Constitution must be amended for EU path to be approved

Constitution must be amended for EU path to be approved

The turmoil over North Macedonia's accession to the European Union continues. The country must amend its constitution for the Bulgarian veto to be lifted, but this requires a two-thirds majority in parliament. However, the opposition, which is essential to achieving this majority, views the entire process as illegal and remains uncooperative.


Constitutional amendment a prerequisite to EU accession

Macedonia’s prime minister has reaffirmed his belief that Skopje’s parliament will vote in favor of the constitutional amendment. „Without it, the country cannot continue on its EU path,” added Dimitar Kovacevski. In exchange for supporting Macedonia’s accession, Sofia expects clear guarantees from Skopje to protect the rights of Bulgarians living there and enshrine these guarantees in the constitution.

„This is just one of the decisions we need to make before we can join the European Union. However, this decision requires a two-thirds majority. These decisions are what will enable us to continue on our path towards full EU membership. I believe that the constitutional amendment will be a beneficial step on the road to EU membership,”

the prime minister stressed.

Decisions of strategic importance should not be the decisions of only one government, party or individual, Mr Kovacevski underlined. It is a process that affects the whole country, in order to secure a European future for its people and next generations, he added.

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„This is is why I always emphasize that all political actors have their own responsibility to collaborate and make decisions on strategic issues. These crucial decisions should not be part of the daily political debate. If you look at the countries that have recently joined the European Union, you can see that all the political actors have made strategic decisions together,” PM Kovacevski explained.

Despite the disagreements, Macedonia’s premier expressed his hope that they will achieve their goal and settle relations with the Bulgarians. North Macedonia’s head of government recalled that they have set up a working group tasked with the constitutional amendment. The body includes academics as well as other experts. At the same time, Mr Kovacevski expressed his regret that opposition representatives are not participating in the efforts and activities of the working group.

„This is not a wise decision,” he said.

Amending the constitution is but a circus, opposition says

The opposition VMRO DPMNE party alliance, however, maintains in its statement that the people clearly refuse the idea of a constitutional amendment. They say the working group is not credible and, as the most significant scholars have refused to partake in it, they do not want to be a part of this circus.

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The parties of the government coalition do not have the necessary majority to change the constitution, the opposition party asserts.

In an interview with the news portal, the organisation’s vice president underlined that the current parliamentary composition lacks the support to amend the constitution, and therefore it cannot take place. According to the politician, even the initiation of the constitutional amendment is illegal. Aleksandar Nikoloski emphasized that first, they should have established at least a two-thirds majority in parliament to authorise a vote on the necessity of the constitutional amendment. After that, they will set up a constitutional affairs committee within parliament to determine the draft of the text, the opposition leader explained to the Macedonian news site.

A document thus proposed will go back to the representatives, in which case even as few as 61 supporting votes – from the 120-person body – will be enough for acceptance. Upon acceptance, the text will be sent back to the Constitutional Affairs Committee, and then they will conduct the public debate. The final document will be sent back to parliament for approval, but at this stage a two-thirds majority is required, the vice president of VMRO clarified.

„There is no majority and their intentions aren’t fair.”

Placing the process outside the institutionalised system shows two things: one, that there is no constitutional majority, and the other, that the entire process is being manipulated and their intention is not clean, the vice president of the opposition party emphasized.

There is not a single person among VMRO DPMNE’s representatives who would be ready to support a constitutional amendment forced by the dictates of the Bulgarians, Aleksandar Nikoloski added.

North Macedonia submitted its application for EU membership almost 20 years ago, in March 2004, and received EU candidate status in December 2005. The EU held the first intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia in July 2022.



kovacevski, macedonia, nikoloski