After a week of negotiations, the VMRO-DPMNE announced a new coalition with Ali Ahmeti's ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration. The highest bodies within the VMRO-DPMNE approved the pact.
By Goran Trajkov for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 08/07/08
A new coalition is preparing to assume the reins in parliament. [File]
VMRO-DPMNE Communication Centre Director Ilija Dimovski announced at the weekend that the For a Better Macedonia coalition, led by VMRO-DPMNE, will form a government with the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and with the Party for a European Future (PEI). According to Dimovski, the two rival ethnic Albanian parties, the DUI and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), refused to participate.
The new coalition will have 82 parliamentary seats, giving it better than a two-thirds majority and the ability to pass crucial laws.
Observers see the government's main tasks as reviving its NATO membership bid and fixing a date for EU accession talks.
The DUI agreed to postpone the integration of the city of Kichevo with its local villages for four years, an act originally scheduled for March 2009. "All the agreements were not possible with the [DPA] because of its smaller number of representatives in parliament -- 11 -- in comparison with the DUI, which has 18," Dimovski said.
"The prime minister has a legitimate right to make a coalition with the party he chooses. ... We do not feel defeated. We are going to operate as the constructive opposition," DPA Secretary-General Imer Aliu said.
VMRO-DPMNE and the DUI agreed to continue talks on a language law. The DUI accepted the program of VMRO-DPMNE, "Rebirth in 100 Steps", including its position on the name dispute with Greece. They also agreed on expedited demarcation of the border with Kosovo in accordance with UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan.
According to the pact, the DUI will have five ministers, one deputy prime minister and three deputy ministers. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that he will name his ministers by the end of the week.
Political experts say that a successful coalition will affect the next presidential elections. "If the new coalition functions well, in reality the opposition's presidential candidate will not have much of a chance," analyst Dane Talevski said.