North Macedonia parliament speaker rejects referendum on termination of deal with Bulgaria –

North Macedonia Assembly spokesman Talat Xhaferi rejected a call by opposition party VMRO-DPMNE to hold a referendum on withdrawing the agreement with Bulgaria, which proposes that North Macedonia amend its constitution to recognize a Bulgarian minority.

In a communiqué, Xhaferi said the referendum initiative was “not in line with the constitution”.

According to Xhaferi, ratified international agreements are part of the internal legal order and cannot be changed by law.

On September 9, VMRO DPMNE submitted the referendum initiative, calling the deal with Bulgaria anti-national and anti-state and endangering Macedonian identity and language.

According to the constitution of North Macedonia, the parliament can authorize the referendum to be held if 150,000 signatures are collected.

“I hope that there will still be MEPs with national awareness who support the initiative, because at the end of the day if this initiative is not in order, it goes into a plenary session where MEPs have to declare regularity or irregularity,” he said Nikolla Micevski, Deputy of VMRO DPMNE.

The governing SDSM party supports the idea of ​​a referendum as it is a good democratic instrument. However, MEPs argue that now is not the time to rock the boat between North Macedonia and Bulgaria.

“Organizing the referendum is a democratic right and we as a pluralistic democracy and as a democratic state always stand on the same side and respect the opportunities and rights that all citizens have, including political parties. But I think that in times of crisis, in times of difficult economic and energy situation in Europe, the world and our country, these are exaggerated initiatives and retrograde processes that take the country back to dark, isolating times.” stressed Martin Kostovski, SDSM deputy.

Before the formal start of bloc accession talks, North Macedonia must amend the constitution to include the Bulgarian minority in its preamble. But the Macedonian constitution can only be changed with a two-thirds vote, which the parliamentary majority does not have.

(Alice Taylor |

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