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Ahead of the anticipated decision by President Gjorge Ivanov to appoint a Prime Minister designate, VMRO-DPMNE President Nikola Gruevski said that his party will attempt to form the next Government, but will not be prepared to do so at any cost. Interviewed by daily Dnevnik, Gruevski says that, if VMRO-DPMNE is stood up in the talks by the other parties, they will soon return to power in a big way. VMRO-DPMNE won the elections with 51 seats in Parliament, against 49 for the social-democratic SDSM party which also got some support among ethnic Albanians, while DUI won among the mainly Albanian parties with 10 seats.
“I will try to form the next Government, but not at any price. If we follow already established principles, I should be able to form the Government. If these principles are violated, then anything is possible”, Gruevski told Dnevnik. According to Gruevski, the political principle to form a coalition between the two parties that have won among the largest ethnic groups was established by DUI itself, when it insisted it is made part of the VMRO-DPMNE led Government in 2008, even though at the time many in VMRO-DPMNE wanted to maintain their traditional cooperation with the DPA party, and were wary of DUI’s role in the 2001 armed conflict.
“Our membership had different ideas in 2008, and, to some extent, in 2011 and 2014, but still we decided to form a coalition with DUI because that was the clear expression of the will of the majority of the ethnic Albanian voters. If DUI now decides to form a coalition with the second placed party in the elctions, with the party that lost and not the party that won the elections, this would create a new political tradition, a new practice in Macedonia, and we will naturally adapt to it, now and in the future. If VMRO-DPMNE is stood up by DUI, regardless of the reasons, rest assured that VMRO-DPMNE will return to politics big time, and for at least two additional terms in office. And then, we will not be bound by any obligations about forming the next Government”, Gruevski said, speaking about the possibility that SDSM cobbles together a coalition with the ethnic Albanian parties, based on their proposed platform and SDSM’s own promises to reform the country beyond the inter-ethnic agreement laid in the Ohrid Agreement that ended the 2001 conflict.
DUI led two other Albanian parties, BESA and the Alliance of Albanians, into forming a joint platform with a number of requests to amend the Constitution, give Albanian politicians veto powers over the funding of municipalities, make the Albanian language into an official language throughout Macedonia, change the flag, coat of arms and anthem, concessions in the name issue talks with Greece and in talks with Bulgaria, and other issues. While SDSM have yet to respond officially to the platform, Gruevski said that demands will not help ordinary ethnic Albanian citizens, whose needs would not be helped by having expanded language rights in municipalities where there are no Albanian citizens, but would be better served by having 100 or 150 new factories open up in the next four years, by adding thousands of jobs, and appropriately increasing the salaries, retirement incomes and welfare payments for all citizens.
Given that the Constitution can only be amended with a two thirds majority, Gruevski adds that there will be no support from VMRO-DPMNE to introduce bilingualism across Macedonia or to establish cantons, and will act to prevent a push in this direction by other parties, including SDSM. Additionally, speaking about the distribution of funding across the country, Gruevski says that VMRO-DPMNE would like to see how much different areas contribute to the budget in the first place. “That would be a long process, and if we initiate it, hopefully there will be no regrets among those who initiated it after we see the results”, Gruevski told Dnevnik.
In his interview, Gruevski adds that extending the mandate for the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) to open investigations would merely prolong the political crisis in Macedonia given the partisan way in which this institution has acted, opening cases only against VMRO-DPMNE officials and ignoring all other allegations of wrong-doing. Gruevski says extending the work of the SPO beyond the originally agreed 18 months requires not only a two/thirds majority in Parliament but also the approval of the four largest parties. “I will remain politically correct and I will not say what many high ranked DUI officials have told us on the issue of the SPO. But, DUI are strongly pressured on the issue, just as they and DPa were under pressure when this institution was being formed in the summer of 2015. That was before the elections. Now the people have voted and there is a clear winner and a clear loser, including on the issue of the SPO”, Gruevski adds.
As in his earlier Republika interview, in his comments for Dnevnik Gruevski says that the vast Open Society network in Macedonia, funded by left wing billionaire George Soros, is deeply involved in creating the political crisis in the country. Following the elections, Gruevski has called for de-Sorosoization of the country, or an end to political abuse of the civil society or NGO sector. “Besides the continued activities organized by his institute, through the media and the NGO organizations he funds in Macedonia, through the so-called colorful revolution, our understanding is that Soros was deeply and personally involved in the crisis in Macedonia and in the wiretapped materials that caused it. For this purpose, he had meetings and conversations with two Prime Ministers, one leading a country that is member of the European Union and one that is not. We are not the first country in which such an operation was initiated. He is a powerful person with an enormous political influence and he aims to turn politicians into instruments for meeting his goals. Naturally, the friendly countries he gets involved in such operations get to accomplish their own goals in the process”, said Gruevski. Asked to elaborate further on the foreign influence in the start of the crisis in Macedonia, he responded that, as a top political leader, his undiplomatic comments could cause consequences for the country as a whole.