Commission for Constitutional Amendments adopts all draft amendments to change Constitution

Skopje, 12 November, 2018 - 13:04 (META) 

The Commission for Constitutional Affairs has adopted the fourth draft of amendments over the weekend, which ended the debate on the draft amendments to the Constitution, in accordance with the Prespa Agreement, between Macedonia and Greece.The draft amendments will be reviewed at a plenary session on December 1st, 2018.

The Commission began the debate on the amendments on November 7th and was scheduled to last 12 days, three days for each of the proposed amendments.

The first amendment proposes the replacement of the words, Republic of Macedonia, with the Republic of North Macedonia everywhere in the Constitution, apart from Article 36, which is written in a historical aspect. The second amendment in the Preamble of the highest legal act, are the ASNOM decisions which will be replaced with the proclamation of ASNOM and the Ohrid Framework Agreement, while the third adds a new stance that declares respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of neighboring countries. The fourth amendment proposes, in addition to confirming the Macedonian identity, that the Republic protects the rights and interests of its citizens residing or living abroad and promotes their ties to the motherland.

The establishment of draft amendments to the Constitution by Parliament is the second phase of the procedure for amending the Constitution. Draft amendments are established by a simple majority or 61 votes, after which will be reviewed at a public hearing.

The final decision for the adoption of amendments is conducted by a two-thirds majority or at least 80 votes. The amendment to the Preamble of the Constitution requires a Badinter majority.

Government accepts 8 amendments from the commission hearing on the budget

Skopje, 6 November, 2018 - 14:41 (META) 

At its 100th session, on the proposal of the Ministry of Finance, the Government reviewed and adopted the amendments to the budget re-balance for 2018 which was proposed at a commission hearing in Parliament.

“The eight amendments from the Government session were accepted as an addition to the proposal for amendments to the budget for 2018, and the new, integral text of the re-balance budget proposal will be followed at the adoption during a plenary session in Parliament,” the Government reported.

Opposition MPs submitted 180 amendments and criticized the Government for the weak economic growth and the non-realization of capital investments.

With the proposed budget re-balance from the Government, the largest allocation of funds is for the municipalities, in the amount of 3,020 billion denars, in order to reduce debt and unpaid bills.

Zaev: Four amendments to the Constitution, Ohrid Agreement will be added in the Preamble

Skopje, 2 November, 2018 - 13:02 (META) 

Through an inclusive and transparent process, the Government has drafted four draft amendments to amend the Constitution in accordance with the Prespa Agreement, announced Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at a the press conference in Government.

“The first amendment will be the replacement of the name Macedonia, with Northern Macedonia throughout the Constitution, except for Article 36, where there is a historical aspect. The second refers to the Preamble of the Constitution, where the decisions of ASNOM are replaced with the proclamation of the First ASNOM meeting and the Ohrid Framework Agreement is added to be a constitutive element of the state. In the third amendment, only one paragraph has been added, and that is that the Republic respects the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the neighbouring countries, which gives stronger guarantees of the durability and inviolability of the borders with Greece, although it applies to all neighbours. In the fourth amendment, in addition to confirming the Macedonian identity, it states that the Republic protects the rights and interests of its citizens home or abroad, and promotes their ties to the homeland,” said Zaev.

Answering a journalist’s question as to why he changed the decision for the Ohrid Framework Agreement to be part of the Constitution, the prime minister said that after a debate with MPs, he decided since the Constitution was already being opened, that the important document should be added, which has already been incorporated into the Constitution.

“The Ohrid Framework Agreement has been fully incorporated into the Constitution so far, and the argument that was given during the debate with MPs and the Government was that while the Constitution is open, it is time to include the title of the Framework Agreement as a constituent element because it is part of our Constitution, and therefore we decided that it should remain,” Zaev said.

When asked what was disputed with ASNOM to change this in the Constitution, Zaev said that now the Constitution will refer to the announcement of ASNOM, instead of the decisions of ASNOM because, if the change is not made, it would cause certain problems in certain points in the future of the cooperation between Macedonia and Greece.

“This is because part of the decisions from ASNOM say “Macedonians from Greece and Bulgaria are united”. That is not friendship. The proclamation does not have that part and we refer to it because it talks about the unity in the country, democracy for statehood, freedom and human rights, and that is a fair approach to building friendship,” Zaev said.

The prime minister said that academic experts assessed that the draft amendments were in accordance with international law, adding that the full text would be announced and appealed for the process to continue with the same inclusive dialogue.

Zaev: There is no need to further open Pandora’s Box

Skopje, 30 October, 2018 - 17:15 (META) 

Today, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that there is no need to further open Pandora’s Box, while commenting on moves made by the Albanian opposition – the BESA wing led by Bilal Kasami and the Albanian Alliance, who submitted draft amendments to the Constitution that will result in Macedonia strictly being defined as a civil state, and the Albanian language equal with the Macedonian language.

Regarding yesterday’s statement by Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Bujar Osmani on the TV show “Top Tema” on Telma television, that the Ohrid Agreement should be included in the preamble of the Constitution, the prime minister said that the issue was closed in 2011.

He added that he does not expect the process of constitutional changes in Parliament to be blocked, especially not from VMRO-DPMNE

Parliamentary session for constitutional changes begins

Skopje, 15 October, 2018 - 14:01 (META) 

The parliamentary plenary session for the Government’s proposal for constitutional changes which transpired from the Agreement with Greece has begun. The government’s proposal for constitutional changes will be clarified by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

MPs from VMRO-DPMNE are present at the session, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who after asking for today’s hearing of the SPO’s “TNT” case be postponed, could attend the session. The session began with a delay due to the coordination of VMRO-DPMNE’s parliamentary group.

Before the session, MP Ilija Dimovski from VMRO-DPMNE asked for the proposal for constitutional changes be removed from the agenda because, as he says, Parliament does not have the electoral legitimacy to decide on these changes.

“Not one MP from this Parliament made a promise to change the Constitution,” said Dimovski.

Dimovski’s proposal was rejected with 39 votes “for” and 67 “against”.

In front of Parliament, a dozen citizens organized by the Citizens’ Association “Prerodba” held a protest, where they announced protests and blockades in front of Parliament every day at 10:00am.

Emergency Government session for constitutional amendments

Skopje, 8 October, 2018 - 16:06 (META) 

Today, the Government will hold an emergency session at 16 o’clock. The only item on the agenda will be:  Proposal for accession to the amendment of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, with directions for amending and supplementing the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.

For now, it is unknown whether the Government has secured a two-thirds majority in Parliament for constitutional changes in order for the Prespa Agreement to pass.

Council of Europe warn of restrictive changes to the media in the Electoral Code

Strasbourg, 10 August, 2018 - 19:39 (META) 

Yesterday, the Council of Europe issued a public warning on its platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, regarding several amendments to the Electoral Code which could jeopardize the work and freedom of the media in Macedonia. The warning says that the Macedonian state is the source of such a threat to the freedom of the media, reports the Association of Journalists of Macedonia.

The warning follows AJM’s demands to the Council of Europe’s platform, who in their reaction refer to the joint statement made by the AJM, the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and the Ethics Council.

“Several amendments to the Electoral Code were passed on 25 July 2018 by the Macedonian Parliament in a fast-track procedure, as a result of a political agreement between the leaders of the four main political parties. An amendment to the Electoral Code empowers the State Election Commission to register and monitor online media reporting on the elections. In addition, the Article 181a of the law provides for fines of up to 4,000 Euros to traditional and online media for their ‘unbalanced or impartial reporting’”, warns the Council of Europe on the platform.

The warning was addressed to the Macedonian Parliament, which is expected to clarify these changes that limit the freedom of the media in the coming period.

The Council of Europe have set the alarm concerning restrictive changes to the media in the Electoral Code.

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’s new structure and laws were adopted that previously were agreed at leaders’ meeting

Skopje, 26 July, 2018 - 14:42 (META) 

This afternoon, without explanation or discussion, Parliament has chosen the new structure for the State Election Commission (SEC) and the amendments to the laws that were agreed at leaders’ meeting on Monday.

The SEC’s members were elected with 100 votes “for” without anyone reported.

Oliver Derkovski from VMRO-DPMNE has been chosen to be the chairman of the Commission, and as vice-president Ditmir Shehu from DUI. The committee is made up from Elizabeta Postolovska from VMRO-DPMNE, Boris Kondarko, Janaki Vitanovski and Radica Ristevska from SDSM and Enver Saliu from Besa.

With 99 votes “for” and without any MPs registered for discussion the amendments for the Electoral Codex were voted, the Law concerning Government and the Law on Financing of Political Parties.

The amendments regarding the Electoral Codex refer to the part for the financing of political parties, where there is a reduction concerning the amounts that can be donated by individuals and legal entities to the parties. Regarding the Law on Government, the MPs made a decision to make changes in the part of the pre-election period where a technical government would be elected according to the Przino agreement, between the MPs from the opposition and the government.

Agreed terms from Leaders’ Meeting yet to be implemented in Parliament

Skopje, 24 July, 2018 - 16:16 (META) 

The Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia did not hold a session which was announced yesterday, where leaders were meant to agree on the election of members of the State Election Commission, amendments to the laws for financing political parties and to organize future technical governments before elections in accordance with the Przino principle.

The Parliamentary Committee on Elections and Appointment Issues chaired by Ilija Dimovski from VMRO-DPMNE, yesterday after the leader’s meeting, began the procedure for the election of SEC members by submitting a list of candidates. Parliament Speaker Xhaferi has asked the parties to state which candidates they will support.

However, VMRO-DPMNE did not submit a formal list of candidates to Xhaferi’s office, because of this, the procedure for selecting SEC members cannot go any further. The SEC is the body who are meant to conduct the referendum regarding the Agreement with Greece.

Officially, none of the parties have revealed why the session did not take place, where they were meant to approve what was agreed at the leaders’ meeting.

After yesterday’s leaders’ meeting, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that although there is no agreement on the referendum as of yet, the agreed on the laws for the government, ie the financing of political parties, as well as the selection of the SEC will be respected.