Saturday, July 19, 2008

Macedonia's Gruevski strikes coalition deal with DUI Albanian party

On July 5 2008, Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski's conservative VMRO-DPMNE party sealed a coalition deal with the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), local media reported.

VMRO-DPMNE, which won a landslide victory at the June 1 snap parliamentary elections, securing itself 63 mandates in the 120-seat Macedonian parliament, will form a government together with DUI, which won 18 seats, as compared with the 11 by its rival Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA).

“After reviewing all the possible options, we decided to broaden our parliamentary majority in alliance with the DUI,” VMRO-DPMNE spokesperson Ilija Dimovski said, as quoted by Reuters. “This decision is the best for Macedonia.”

The rivalry between the two ethnic Albanian parties was the reason for severe violence at the elections, which led to re-runs in a number of Albanian-populated areas. A quarter of Macedonia's population is ethnic Albanian.

Before the elections, Gruevski's cabinet included the DPA as a coalition partner.

Reuters reported that the prime minister's initial intention was to have both the DUI and the DPA on board in the next government, but they have rejected such an option.

The new cabinet's main task is widely seen to be finding a solution to the name row with Greece that has been impeding the country's accession to Nato and the European Union. Greece and Macedonia have been at odds for seventeen years, the former arguing that Macedonia is the name of its northern province and cannot be used as an official name by its neighbour.

As a result of the unsettled dispute, in April Greece blocked Nato issuing an invitation for Skopje to join the alliance, just as it is likely to put up obstacles in future talks with the EU.

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