MPs Remain Entrenched in Macedonia ‘Name’ Deal Debate

A parliamentary debate in Macedonia on changing the constitution to support the ‘name’ deal with Greece has yet to produce any signs that opposition MPs are closer to supporting the agreement.

At Wednesday’s start of the third day of a parliamentary debate in Macedonia on the constitutional changes needed to implement the “name” agreement with Greece, legislators from the ruling and and opposition parties appeared entrenched in their own positions.

On Tuesday afternoon, dozens of opposition VMRO DPMNE legislators withdrew their requests to take part in the debate, after the speaker, Talat Xhaferi, refused to allow the opposition leader, Hristijan Mickoski, to address the session because he is not an MP.

The impromptu request for Mickoski to address parliament came from the VMRO DPMNE parliamentary group.

Earlier on Tuesday, several opposition MPs said they would not vote to start the procedure for constitutional amendments that would change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia, as stipulated under the “name” agreement.

But many of them also urged the centre-left Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, to settle the matter through talks with opposition leader Mickoski.

VMRO DPMNE MP Krsto Jovanovski urged Zaev “not to press the legislators to vote ‘Yes’” but to first “sit down with Mickoski and find a solution.”

Another VMRO DPMNE MP, Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska, also called on party leaders to reach a compromise.

“Party leaders should help push this process. Their responsibility is huge, so that Macedonia does not remain isolated. An honest approach is needed when solving this big issue. We must acknowledge our own mutual mistakes, otherwise we won’t move forward,” Milevska said.

VMRO DPMNE MP Dragan Danev insisted that while the name deal was “harmful”, no compromise would be ideal.

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