EU Rejection Causes Early Elections in Recently Renamed North Macedonia
Zoran Zaev’s overwhelming priority since taking over in 2017 has been to secure the start of North Macedonia’s EU membership negotiations.
North Macedonia, the former Yugoslav republic which even changed its name in order to pave its way towards EU membership, is going to hold early election after the European Union declined to start accession talks with it and its neighbor Albania.
Both North Macedonia and its neighbor Albania were disappointed on Friday, after the EU leaders failed to achieve a consensus on inviting the two Balkan states to begin formal negotiations for future membership.
North Macedonia, formerly the Republic of Macedonia or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, even changed its name last year in order to resolve its name dispute with Greece of more than two decades in the so called Prespa Agreement, thus removed one of the major obstacles to its application for EU membership.
The start of the accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania was in effected vetoed by France, and supported by Denmark and the Netherlands.
France’s position as spelled out by President Emmanuel Macron was that the process of accession to the European Union must be reformed first before more member states can be accepted.
The failure to invite Albania and North Macedonia to start talks for joining the EU was described as a “mistake” by European Council President Donald Tusk.
North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zaev, who championed the name dispute agreement with Greece, in order to give his country a clear perspective for joining the European Union, had made his entire government term conditional on receiving an invitation for accession negotiations.
He acted accordingly on Saturday by announcing in a televised address his de facto resignation and calling for holding early elections to determine the political course of North Macedonia in the wake of the EU rejection.
“This is what I’m proposing: organizing quick snap elections where you, citizens, will make a decision for the road we are going to take,” Zaev said in the address.
“We are victims of the EU’s historic mistake,” the North Macedonian leader added, echoing the comment of EU Council President Tusk.
Zaev thus held consultations on Sunday with the country’s president and the leaders of the major political parties in the country, and an early election date was set for April 12, 2020.
“We are remaining on the road bringing democracy, European values, rule of law, and human rights and freedoms,” he declared on Twitter upon announcing the new election date in the wake of the EU’s refusal to grant his country the start of formal accession talks.
(Banner image: Zoran Zaev on Twitter)