Analysis 23 Jan 17

‘Red Lines’ Complicate Macedonia’s Government Talks

The preconditions set by the ethnic Albanian parties on language rights and other issues will make the work of forming a new coalition government in Macedonia especially complex.

Sefer Tahiri
BIRN
Skopje
 
 Albanian rally in Skopje. Archive photo: BIRN

After eight years of coalition government, the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party and its former junior ethnic Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, have rushed to publicize their standpoints and “red lines” in the media before actually launching formal talks on a new government.

Judging by the conditions they have set each other, the two parties that won most votes in the December 11 elections have ruled out a fresh alliance.

Their policy differences seem irreconcilable on justice issues and language rights for a start.

VMRO DPMNE insists that the Special Prosecution, SJO, - set up to probe high-level crime - should no longer exist. The DUI says the exact opposite. And while the DUI wants Albanian made an official language throughout Macedonia [not just in areas where Albanians are most numerous], VMRO DPMNE calls that unacceptable.

“VMRO DPMNE will not negotiate on, or allow changes to the constitutional order in favour of, bilingualism over the entire territory of Macedonia, nor will it extend the deadline for the SJO [to press charges, which expires in March],” the party said in a press release.

Meanwhile, the DUI demands an extension to the SJO’s deadline, bilingualism throughout Macedonia and Macedonia’s rapid European and Atlantic integration. DUI spokesperson Bujar Osmani said acceptance of these demands is a precondition for joining government talks.

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