Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Macedonian government collapses

(thanks to AA for this contribution) reports: 12 March 2008 Skopje The Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, the key Albanian partner in the ruling centre-right coalition lead by VMRO-DPMNE, is leaving government, the party leader told media Wednesday.

Menduh Taci explained that the party leadership will confirm its decision by the end of the day.

The move comes after Prime Minister and VMRO-DPMNE head Nikola Gruevski previously rejected a list of demands the DPA chief, had given him on Monday.

“If you ask me, the decision is definite,” Taci told media, after he informed the United States and European Union ambassadors, Gillian Milovanovic and Erwan Fouere respectively, of his party's move.

Taci blamed its coalition partner for “irresponsible behaviour” in times when Macedonia faces the threat of a Greek veto on its bid to join NATO at the alliance's Bucharest Summit in April.

The DPA will not be accomplice in such “irresponsible politics,” Taci said.

The country is under increased diplomatic pressure to reach a quick compromise with neighbouring Greece over the “name” dispute in order to avoid a Greek veto of its membership bid. Read more at

Previously, on Monday, the party gave two days to Gruevski to change his mind and accept their demands.

The DPA wanted guarantees from Gruevski for the quick completion of six key issues, including the immediate closure of cases against former ethnic Albanian guerrillas that fought Macedonian security forces during a short conflict in 2001. Read more at

The party also insisted on state pensions for former ethnic Albanian guerrillas, on making Albanian an official language across the country and on the wider integration of ethnic Albanians into public office.

In addition, DPA demanded further concessions on the use of the Albanian flag in municipalities where they form a large proportion of the population and urged swift recognition of neighbouring Kosovo's independence.

“The government is running normally with full capacity”, government spokesman Ivica Bocevski briefly told media Wednesday after his chief, Gruevski avoided commenting for the media.

The break up of coalition would leave VMRO-DPMNE with insufficient seats in parliament to form government on their own since it controls only 40 of the 120 seats in the assembly.

The DPA has 11 deputies.

The main Albanian opposition party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, may fill the gap in government, local media speculate, but the party has so far expressed reluctance over such a move.

“The process is more important than the technicality,” DUI leader Ali Ahmeti told media as he answered questions on whether his party considers entering the government.

Meanwhile the U.S. Embassy has issued a statement urging political parties in the country to focus on Macedonia’s NATO bid rather on their quarrels.

Macedonia has a “Golden opportunity to enter NATO”, the statement said, noting that “the political stability in the country is essential” for such a bid.

The head of the country’s main opposition Social Democrats, Radmila Sekerinska, said the government partners are acting “utterly irresponsibly” just twenty days ahead of a “key” NATO summit.

The current government was formed in 2006.