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Ljubco Georgievski and Branko Crvenkovski, whose bitter political rivalry dominated the 1990s, agreed on Thursday to cooperate in unseating the VMRO-DPMNE-led government of Nikola Gruevski.
Ljubco Georgievski and Branko Crvenkovski | Archive photo
Two former prime ministers, from opposing ends of the political spectrum, after a meeting on Thursday in Skopje said they were ready to put aside old grievances to work on ending the rule of Nikola Gruevski who has been in power since 2006.
“We've had many differences in the past but there were situations when we were obliged to cooperate, as in the 1991 referendum for independence, the passage of the first constitution or the 2001 armed conflict. Today Macedonia faces equally difficult challenges,” said Crvenkovski, head of the main opposition Social Democrats, and Prime Minister from 1992 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2004.
“We are worried about the situation in which Macedonia finds itself and as experienced politicians we must cooperate to bring the country back onto the right track,” said Georgievski, a former leader of Gruevski's VMRO DPMNE party, and Prime Minister from 1998 to 2002.
Both have accused Georgievski’s successor at the helm of VMRO DPMNE of fomenting damaging conflicts with the country's neighbours, and of keeping Macedonia at arm’s length from EU and NATO membership.
They also accuse the Prime Minister of conducting ruinous economic policies and of spending too much money on unproductive refurbishments of the capital, a project called “Skopje 2014”, which includes buildings and monuments drawing inspiration from Classical Antiquity.
Although details of the cooperation deal are not public, the first test for the opposition leaders will come in March 2013, when they will have to face Gruevski in the local elections. Gruevski has not lost a single election since 2006.
“The results of the local elections will show how the party electorates have reacted [to the cooperation agreement],” Vlado Buckovski , another former Prime Minister from the ranks of the Social Democrats, told Radio Free Europe.
Georgievski's bitter rivalry with Crvenkovski dominated the politics of the 1990s, when the country underwent a turbulent period of translation from Communism to capitalism.
The two leaders then accused one another betraying the country, of undertaking criminal privatizations of state assets and of being too servile towards the country's large ethnic Albanian minority.
In 2003, when Georgievski quit as leader of VMRO DPMNE, he lobbied for Gruevski, then his vice-president, to be made the new leader. He soon he changed his mind and in 2004 he left VMRO DPMNE after failing to overthrow Gruevski who he meanwhile accused of incompetence.
After several years of political inactivity Georgievski staged a comeback in the June 2011 early general elections. But his VMRO People’s Party failed to secure a single seat in parliament.
The Social Democrats, however, increased their numbers in parliament in the last elections, but still lost to Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE. They say they might call for early elections if they win the forthcoming local elections in 2013.
Born on August, 31, 1970, in Skopje, Macedonia’s Prime Minister, the leader of the ruling centre-right VMRO-DPMNE party, is an economically savvy technocrat who over time has developed into a hard-line nationalist.
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