A controversial draft law that provides social security for Macedonia's defenders and their families was forced to be withdrawn after a filibuster.
By Klaudija Lutovska for Southeast European Time in Skopje -- 30/10/12
A draft law would regulate benefits for those who defended the sovereignty of Macedonia during the 2001 conflict. [Reuters]
Two weeks after a controversial law on the rights of Macedonia's defenders in the 2001 conflict was withdrawn following a rare filibuster in parliament, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity party will again try to have the draft law passed.
VMRO-DPMNE MP Vele Georgievski said the proposal will be submitted in a summary procedure and be signed by all 46 members of the party.
MP Talat Xhaferi of the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration party blocked the work of the commission for five weeks in a filibuster by reading poetry, fiction and having others read for him. Xhaferi, who says the draft law is discriminatory, said that a filibuster is his democratic right and that it did not harm the work of the assembly.
After several sessions with one to two hours of silence, Xhaferi spoke referring to a European Commission report that said that Macedonia should resolve the status of "victims of the conflict in 2001."
"The report says that should compensate all damaged during the conflict in 2001, without emphasising one or the other side. The draft law on the defenders is discriminatory because all are not treated in the same way … that's why we use all the institutional capabilities to prevent its passage. We [DUI] are keen to resolve the issue, but for all those who suffered in 2001, as is suggested in the latest report of the European Commission," Xhaferi said.
Filibusters are unprecedented in regional politics. In Montenegro in May 2012, and in Serbia in 2010, the rules of procedure were changed to provide time limitations on MP presentations, but neither country has a limit on the number of amendments that can be proposed to laws.
A law for defenders was put into place in January 2002. The new draft law envisions compensation for disabled war veterans and the families of deceased soldiers, free primary health care for defenders and the families of deceased soldiers and free medical treatment for those who were wounded.
At issue is the DUI's insistence that the legislation provide compensation and special rights for other victims of the conflict in 2001, specifically the combatants of the National Liberation Army (NLA).
DUI offered two solutions regarding the draft law -- either to supplement the proposal with provisions to regulate rights of the NLA, or withdraw the draft.
However, analysts said, there is no legal solution to block the draft law.
"The amendments no have restrictions. Each member may submit as many amendments as deemed is necessary," Tanja Karakamiseva-Jovanovski, professor of constitutional law and the political system at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University.
Political analyst Albert Musliu warned that "the extension of parliament's political drama of the two coalition partners around the defenders law will raise tensions among citizens."
According to analyst Jove Kekenovski, the draft law will not pass, and it is certain that in Macedonia there will be early elections.
"The adoption of this law will break the coalition [between the] VMRO-DPMNE and DUI. This is attempted to get more time with a number of amendments, in expectation the suitable term to dissolve Parliament and new early elections," Kekenovski told SETimes.
According to the political scheme, the draft law on the defenders will now go to a plenary session, expected this week, where assembly members will vote on the need for the law's adoption.
To return again in the legislature parent body, where in the second reading will be followed by direct amendment debate, passage requires a majority from the members, which means that the measure could pass with just VMRO-DPMNE votes.
"We were patient enough. Committee on Labour and Social Policy is blocked. We believe that common sense will eventually prevail and the law will be passed," Georgievski told SETimes.
SDSM announced that they will vote for the adoption of the draft law in the summary procedure.
"We definitely support passing the law, but it's obvious that the theater arranged by government parties continues," Cvetanka Ivanova, president of the Parliamentary Committee for Labour and Social Policy and SDSM member, said.