Dissolve the parliament and hold early elections, that’s what legislators have voted in Macedonia, amid a row over the country’s name with Greece.
There is a northern province in Greece called Macedonia, therefore the country wants the former Yugoslav republic to change its name, fearing it might imply a territorial claim.
That is the reason why, using its veto, Greece prevented Macedonia from joining Nato last week. “We remain committed to our goals to join Nato and the European Union” , said Nikola Gruevski (photo), Macedonian prime minister.
Seventy of Macedonia’s 120 deputies voted to dissolve the parliament, and 50 opposition members boycotted the vote. To the opposition Social Democrats, early elections could further harm Macedonia’s bid to join Nato.
Wheareas elections had not been scheduled until 2010, a vote must be held within 60 days, now that the parliament has been dissolved.
Greek veto again
Macedonian prime minister also said opposition parties had been blocking his plan for reform. “But the necessary reforms are halted with a blockade of parliamentary procedures.” And Macedonia’s multi-ethnic government has been in deadlock for months, over reforms and rights for the country’s 25% ethnic Albanian minority.
To some analysts, with these elections, Nikola Gruevski is hoping to secure a stronger mandate for his conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, amid an upsurge of anti-Greek sentiment.
Others fear increased Albanian unrest. Seven years ago, Nato and the EU succeeded in preventing a civil war in Macedonia, between security forces and ethnic Albanias separatists, by brokering a peace deal that granted more minority rights.
Right now Macedonia’s official name is the Republic of Macedonia. Skopje wants to use this name in international relations, but Athens wants the country to transform it into New or Upper Macedonia.
Later this year, Greece could use its veto again, to scupper Skopje’s bip to start EU membership talks.
According to Oana Lungescu, BBC’s European affairs correspondent, there will be fewer incentives for the government to create a multi-ethnic society without the carrot of Nato and European Union membership.