European Western Balkans

Osmani: It is the time to launch a public debate over the proposed constitutional amendments

Photo: OSCE/Micky Kroell

SKOPJE – Minister of Foreign Affairs Bujar Osmani called for public debates, proposals and suggestions over the constitutional amendments on Thursday, noting that the process is now at a stage when ideas and proposals can be submitted, Mia.mk reported.

“It is very important to me that this is how people see this process. As an opportunity for them to join as well, with their own positions. However, of course, this should be within the frameworks of what has been agreed in the negotiating framework and the protocol signed with Bulgaria, and it should be considered whether these proposals would strengthen the consensus or weaken it. If they weaken it, then they probably won’t aid the process,” said Osmani.

According to him, now is the time to launch a public debate over the proposed constitutional amendments.

“We are still politicizing, sticking to partisan positions and calculating for elections, instead of coming out and saying ‘I am against that sentence, against that word, against that comma, I believe we should add this’… This is what the citizens expect. This would be a meaningful contribution even if you oppose the amendments. However, when you don’t join this debate, probably because you lack arguments over why you are against, and you politicize the whole process, you’re not being fair to the citizens,” said Osmani.

Asked if there is a chance to hold another meeting with the opposition over the constitutional amendments, Osmani said the refusal of the opposition to accept the amendments is not fair to the citizens, and is an attempt by the opposition to win political points, which, according to the Foreign Minister, is an unserious approach to a very serious question.

“And this is why we must look for alternative ways. We will work until the last day to reach a consensus with the opposition. However, we will not miss a single day to work with the MPs as well, because obviously, if you talk to them, you will see that the majority of them are aware of the burden that is being imposed upon them, to be the obstacle to the country’s European future, and to be the ones who will push the people to move abroad and isolate the country,” stressed Osmani.

Sofia vetoed Skopje’s accession over historical, language, and cultural disputes and demanded changes to the constitution to include the Bulgarian minority as an ethnic group. For over a year, the situation has remained at an impasse as the Macedonian government does not have the majority needed to pass such changes.

The proposed amendments, prepared by a group of experts from the Justice Ministry, are currently in the hands of the government, which will greenlight it and send it for parliamentary approval.

The changes will include the Bulgarian minority, along with Jews, Slovenes, Croats and Egyptians. But the amendments are not popular with the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE led by Hristijan Mickoski. Ethnic Albanian parties are divided by the BESA Movement calling for the inclusion or a revision of the Albanian language in the constitution. Meanwhile, the Democratic Union for Integration leader Ali Ahmeti said the act would close a “historic chapter of disagreements.” Without Albanian party approval and that of VMRO-DPMNE, the amendments will not pass as it requires a two-thirds majority, which is currently not attainable.

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