

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department for Informing and Press Relations has called the passing of the new amendments of the Macedonian Constitution in order to change the country’s name as “an artificial change of the country’s name in order for an enforced entering of Skopje into NATO” and stated that the problem with the country’s renaming should be discussed by the UN’s Security Council in accordance with Article 3 of Council’s Resolution 845.

“It’s about the continuation of the process of the artificial changing of the country’s name under foreign pressure in order for Skopje to join NATO by force. This is a violation of Macedonian laws. The opinion of the President of the state and the majority of the population that reject the Prespa Agreement are being ignored. The constant protests in Skopje and other Macedonian cities show a deep polarization in the society. It is obvious that this manner of solving issues of national significance for the country’s future is not a reflection of the will of its population and cannot serve as a tool for a longterm solution for the name dispute” said the press release.

The Russian MFA state that the development of the occurrences in Greece i.e. the resignation of Panos Kammenos, the now former Minister of Defense and President of the Independent Greeks, SYRIZA’s coalition partner is talking about the “explosiveness of the situation.” Additionally, it accused that Greece was subjected to the same formula as Macedonia – a pressure in order for the Prespa Agreement to pass through the rejection of the will of the Greek nation.

“The opinion of the Russian Federation regarding the name dispute of the Macedonian state remains unchanged: a sustainable solution has to be found far from outside pressures, imposed solutions and conditions from forces outside, and a solution that will be based upon a wider public support, both in Macedonia and Greece, and within the rule of law. We think that this issue has to be discussed by the UN’s Security Council in accordance with Article 3 of Security Council’s Resolution 845.

Spasovski: What happened on the 27th of April will not happen again

Radovish, 11 January, 2019 - 20:04 (META) 

Moments before the final adoption of the constitutional changes is expected, and during tense protests in front of Parliament, Minister of Internal Affairs Oliver Spasovski today from Radovish would not directly answer the question whether an escalation of events is possible, as on April 27, 2017, when the protesters stormed Parliament and several MPs and journalists were brutally beaten.

“The Macedonian general public must know that what happened on the 27th of April will not happen again. Citizens should feel safe as the institutions are functioning properly and every day regardless if one is a party member. If a member of the public is planning to participate in disturbing the constitutional order, I’m want to send a message to them to give up their intentions because we are absolutely determined to keep the constitutional order and to look after the system,” said Spasovski.

The Minister of Interior was asked to comment on a statement made by VMRO-DPMNE party leader, Hristijan Mickoski that at the protests in front of Parliament policemen- provocateurs had infiltrated and he called upon citizens not to fall for such provocations.

“There are policemen who are doing their duty, that are protecting the public order and who guarantee the public’s safety. It is despicable for a party leader to underestimate a police officer that works for the benefit of all including his own safety,” said Spasovski.

He also explained that Mickoski is attending the protests with personal police protection.

“Actually, the VMRO-DPMNE party leader has police protection that he requested personally in order to be protected and now we hear him making such accusations. I think it is very inconvenient and despicable to asses the situation in such a manner,” said Minister Spasovski.

Constitutional amendments were passed with 81 votes

Skopje, 11 January, 2019 - 19:38 (META) 

With 81 votes in favor and no votes against or withheld, this evening, MPs have cast their votes at Parliament i.e. the amendments from 33 to 35, which are Macedonia’s obligation according to the Prespa Agreement that was signed on the 17th of June last year.

Previously, the Alliance of the Albanians and BESA’s MPs withdrew their amendments.

According to Constitutional law which was also passed, these amendments will come into force as soon as the Prespa Agreement comes into force completely i.e. as soon as it is ratified in Greek parliament. According to article 1 of this law, the amendments will not come into force and will be annulled if Greece doesn’t ratify the agreement.

As soon as the 33rd amendment comes into force, the citizenship will be Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia ” which neither determines nor defines the ethnic background of the citizens.” The adjective shall be “Republic North Macedonia” or “North Macedonia.”

With the 35th amendment, the Republic guarantees that it will follow the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of neighboring countries: the Republic of Albania, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Greece, Republic of Kosovo and Republic of Serbia.

Agreement reached with Kasami’s Besa on constitutional changes

Skopje, 11 January, 2019 - 17:36 (META) 

An agreement has been reached with Bilal Kasami’s wing of BESA, to vote on the constitutional changes, a spokesman for SDSM Kostadin Kostadinov said at a press conference this afternoon. He did not specify what exactly had been agreed, but stressed that it would be explained through party statements.

He said that the continuation of the session to vote on constitutional changes will be scheduled by the Parliament Speaker, Talat Xhaferi.

Kostadinov said he strongly denies,” the lies made by the president of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski and the leadership of the party that pressure has been put on MPs to vote on constitutional changes. ”

VMRO-DPMNE will not reveal whether MPs will attend protest in front of Parliament

Skopje, 9 January, 2019 - 16:08 (META) 

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE still say they will not support the constitutional changes, nor will they participate in the debate in Parliament in the third phase, which begins today at noon. Whether this means that MPs will go to the protest taking place in front of Parliament, the coordinator of the parliamentary group Nikola Micevski said that they will state their position at a press conference they are planning in the afternoon, probably at 13:00.

The session of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia is scheduled for noon, however the debate on constitutional changes will not begin immediately, as Tomislav Tuntev’s resignation from SDSM has to be concluded. Then the work of the State Election Commission and verification of Rubin Zemon’s mandate follows. Constitutional changes are expected to come to an end after the usual break for lunch.

However, the hearing is expected to not finish quickly, say parliamentary groups. Although, unofficially, the required majority of 80 MPs has been secured, including MPs from the Alliance of Albanians, Besa and independent MP Panco Minov, the hearing will continue until the end of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Athens.
In addition to meeting with the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, Merkel will also meet with the opposition leader of the New Democracy Party, Kyriakos Mitsotakis , who strongly opposes the Prespa agreement.

Zaev and Sela agree on constitutional changes – the preamble will be changed

Skopje, 8 January, 2019 - 18:33 (META) 

After today’s meeting at the Holiday Inn hotel in Skopje between with Prime Minister and SDSM President Zoran Zaev, leader of the Alliance of the Albanians (AA), Zijadin Sela, stated that they have reached an agreement and that MPs from his party will vote for the changes to the Constitution.

He said that due to the Alliance’s insistence, the separation of citizens will be removed in the Preamble.

“The meeting was in the spirit of agreement and compromise. We discussed the requests that the Alliance of Albanians have made. I can gladly confirm today and I hope it will continue over the next few days and with the vote in Parliament, that starting from today, we shall not have two categories of citizens as it was until now. Therefore, there will no longer be “citizens, like others” but only citizens and will continue with the Macedonian nation, part of the Albanian nation, the Turkish nation etc. I say this with pleasure that as a party we have contributed to all citizens for better representation, so that more of them feel equal with all other citizens. The AA supports the idea that Macedonia should become a member of NATO and EU. On the other hand, there are things in which we generally agree, but we need to find ways to accomplish that. We, as the AA will not abandon our demand that the Albanian language be defined as the Albanian language and not as an “other language”. We still haven’t reached an agreement or a compromise on this issue,” said Sela

Prime Minister Zaev also expressed his satisfaction an agreement was reached and confirmed that some words from the preamble will be deleted, so it doesn’t give the impression that certain citizens are only here temporarily.

“I want to express my satisfaction on the constructive talks we had and the sensitivity that the Alliance of Albanians has shown towards the Macedonian nation. Among the draft amendments, the AA’s proposal has been accepted in order to remove the words such as” that live within the borders” so it does not look as if citizens of nationalities such as Albanians, Roma, Vlachs are only here temporarily. Today, we removed the other “citizens” because technically it is a repetition, as “citizens” is stated twice. This way, we are making everyone be equal in the eyes of the constitution. Now the preamble will state “the Macedonian nation and part of the Albanian nation, part of the Turkish nation, etc” said Zaev.

Zaev: We will know if there is a majority for constitutional changes on the day of the vote

Skopje, 4 January, 2019 - 15:16 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is optimistic that the required majority will be secured in Parliament for the vote on constitutional changes, but says the number of MPs will be known on the day of the vote.

“We will know the final number on the day of the vote. The session is scheduled for January 9, and according to the statements from the opposition regarding their presence, I expect the hearing to last for two to three days. The act of voting will show the outcome of the debate, the adoption of amendments, remarks, etc. Talks with political parties will continue, tomorrow I have a meeting with Bela Kasami from the Besa Movement and I am glad that Albanian parties from the opposition bloc like Besa and the Alliance of Albanians support NATO and EU accession unambiguously,” Zaev said in response to a journalist’s question.

In regard to the ratification of the Prespa Agreement on the Greek side, Zaev said he trusts the word of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that he will secure a parliamentary majority for ratification of both the Agreement and the protocol for joining NATO.

“New Democracy is not against Macedonia’s NATO membership. 300 MPs in the Greek parliament need to vote for ratification of the protocol,” added Zaev

Regarding the letter by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Zaev sees it as encouraging the two countries for the significance of the value of the agreement. The only issue he disagrees with Stoltenberg is that the process should be completed in the middle or late February.

“Why would we wait for the middle or the end of February? NATO can submit a ratification protocol to the Greek parliament in late January or early February,” Zaev said.

As for early parliamentary elections, he says he personally opposes the idea, however it is not only up to him, but also the party and other stakeholders.