The attention of the press has been firmly focused on two issues this week: one domestic and one international. The domestic issue was the (apparent) denouement of the crisis of parliamentary majority that has been gathering for many weeks.
The crisis was precipitated by the departure of the DA led by Vasil Tupurkovski, from the coalition and the subsequent period of speculation about the impact this would have on the government. The call for a vote of no confidence that was threatened by the SDSM failed to materialise this week after a mind-numbing exercise in number shuffling that secured the incumbent coalition government under Ljubčo Georgievski.
There is not enough space here to detail the hypothetical strategies and figures that have been bandied around this week or to reproduce the rumours of defection or realignment that have abounded. In actual fact, they are not particularly illuminating. Instead, the final results will be outlined and the new ministerial positions detailed.
MPs who have joined the VMRO-DPMNE/PDPA-NDP coalition:
Pavle Todorovski (DA)
Alija Shakij (DA)
Risto Spanakov (DA)
Amdi Bajram (Roma MP)
Composition of new coalition balance:
VMRO-DPMNE (43 seats)
Independent Albanian MPs (2, formerly of PDP)
Democratic Alliance of Albanians in Macedonia (1)
This new majority flexed its muscles by collecting 64 signatures to a letter asking for the resignation of parliamentary speaker Savo Klimovski. The new arrangement did not emerge without speculation as to how VMRO secured the new participants; allegations of enormous cash payments, promises of directorships and other standard forms of "payment" abounded but never achieved concrete status or specific details.
Before the new ministers were appointed, the five outgoing DA ministers and Vasil Tupurkovski exercised their right to explain their resignations and the abandonment of the coalition. Tupurkovski pointed to the differences between DA and VMRO-DPMNE in the economic sphere, DA's discontentment about the handling of the privatisation process and irregularities in the 1999 and 2000 elections. Tupurkovski accused President Trajkovski of participating in the harassment of DA MP's and suggested that Western diplomats in Macedonia interfere in the country's internal affairs.
The New Cabinet:
Zoran Krstevski (Liberal Party)—Minister without portfolio, soon to be promoted to deputy minister in charge of European integration
Srgan Kerim (Liberal Party)—Minister of Foreign Affairs
Besnik Fetai (PDPA-NDP)—Minister of Economy
Marjan Dodevski (VMRO-DPMNE)—Minister of Ecology
Nenad Novkovski (VMRO-DPMNE)—Minister of Education and Science
SDSM have announced that the threatened vote of no confidence may still proceed, but they seem likely to wait and see how the new coalition settles down before proceeding.
IMF stamps Macedonian arrangement
The IMF board of directors has approved the USD 36 million credit arrangement intended to fulfil the void in the balance of payments. This approval comes after several months of negotiations between Macedonia and the IMF. The terms of the agreement are that Macedonia should have an inflation rate of 2.2% by the end of 2000 as well as 6% increase in GDP and USD 678 million foreign currency reserves.
There have been concerns this week that the outbreak of violence in the PMB (Preševo, Medvegje, Bujanoc) region of southern Serbia, which shares a direct border with Macedonia (joining the country just about the town of Kumanovo), will result in a new wave of refugees as Albanians may flee the reprisals they expect from the Serb military and security forces.
By the end of the week, the situation in the PMB region had eased a little and a quarter of the refugees who had fled to Kosovo returned, and an immediate crisis looked less likely. However, this is an issue that Macedonia will watch closely over the coming weeks.
Eleanor Pritchard, 1 December 2000
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