Opposition in the wake of the local elections
In the wake of the local elections, Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) chairman Branko Crvenkovski this week guaranteed that early parliamentary elections are to take place in Macedonia. After the local elections (in which SDSM performed very well) Crvenkovski announced that the joint opposition will start to form a new parliamentary majority which will be sufficient for a vote of no-confidence in the Government of Ljubcho Georgievski.
"We will cooperate with all political parties and individuals who are not satisfied with the rule of Ljubcho Georgievski and think that it should be stopped. Their number is getting larger by the day," said the SDSM leader. The governing coalition dismiss all SDSM statements out of hand as ridiculous, stating that Crvenkovski will be "removed" by his "collaborators."
Albanian parties friction
Friction between the Democratic Party of Albanians in Macedonia (PDSh) and the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) has increased since the local elections. The daily Makedonija Denes carried an interview with Naser Ziberi (co-ordinator of opposition PDP) in which he said that the current government has to be overthrown by a new parliamentary majority, and a new provisional government has to be produced to take the country to snap polls.
Flaka (Albanian language pro-government daily) carried the headline "PDP prefers the course of isolation," reporting that the party decided not to invite the reporters of Albanian-language dailies Flaka and Fakti to their press conference held Wednesday.
Dnevnik reported that "All political parties support the agreement with the EU, with the exception of PDP." The daily noted the reactions of political party leaders regarding the Stabilisation and Association Agreement to be signed between Macedonia and European Union. PDP calls for the cessation of negotiations with the EU because the party sees itself as the victim of the first round of municipal elections.
Round two of the local elections
Preparation for the second round of the local elections and the re-runs of the first round on Sunday 24 September have been shrouded in pre-election "silence." The State Election Commission (SEC) has reported that the second election round will take place in a total of 53 municipalities and the re-voting of the first round election in 27 municipalities.
The large number of parties which contended the first round and the coalition parties separating and fielding individual candidates means that most of the municipalities will be decided in the second round of voting. This has already caused a great deal of agitation and shuffling within the system.
SDSM's coalition partners DA who ran separately in the first round have pledged their cooperation and support for the large opposition party, while PDP, the smaller of the two Albanian parties, has announced its withdrawal from the second round to "put an end to the [political] massacre PDSh is conducting on us." This accusation refers to (unsubstantiated) claims of violence and intimidation of PDP candidates and supporters by the larger rival party.
International monitoring bodies and the SEC have announced that a full report on the election will be available after the second round.
Border-related issues continue
President Boris Trajkovski will soon meet Defense Minister Ljuben Paunovski and Chief of Army Staff Jovan Andrejevski to discuss the integrity of Macedonia's northern border with Kosovo and Serbia.
Several incidents have been reported at the border. Most recently, members of a Macedonian reconnaissance team were injured by a fieldmine while conducting a routine vehicle patrol in rugged terrain at Kodra Fura near the Kosovo border.
Nova Makedonija (Pro-government daily) ran the headline "Terrorists are in possession of 'missing' mines" commenting on the frequent incidents at Macedonian border with Yugoslav province of Kosovo and suggesting that the "terrorists, smugglers and criminals from Kosovo" may have laid mines which could "surprise" Macedonian border guards.
EU trade liberalisation
The EU decision on trade liberalisation has been warmly received in Macedonia. There is a strong sense that Macedonia has access to an "open door" which will not remain open indefinitely—that is to say that opportunities should be seized and maximised.
Newspapers have filled pages with upbeat quotes from Prime Minister Ljubčo Georgievski's acknowledgement speech: "The European market is open to Macedonian products"(Flaka.) In the headline "The door is opened, we should not miss the door," Flaka comments on the upcoming signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the European Union and notes that the EU has granted Macedonia another privilege—asymmetric economic union.
Macedonian church in the Holy Land
This week the former director of the International Revenue Service (IRS), Sašo Staninov, has been appointed as adviser to the government, and was assigned to find a location in Israel to build a Macedonian church. This project is very popular within Macedonia and is seen as recognition of the legitimacy of the Macedonian autocephalous church at the highest international and religious levels.
In, out and passing through
Minister of Finance Nikola Gruevski travelled to London to meet Charles Frank, president of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). They will sign a credit agreement on the "Action Program for Development of the Communities and Environment," which addresses the water-supply system and the treatment of waste water.
The project (worth Euro 52.9 million) is jointly funded by the EBRD, grants of non-refundable aid from Switzerland, Germany, Greece and Portugal, and a contribution from Macedonia itself.
From London, Gruevski will travel on to Prague, where he will participate in the fifty-fifth annual assembly of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. While there he will meet Vice-President of the World Bank Johannes Linn, Executive Director of the World Bank for Macedonia Peter Steck, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Jean Louis Biankarelli, and other high officials.
Foreign Minister Aleksandar Dimitriov is to pay a one-day visit to Podgorica at the invitation of his Montenegrin counterpart Branko Lukovac. The talks will focus on the bilateral relations between Macedonia and Montenegro, and possibilities for strong economic cooperation in the future. They will also discuss the possibility of opening Consular Offices in Skopje and Podgorica—a significant indicator of future relations between the two states.
Foreign Minister Dimitriov has confirmed that the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the European Union will be signed during the EU and Balkan States Summit scheduled for 24 November.
Eleanor Pritchard, 25 September 2000
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