Macedonian Presidential Candidates Divided on Inclusion of Bulgarians in Constitution

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | April 24, 2024, Wednesday // 09:00
Bulgaria: Macedonian Presidential Candidates Divided on Inclusion of Bulgarians in Constitution

The debate surrounding the inclusion of Bulgarians in North Macedonia's constitution, a crucial precondition for the country's European Union accession talks, has taken center stage in the ongoing presidential campaign. As candidates vie for support, their stances on this contentious issue highlight diverging perspectives within the political landscape.

Among the contenders, Stevo Pendarovski and Bujar Osmani, both affiliated with the ruling majority in recent years, have expressed support for the constitutional amendments. Their endorsement reflects a commitment to meeting the EU's requirements and advancing North Macedonia's integration into the European bloc.

However, the remaining candidates have adopted more nuanced positions, with varying degrees of evasiveness and alternative proposals. Arban Taravari, for instance, emphasizes the need for additional guarantees to prevent future impositions on North Macedonia, a stance criticized by Osmani and his Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) party as potentially appeasing the Albanian opposition aligned with VMRO-DPMNE.

Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova refrains from offering a definitive solution to the impasse arising from the failure to secure a majority for the amendments in August 2023. Instead, she advocates for increased collaboration through joint declarations and alternative initiatives. Similarly, Maksim Dimitrijevski and Stevco Jakimovski advocate for delaying the implementation of constitutional changes, with Dimitrijevski linking it to North Macedonia's EU accession and Jakimovski tying it to the resolution of bilateral disputes over language and identity.

Bilyana Vankovska of the "Levitsa" party takes a more radical stance, calling for the denouncement of the Good Neighbor Agreement with Bulgaria—a move that could further exacerbate tensions between the two countries.

As the presidential campaign unfolds, the candidates' divergent views on the inclusion of Bulgarians in the constitution underscore the complexities and sensitivities surrounding North Macedonia's path towards EU membership.

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Tags: Macedonian, Bulgarian, constitution, EU

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