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No Snap Polls, Macedonian PM Says July 18, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia.
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There will not be any snap polls in the country after November’s NATO summit, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski told local media in response to opposition calls for early elections.

The prime minister and head of the ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party said on Monday that “such a thing was not planned”. Gruevski is currently in his second term in office after winning the 2008 snap polls. His party holds about half of the seats in parliament.

At a protest rally on Sunday, the opposition Social Democrats called for the parliament to be dissolved directly following the NATO summit scheduled for November. They said that elections before that date could harm the country’s chances of joining the alliance and making progress in its EU bid if there is a breakthrough in the name talks with Greece.

Speaking about the Athens-Skopje name row, Gruevski kept an optimistic tone, saying that a solution to the long standing spat is “probably possible, if there is will, understanding and respect by the other side for what is considered [Macedonia’s] state and national interest”.

He reiterated that the UN mediator in the dispute, Matthew Nimetz, had intensified his contacts with both sides, but that there were still no clear signal as to whether he would extend a fresh and concrete proposal soon.

Gruevski noted two major issues that have been taking up most of his time: “The global economic crisis and its impact in Macedonia as well as the issues arising with the name dispute which obstruct our plans for NATO and EU integration. These are the two major issues and we will remain committed in the future to seeking solutions.”

Meanwhile Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas in an interview for the Greek daily Ta Nea praised Gruevski’s latest remarks about the possibility of a solution.

“The latest statements by Mr. Gruevski, providing that such statements were sincere, have made us more optimistic. Our policy in the past few months, which aimed at improving the bilateral relations, was clear and persistent. Let’s see if Mr. Gruevski can deliver the final reply,” Droutsas said.

Athens and Skopje are locked in a nearly two decade long row over the use of the name Macedonia. Athens blocked Skopje from entering NATO in 2008 and has stalled its EU accession bid pending a solution to the name spat.

Greece insists that its neighbour’s official name, Republic of Macedonia, implies territorial claims against Greece’s own northern province, which is also called Macedonia.

The Macedonian opposition has accused the current government for not doing enough to solve the spat. They have been urging for a more pragmatic approach and less national sentiment in order to solve the complicated issue.

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