Albanians ask; Macedonian PM accepts; protest in Skopje
Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev has reached an agreement with the leader of the Albanian opposition in that country, Zijadin Sela, to support constitutional changes.Source: Tanjug
Macedonians on Wednesday reacted to this by taking it to the streets.
Zaev has accepted to remove from the preamble of the Macedonian Constitution the sentence, "citizens living within the borders" - and replace it with mentioning "all ethnic communities."
Zaev also announced that amendment 36 has been accepted, which stipulates that the state cares equally about all citizens, "including those who live in the diaspora."
Sela, who is the leader of the opposition Alliance for Albanians, confirmed the deal with Zaev, adding that the Alliance is very proud of its the contribution to it. "We have succeeded in specifying the preamble in order to avoid the existence of two categories of citizens," Sela said.
Zaev said that he "rejected the motion of the Besa Movement that would make Albanian the second official language in Macedonia."
The Macedonian government has also accepted an amendment of the Alliance for Albanians, referring to Kosovo in the Macedonian Constitution as "a neighboring state" - as well as another amendment, that defines that Macedonian citizenship, i.e., the term "citizen of North Macedonia," does not determine the ethnicity of a citizen.
Constitutional changes will be adopted if 80 out of 120 members of the Macedonian Assembly vote in favor after a debate that was to start on Wednesday afternoon - but was postponed for Thursday after Zaev addressed the parliament.
The "Macedonia - Blocks" group of citizens organized a demonstration in front of the Assembly on Wednesday, in the presence of strong police forces. The demonstrators were shouting, "traitors," "mercenaries," chanting "Macedonia, Macedonia," and urging MPs and Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov to join them and stand against changing the name of the state.
They wanted to enter the Assembly and were calling on the president to declare a state of war.
Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of the most influential opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, addressed the protesters to say that MPs from his party will not participate in the parliamentary session that would abolish Macedonian identity.
Mickoski recalled that a referendum on constitutional changes and the Prespa Agreement (reached with Greece, to change Macedonia's constitutional name) had been unsuccessful, and that the ruling coalition led by Zoran Zev did not receive support from citizens to change the constitution.
He also accused Zaev of garnering a two-thirds majority to support the passing of these amendments in the Assembly through "court proceedings, selective justice, blackmail, pressure, and threats."