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News 19 Jun 14

Parliament Gives Macedonia's New Govt the Nod

Macedonia's parliament formally endorsed the new government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on Thursday.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonian PM, Nikola Gruevski

Macedonia's parliament was expected to endorse the PM's new cabinet since the ruling parties led by Nikola Gruevski's VMRO DPMNE won a solid majority in the assembly at the April general elections.

The vote was 77 in favour and 6 against. No one abstained.

The session passed without almost any opposition MPs present in the chamber.

In his speech to parliament, Gruevski said attracting foreign investment and boosting employment were his priorities for the next four years. Euro-Atlantic integration is also listed as a priority.

The priorities remain“ boosting the economic growth and employment, integration into EU and NATO, uncompromising fight against crime, good inter-ethnic relations, carrying out of the [2001 Ohrid] framework accord and the development of education,” Gruevski said.

The new government plans annual economic growth of 3 to 6 per cent in the next four years and inflation to stay at the current level of 2.5 to 3 per cent per year.

The government also expects some 30 new significant foreign investments that would create 10,000 new jobs in the coming years.

“I am not saying we are doing miracles and we are not promising such things, either. I have not promised that we are flawless, but, we did a lot and the people evaluated us on that. We may have hurt some with our mistakes and for that I am sincerely sorry,” the Prime Minister said.

The new cabinet of Gruevski, who has been in power since 2006, contains no major changes, as he has retained the bulk of ministers that come from his party.

Gordana Jankuloska remains Police Minister while Zoran Stavreski retains his seat as Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

Nikola Poposki remains Foreign Minister; Dime Spasov is again Minister for Labour and Social Policy, while Nikola Todorov remains Health Minister. Mile Janakieski stays in the post of Transport Minister.

Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska remains Culture Minister and Ivo Ivanovski remains Minister for Information Society.

The most notable shuffle between Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE and the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, is the switching of places between the Education Ministry and the Defence Ministry.

The outgoing Environment Minister from the DUI ranks, Abdilaqim Ademi, will now be leading the Education Ministry that was previously run by a VMRO DPMNE politician. 

In return, the DUI leaves the Defence Ministry to the VMRO DPMNE, which plans to appoint seasoned diplomat Zoran Jolevski to the post.

Jolevski, who was the Macedonian representative in the long-running UN-sponsored ‘name’ talks with Greece, is the most notable VMRO DPMNE newcomer in the cabinet.

The three other Vice Prime Ministers also remain the same. Vladimir Pesevski will be in charge of economic affairs; Fatmir Besimi will lead European affairs and Musa Xhaferri will be in charge of implementing the Ohrid Framework Accord.

The new Justice Minister is to be Adnan Jashari from the DUI who will replace the outgoing minister, who was also from the DUI, Blerim Bexheti. Bekim Neziri is the new Economy Minister, from the DUI, replacing the outgoing Valon Saraqini.

Agriculture remains in the hands of the small coalition-allied Socialist Party, where Mihail Cvetkov will replace the outgoing Ljupco Dimovski.

Another novelty in the new cabinet is the lengthening of the list of ministers without portfolio tasked with attracting foreign investments.

Two new ministers without portfolio, Visar Fida and Goran Mickovski, have been added to an already long list that includes current ministers Vele Samak, Bil Pavleski, Nezdet Mustafa and Jerry Naumoff, all of whom retain their posts.

After getting his new cabinet endorsed, Gruevski has a busy schedule for Friday as he is set to meet the opposition leader Zoran Zaev of the Social Democrats, SDSM in a first eye-to-eye attempt to defuse the political crisis that could damage the country's already stalled prospects of Euro-Atlantic integration.

In May, all 33 opposition MPs - bar one - submitted written resignations to the 123-seat parliament after alleging fraud in the April general and presidential elections.

The opposition insisted that the ruling VMRO DPMNE party won both elections by fraud and demanded the formation of a caretaker government to prepare new elections.

"I believe that the opposition MPs will soon return to this [parliament] hall for which they were begging the people so much to give them the oppostunity to sit in it [at the elections]", Gruevski commented.

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