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news 07 Sep 17

Macedonia Govt Defends Record After Completing 100 Days

Macedonia's new government has delivered an upbeat report on its first 100 days in office - which the opposition, however, has promptly denounced.

BIRN
Skopje
Macedonian Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev. Photo: sdsm.

Macedonia's new government on Wednesday completed its first 100 days in office, which Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he considered a success both in terms of domestic and foreign policy.

The opposition, however, said Zaev's new Social Democrat-led government was responsible only for “cancelled projects, economic downfall, borrowing, reckless and superficial moves".

Zaev on Wednesday presented a report on the government's initial work, under the motto, “Word is a word”.

Zaev said officials' activities and measures in the first 100 days had focused on reform in five sectors: returning peoples’ money, the economy, the restoration of institutions to serving the citizens, friendship with neighbouring countries and openness in the government.

After two years of political crisis marked by a corruption scandal and even by violent clashes in parliament in April, which left several MPs injured, Macedonia finally got its new government in May.

The government was elected by a slim majority in parliament, led by Zaev of the centre-left Social Democrats, amid continued tension between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians.

In terms of foreign policy, Zaev said the signing of an agreement on good neighbourly relations with Bulgaria offered proof that, “Where there is will, problems can easily be solved”.

The new government was also “leading the process of reaffirmation of relations with Greece”, Zaev said, referring to the long-lasting dispute with Athens over Macedonia's name, to which Greece objects - which Greece has used to block Macedonia's NATO membership and EU integration.

Zaev announced that a strategy for judicial reform would be adopted in the next few days, which the government sees as a priority for restoring the rule of law and trust in the judiciary.

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE, led by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, dismissed Zaev's first 100 days in office as “100 days of lies, incompetence and humiliation", however.

“One hundred days of non-working and cancelled projects, economic downfall, borrowing, reckless and superficial moves. That is what Macedonia and the citizens of Macedonia have suffered for the past 100 days," Gruevski said, referring to Wednesday’s report by Zaev.

Gruevski said the new government had come to power with the help of lies, manipulation and intrigue, which also was how they would continue to govern the country.

But Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, after meeting the Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on Wednesday, urged the opposition “not block the impressive start of the new government" - signalling that Western countries do not share VMRO DPMNE's viewpoint about the new administration in Skopje.

“I would like to send a plea to the current opposition not to block ... and not to refuse to cooperate constructively," Gabriel said.

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