North Macedonia confirms it aims at EU and NATO membership

NEWS 16.05.2019 22:03
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Source: Tanjug/AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski

North Macedonian newly elected President Stevo Pendarovski and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev agreed to join forces and “concretely and sincerely” work on an overall county’s progress and the achievement of its strategic goals – the European Union and NATO membership, the Beta news agency reported on Thursday.

During their first official meeting after Pendarovski was elected on May 12, the two agreed on “joint and tuned work on the international scene and on intensifying the reforms in the country… as well as on the improvement of the nations’ living standard.”

The victory of Pendarovski, who was Zaev’s candidate, was a significant relief for the Prime Minister, who negotiated a deal with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras to change the country's name into North Macedonia last June after a 27-year-long dispute with Athens.

The move cleared the way for Skopje’s Euro-Atlantic integrations but was met with harsh resistance from the nationalistic opposition at home.

Former President Djordje Ivanov, a member of the nationalist VMRO -DPMNE party, was a bitter opponent of the agreement and was also at odds with Zaev, the head of Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), on the issue of the use of Albanian as an official language, equal with the Macedonian.

According to statistic data, ethnic Albanians make up some 25 percent of North Macedonia’s just over two million people, and Zaev’s Government has the support of the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and members of the smaller Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), and a faction of the BESA party.