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News 10 Aug 17

Macedonian Opposition Launches No-Confidence Campaign

Just over two months since the new Social Democrats-led government took office, the opposition has launched no-confidence motions against three of its ministers, with more likely to come.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
VMRO DPMNE MP Antonio Milososki

The opposition VMRO DPMNE party has begun what appears to be a campaign of no-confidence motions in parliament, although they are not likely to succeed, as the Social Democrats and their ruling coalition partners hold a small but solid majority among the 120 MPs.

The VMRO DPMNE, which was in power for 11 years until May this year, launched its latest motion of no confidence on Wednesday against Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov.

VMRO DPMNE MP Antonio Milososki told a press conference that the main reason for the motion against Dimitrov was the recently-signed friendship agreement with neighbouring Bulgaria which his party claims is harmful to Macedonia’s national interests.

The agreement was highly praised by Brussels and Washington as a positive breakthrough and an example of successful problem-solving in the Balkans.

The opposition party also accuses Dimitrov of being responsible for "unlawfully" stopping a procedure that would have put VMRO DPMNE MP Aleksandar Nikolovski in the key post of Macedonian ambassador to Brussels.

It further accuses Dimitrov of being an accomplice in an alleged government plan to permanently settle migrants on Macedonian soil, which the government has denied.

On Tuesday, the VMRO DPMNE asked for a no-confidence vote against Social Policy Minister Mila Carovska, also accusing her of planning to allow migrants to stay in the country permanently as part of the draft Strategy for Integration of Refugees and Foreign Citizens 2017-2027.

Carovska also denied this.

The VMRO DPMNE also asked parliament on Tuesday to dismiss Agriculture Minister Ljupco Nikolovski.

The opposition party accuses Nikolovski of failing to competently deal with the slew of wildfires that have hit the country in the past month.

The VMRO DPMNE said that it might file more motions against the new government’s ministers in the near future.

The Social Democrats responded on Wednesday by saying that the no-confidence motions were "unfounded" and that they were just a publicity stunt ahead of local elections slated for October.

"Through these unfounded non-confidence motions, the VMRO DPMNE is trying to keep Macedonia in isolation and stall the reforms that will benefit the people," the Social Democrats said in a statement.

The new government of Prime MInister Zoran Zaev has promised to break away from the former VMRO DPMNE administration’s practices and restore Macedonia's stalled bids to join NATO and EU by improving relations with its neighbours, primarily Greece and Bulgaria, and by implementing a set of EU-sought reforms that would primarily curb corruption and restore the rule of law.

The former government was widely criticised for authoritarian tendencies, widespread high-level graft, which is now being investigated by the Special Prosecution, and for worsening relations with neighbouring countries.

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