Friday, December 18, 2009

Report: Macedonian Coalition On Thin Ice

Skopje | 17 December 2009 | Sinisa-Jakov Marusic
Gruevski and Ali Ahmeti
Gruevski and Ali Ahmeti

Macedonia's ruling coalition between VMRO-DPMNE and its junior partner the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, is on thin ice following the country's failure to get a start date for EU accession talks, local media report. The reports say that DUI is growing increasingly restless over the main VMRO DPMNE's apparent unwillingness to solve the name row with Greece which is hindering country’s EU and NATO membership ambitions.

“Although both parties try to calm tensions, insiders say that the coalition is seriously shattered and that it may crumble after the DUI congress set for Saturday,” the Vreme daily reported on Thursday.

Speculations of a possible break-up of the coalition grew stronger after the DUI leader Ali Ahmeti said that the party would seek to “redefine” the relations with VMRO DPMNE after the congress.

DUI promised its voter that the country would become a NATO member and would obtain the date for start of its accession talks with the EU by the end of this year. DUI previously gave “card blanche” to VMRO DPMNE to solve the name spat but added that its patience will not be endless.

Recently both parties exchanged barbs in public, seen by observers as a sure sign that the coalition in not doing well. Both parties said that these are only personal observations.

“I would rather not comment their discussions,” Prime Minister and VMRO DPMNE head Nikola Gruevski told media on Wednesday.

DUI’s high representatives Teuta Arifi and Ermira Mehmeti first blamed VMRO DPMNE for continuing its nationalistic agenda favoring the Macedonian majority which further deters Skopje from reaching compromise with Athens.

VMRO DPMNE legislator, Kosana Mazneva Nikolic replied by stating that DUI sees an agreement with Greece as a ''Kalashnikov'' and ''ammunition'' “to bring down everything that is national and progressive, everything that is Macedonian”.

Various opining polls have shown that the county’s Albanians, that make up approximately one quarter of the population, would much rather see their country in EU and NATO even if that means changing the country’s name under Greek pressure. Macedonians see the name as part of their identity and are far less willing to trade it.

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