EARLY ELECTIONS BY EITHER GRUEVSKI’S OR AHMETI AND ZAEV’S MODEL?
MIC – August 22, 2013 – 12:54pm

Unless the inquiry committee into the 24 December incident produces conclusions by Friday, a “new strategy” would be applied, according to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s earlier statement, which many interpret as heralding early parliamentary elections. However, based on the party officials’ statements over the past two months, it is evident that all wish to shun elections. VMRO-DPMNE stress that they would call them only if they have to. BDI insist that time should not be wasted in this way, as SDSM is in favor of elections provided the election legislation is aligned with the recommendations of the OSCE of 2011. Nevertheless, the possibility of holding early elections is constantly in the air, Nova Makedonija comments.

When it comes to calling early parliamentary elections, there are two scenarios, the paper says. In the first and more likely one, it would be governing VMRO-DPMNE to call them. According to the second one, political parties in Parliament may regroup to form a new majority whose only purpose would be to conduct the poll. It is speculated that the second scenario would be prompted by BDI and SDSM so they would make sure the results are objective, bearing in mind SDSM’s incessant accusations that VMRO-DPMNE is pressurizing and manipulating voters, and also in order for them to try and win enough parliamentary seats to form their own governing coalition regardless of the number of votes VMRO-DPMNE polls.

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PARTY LEADERS GET INVOLVED IN INQUIRY COMMITTEE’S WORK TO HELP REACH COMPROMISE ON TIME
MIC – August 21, 2013 – 1:03pm

After a month-long impasse, the committee of inquiry into the parliamentary incident of 24 December resumed operations Tuesday. Ilija Dimovski and Blagorodna Dulik from VMRO-DPMNE, Renata Deskovska and Ljubomir Frckoski from SDSM, together with Nikola Gruevski and Zoran Zaev, leaders of VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM respectively, as well as Radmila Sekerinska, vice president of SDSM, and Martin Protogjer, Gruevski’s Chief of Staff, met at the Club of MPs and discussed the possible ways of resolving the political gridlock threatening to complicate further Macedonia’s European integration. The meeting that lasted for four hours was also attended by chairman Borce Davitkovski, who has recently resigned, and by the two foreign observers.

Although the meeting began in a laidback atmosphere, tension rose over time resulting in frequent breaks during which Gruevski and Zaev consulted their associates, Dnevnik reports.

Both Gruevski and Zaev entered the meeting as optimists that a compromise would be reached on time.

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AHMETI AND GRUEVSKI COORDINATED ABOUT NAME ISSUE
MIC – August 20, 2013 – 12:58pm

Ernst Reichel, Germany’s special envoy for Southeast Europe, most probably had in mind the position of the Government, when he said during his visit to Macedonia last week that mediator Matthew Nimetz’s name proposal was acceptable to Macedonia and that it all now depended on Greece, Nova Makedonija reports.

This can be concluded from the statement of a BDI source for Nova Makedonija that apart from meeting Musa Xhaferi, Deputy Prime Minister for the Implementation of the Framework Agreement, and Ali Ahmeti and Zoran Zaev, leaders of BDI and SDSM, the German diplomat also met government officials from VMRO-DPMNE.

Last week, Reichel was in Skopje and in a statement for Alsat TV he said the authorities reassured him that they were very much interested in seeking out a solution to the name issue, that the options at the table were acceptable to them and that now it all depended on Greece’s readiness for a compromise.

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EARLY ELECTIONS, GRUEVSKI’S NEW STRATEGY FOR RESOLVING INQUIRY COMMITTEE STALEMATE
MIC – August 19, 2013 – 12:21pm

Unless a solution is found soon so the committee of inquiry responsible to shed light on the parliamentary incident of 24 December can resume operations and adopt a report on time, VMRO-DPMNE is going to employ a new strategy, said Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on Saturday. He is convinced that it is SDSM that blocks the adoption of the committee’s conclusion on which Macedonia’s European integration depends and has once again pointed his finger at Branko Crvenkovski, the recently deposed opposition leader, Utrinski vesnik reports.

The leader of VMRO-DPMNE did not specify what the new strategy would consist of yet it is speculated increasingly more that early parliamentary elections would soon be held. The committee’s block, the hopeless European prospects, the rickety relations in the ruling coalition and the weakness of SDSM still unprepared for an election battle are the arguments of those that favor holding early elections by spring at the latest at the same time with the presidential poll.

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Flash News
MIC – August 19, 2013 – 8:34am

- President Gjorge Ivanov congratulated 18 August, Macedonian Army Day, and added that time would come when Macedonia would finally become a NATO member state considering the Macedonian Army constantly proved its professionalism and dedication. At the moment, over 3,200 Macedonian soldiers are engaged in international peacekeeping missions making significant contribution to securing peace and stability around the world.

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SKOPJE AND SOFIA USE MACEDONIAN SOLDIERS’ DESPAIR TO EXCHANGE HARSH WORDS
MIC – August 16, 2013 – 1:48pm

A few days after Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin said in his interview with the Bulgarian television 24 Casa that it was good that the poor dialogue between the two countries was being stimulated with rational talks rather than with harsh monologues in media, the public in both countries became upset again, this time round over the topic of taking Macedonian soldiers in the Bulgarian army, Nova Makedonija comments.

Nikolay Tsonev, former Bulgarian minister of defense and now leader of the New Alternative political party, denounced Thursday the Bulgarian authorities, which, according to him, are going to let Macedonian soldiers become part of the Bulgarian army only based on their Bulgarian citizenship.

“The reaction and response to the Macedonian soldiers are absurd. To put it mildly, it is incomprehensible to give foreign citizens the responsibility of protecting the fundamental Bulgarian patriotic values,” Tsonev says.

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GREECE BEING AN ISLAND OF STABILITY IS NON-SENSE, SAYS EDWARD JOSEPH
MIC – August 15, 2013 – 1:24pm

What can Macedonia expect of Greece and the USA following Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ visit to Washington? After meeting Samaras, US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden did not mention the name issue directly. Indirectly, however, they appealed for resolution of the Balkan issues although the favored Greek scenario was avoiding difficult national issues altogether, Cvetan Cilimanov, MIA’s Washington-based correspondent, says.

Edward Joseph, former analyst of the International Crisis Group and now Balkan expert at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, says the reason for this should primarily be sought in the extremely dire situation in Greece.

“Samaras’ statements that Greece is an island of stability are nonsense. It is true they carried out reforms yet their internal situation being very serious is still the most important. Debts are not just numbers on a piece of paper. It is hard for me to say this, yet the other issues, such as the name issue, fade away in comparison with the Greek problems. Imagine Greece falling apart. They have a fascist part, the Golden Dawn, a minister of administration, Mitsotakis, who is trying to change completely their administration laying off so many people, and they are still very much indebted. Unless new aid arrives after elections in Germany, Greece faces another financial crisis that threatens the economy of the whole world,” Joseph says and adds that under such circumstances it is good that Obama only alluded to the name issue.

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Flash News
MIC – August 14, 2013 – 8:31am

- Abongo Malik Obama, US President Barack Obama’s brother, is arriving in Skopje Wednesday to receive the Balkan Charter of Peace awarded by the Balkan Club of Peace. According to the portal Press 24, the Balkan Club of Peace is an international organization as the first Charter was awarded to the City of Skopje, Mother Teresa’s home town.

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MACEDONIAN ANALYSTS EXPECT WASHINGTON TO PUT NO PRESSURE ON GREECE
MIC – August 12, 2013 – 1:33pm

A change to the Greek policy toward Macedonia and the name issue following Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ meetings with the US leadership in Washington and UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon in New York is not very likely, Macedonian analysts say. What can be expected, they add, is intensified activities regarding the name issue talks with mediator Matthew NImetz this fall. According to unconfirmed information, Nimetz is to hold a new round to talks with the representatives of Macedonia and Greece, ambassadors Zoran Jolevski and Adamantios Vassilakis, in September, Dnevnik reports.

However, analysts do not expect any pressure from the USA to be put in the meantime, at least not on Athens.

According to Greek media, Samaras stated at the end of his visit to Washington and New York he was “very happy” with the results of his meetings.

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MACEDONIAN-BULGARIAN TALKS – RAILWAY TRACK MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONUMENTS
MIC – July 31, 2013 – 1:59pm

Macedonia is dedicated to enhancing the relations with Bulgaria but wants solutions not to be imposed in the agreement on neighborliness but the two sides to be equal. At the same time, Sofia should not condition its support for Macedonia’s Euro-integration and let alone open questions about the country’s constitution, Macedonian and Bulgarian experts comment, daily Dnevnik writes.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin stated that the basic differences between the two countries are the ones about the shared history.

“The approach in the negotiations about the agreement is not to impose solutions on force but to aim at a text that the two countries, government and most of all citizens will be comfortable with,” said Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki, adding that it is most important for the citizens from both countries to be connected in an economic and infrastructural way and encourage the most positive climate in the bilateral relations.  

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Flash News
MIC – July 29, 2013 – 8:01am

- Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on Sunday in Kyustendil, Bulgaria met with Bulgarian counterpart Plamen Oresharski at an informal government session between the two countries. The two prime ministers discussed about the development of the good-neighborly relations and boosting the economic cooperation. Bulgarian PM Oresharski stressed that Sofia insists on an agreement on neighborliness and friendship to be signed whereas according to PM Gruevski, the two countries should boost the economic cooperation. During the meeting, ten members of Bulgaria’s VMRO protested near the Municipality of Kyustendil.

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Flash News
MIC – July 26, 2013 – 8:13am

- French President Francois Hollande promised that his country will use the good relations with Greece in order to help solve the name row. According to Hollande, it is a fact that there is a standstill in the name negotiations and it is a fact it cannot be left unsolved. At the first tete-a-tete meeting in Brdo near Kranj with Macedonian President Gjorgje Ivanov, Hollande stressed that the problem is rather complicated and long-standing.

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Flash News
MIC – July 25, 2013 – 10:17am

- President Gjorge Ivanov on Tuesday at Brdo near Kranj in Slovenia is to take part in the Brdo Process Summit. French President Francois Hollande as well as EU representatives are to take part in the meeting and debate about the main problems in the EU and possibilities of the region’s EU integration.

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POPOSKI: ASHTON, FULE AND LINKEVICIUS URGE US TO FINISH DOMESTIC AGENDA IN ORDER FOR THE EU TO HELP US WITH THE EUROPEAN ONE
MIC – July 24, 2013 – 2:34pm

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki on Tuesday in Brussels realized meetings with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and the Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius.  In a statement for news agency MIA, Minister Poposki said that the talks with the EU high representatives were focused on the prospects and future dynamic of the EU enlargement process.  

According to Macedonian Foreign Minister Poposki, his interlocutors mentioned that their goal is to reach a consensus in the EU Stabilization and Association Council for start of Macedonia’s membership negotiations. For this reason, according to Poposki, additional efforts will be made for intensifying the dialogue between Macedonia and our southern neighbor towards eliminating the one and only existing problem in the bilateral relations.

“High Representative Ashton and Commissioner Fule are on the same wavelength. The talks with Ashton addressed our initiatives related to this matter and the one presented in the letter of PM Nikola Gruevski. We hope for some progress to be made in intesyfying this dialogue, as the simple delaying of the decision on opening the negotiations and the lack of commitment to settling the bilateral dispute are not in favor of the Euro-Atlantic agenda in the Balkans,” Poposki stressed.  

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Flash News
MIC – July 23, 2013 – 8:14am

- Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki met Monday in Brussels with his Greek colleague Evangelos Venizelos where they discussed the perspectives of the EU integration. Poposki underlined that PM Gruevski’s proposal might accelerate the name negotiation process but the Greek Minister is quiet.

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Flash News
MIC – July 22, 2013 – 8:26am

- A Macedonian delegation led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is to leave for Moscow on Monday and to sign the South Stream agreement the next day.

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IVANOV AND PAPOULIAS MEET IN ZAGREB
MIC – July 2, 2013 – 1:01pm

On the sidelines of the celebration of Croatia’s accession to the EU in Zagreb on Monday, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov met his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias, which was the first meeting ever of Macedonian and Greek heads of state. The meeting took place at President Ivanov’s initiative, Utrinski vesnik reports.

“We talked openly about our two societies, our citizens and the way in which we as presidents can contribute to closer cooperation considering we need to follow the good relations and the good trends happening between the citizens of our two countries,” President Ivanov said after meeting his Greek counterpart.

Papoulias, as President Ivanov said afterward, promised him another meeting.

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Flash News
MIC – July 2, 2013 – 8:30am

- Macedonian Government delegation headed by PM Nikola Gruevski, as of Monday, is paying a visit to People’s Republic of China and according to information, Gruevski is set to meet with President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The delegation is to take part in the conference for cooperation between China and the countries from Central and Eastern Europe which will be held in Chinese city Chung-King.

Chinese Central Television CCTV interviewed PM Nikola Gruevski which focused on the political and economic relations between the two countries, the increase of trade exchange and the investments. Gruevski stressed that the Chinese investments are welcome in Macedonia and invited Chinese companies to check Macedonia’s business climate.

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NAME ISSUE PRESSURE IS ON US BECAUSE WE ARE NOT UNITED
MIC – June 28, 2013 – 2:32pm

Exclusive interview with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in Dnevnik

Prime Minister Gruevski speaks in the first part of his interview with Dnevnik about the name issue with Greece, the attitude of the international community to both countries, the possibility for BDI to walk out of the Government, the demographic catastrophe in Macedonia, the economic situation and investments.
“The pressure on us in the name issue with Greece now is in another form and manifests itself via various negative reports on Macedonia, which is at the same time an attempt to seek out an alibi why Macedonia is not entering the EU and NATO. More specifically, it is an alibi for the incapacity and lack of will and interest of the great powers to undo the injustice that Greece does. They need someone to blame for it,” Prime Minister Gruevski explains the heightened incidence of foreign reports in which the Republic of Macedonia is presented negatively.

Q: Mr. Gruevski, it is crystal clear that Macedonia will not be set a date for opening negotiations. You have recently been to Vienna and met Philip Reeker in Skopje earlier. Also, you have the information of the meetings of our ambassadors, the minister of foreign affairs and the president. Recently, in your address at the birthday of your party you appealed for assuming a joint position and determining a new state strategy, to which SDSM replied with a question of why you failed to integrate the country into the EU and NATO. Do you have an answer to that?

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FULE URGES EU NOT TO FORGET ABOUT MACEDONIA
MIC – June 26, 2013 – 1:48pm

The European Union should not forget about Macedonia although this time round at the ministerial meeting the country will not be given either a conclusion or a date for negotiations regardless of the fact that the proposals is on the agenda. This appeal was voiced Tuesday by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule at the meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC) in Luxembourg. He said in his elaboration that although the subject was setting Serbia a date for launching membership negotiations, Macedonia should not be forgotten in the future. A similar message also came from Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin, who informed his counterparts that during his visit to Macedonia he saw a positive atmosphere as far as good neighborly relations and carrying out European membership reforms were concerned.

“I believe that relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia are warming up and I expect this to bring about positive change in the future and so we should not forget about this country in the future,” Bulgarian Minister Vigenin said.

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RICHARD HOWITT: Disappointed but Determined Rapporteur calls for Skopje Surge
MIC – June 25, 2013 – 4:03pm

News that EU Foreign Ministers meeting today (Tuesday 25 June) in Luxembourg for the General Affairs Council will not adopt formal conclusions on the progress of the  Republic of Macedonia [MIC ed] towards opening EU membership negotiations, has been met with disappointment but determination from the MEP who leads for the country's accession in the European Parliament.
 
Rapporteur Richard Howitt MEP, whose resolution recommending an immediate start to EU membership negotiations was adopted overwhelmingly in the European Parliament in May said:
 
"I will not defend an EU decision which I do not agree with. It remains my absolute view and the view of the European Parliament that membership negotiations should begin.
                                                            

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Flash News
MIC – June 25, 2013 – 8:40am

- Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said in his interview with the Bosnian newspaper Dnevni Avaz that he expected Macedonia and Serbia to be on the agenda of the meeting of the European Council and be set a date for opening accession talks. However, in his view, not all countries share his view considering “some of them have problems with Macedonia.”

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SETTING SERBIA DATE AND LEAVING MACEDONIA BEHIND WOULD BE EU DISGRACE
MIC – June 24, 2013 – 12:48pm

The Irish Presidency of the European Union dispelled all hopes that the Union would set the Republic of Macedonia a date for opening accession talks at the June summit of the European Council following five positive reports on Macedonia by the European Commission. According to the EU Presidency, the issue of setting Macedonia a date will be reopened in autumn and decided at the December summit of the European Council during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Union. At the summit next week, experts say, there will be neither a date nor a conclusion for Macedonia.

Ambassador Risto Nikoski told Vecer that it would be a disgrace for the Union if Serbia was set a date for launching negotiations and Macedonia was left behind.

“The announcement of the Irish Presidency that Macedonia will not be on the agenda is not at all surprising. On the contrary, it is logical in a way and there are two key factors why it is so. The first one is Bulgaria’s intention to block, too. The second one is related to the first one – blocking Macedonia again while setting Serbia a date for negotiations will be a disgrace for the Union. Even though Serbia held the whole region hostage for ten years because of Milosevic’s policies, Belgrade is now making headway, while Macedonia is left behind. This would truly be a major disgrace for Brussels,” Nikoski explains.

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NEITHER CONCLUSION NOR DATE FOR MACEDONIA AT EU SUMMIT IN JUNE
MIC – June 20, 2013 – 2:11pm

After seven years of holding the status of a candidate member state and four consecutive recommendations from the European Commission, Macedonia will not be set a date for opening membership negotiations at the summit of the European Council  later this month.

The Irish Presidency of the European Union dispelled all hopes that the Union will eventually prove to be broad-minded setting Macedonia a date for opening membership negotiations following five positive reports with recommendations from the European Commission, MIA’s Brussels-based correspondent reports.

After two days of meetings by the COREPER group made up of the ambassadors of the EU member states, the Irish Presidency said that at the summit of the European Council on 27 and 28 June, only setting Serbia a date for talks would be discussed.
 

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CoE to reopen its office in Macedonia
MIC – June 19, 2013 – 9:55am

After almost three years, the Council of Europe wishes to reopen its office in Macedonia. If the recommendation of the report of Robert Walter from the European Democratic Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is put into practice, Macedonia is going to join the nine countries – Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldavia, Serbia, Ukraine and Kosovo – where the CoE has offices. The Council of Europe used to have an office of informative nature in Macedonia for 13 years and closed it in end 2010.

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Flash News
MIC – June 19, 2013 – 8:42am

- Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki at Tuesday’s press-conference after the US-Adriatic Charter ministerial meeting in Skopje said that Macedonia in the name dispute is advocating intensive talks based on arguments as the arguments are on our side, adding that Greece is the one holding all the cards.

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Flash News
MIC – June 18, 2013 – 9:51am

-    Macedonia’s top priorities remain opening accession talks with the EU and joining NATO, in the attainment of which the country is strongly backed by the USA. This was agreed upon at the meeting between Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov and Philip Reeker, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, in Skopje Monday. Reeker is on a visit to Macedonia to attend the conference of the Adriatic Group set for Tuesday. The two officials also said that Croatia’s accession to the EU and the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina were the most significant events in the region recently that would reflect positively on the stability of the whole region and its European integration.

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Flash News
MIC – June 17, 2013 – 8:46am

- Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki over the weekend took part in the annual European Forum Wachau in Austria and met with Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger. Poposki stressed that it is crucial for Austria and for the countries in the region the EU enlargement process to continue. He added that it would be beneficial for entire Europe to continue expanding the most successful project of peace and stability. The discussions at the forum were focused on several issues, including security and defense policy, solidarity, growth and budget consolidation and the role of culture in European integration and EU external relations.

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Flash News
MIC – June 14, 2013 – 1:39pm

- Macedonia should get set with a date for the EU accession talks date and the positive experience of parallel development of processes should be applied, President Gjorge Ivanov told counterpart at Thursday’s Central Europe Summit, held in Bratislava. Ivanov stressed that EU could not speak on behalf of Europe, adding that “when our region joins the EU, then the Union can speak on behalf of Europe. That is why Europe is an incomplete process.”

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BORCE DAVITKOVSKI APPOINTED CHAIRMAN OF INQUIRY COMMITTEE
MIC – June 13, 2013 – 12:30pm

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and SDSM leader Zoran Zaev took little over two hours to persuade Borce Davitkovski, Dean of the Faculty of Law, to accept the office of president of the inquiry committee tasked with investigating the events of 24 December and before and determine whether the Constitution and the laws had been violated.

Professor Davitkovski will be chairing a 5-member committee most of whose members are professors at the Faculty of Law in Skopje. The committee includes Professor Ljubomir Frckoski and Renata Treneska-Deskovska as representatives of SDSM and MPs Blagorodna Dulik and Ilija Dimovski as representatives of VMRO-DPMNE.
 

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