Monday, 18 December 2017 | News today: 14

Zaev and Ahmeti say the overcame many differences on the Albanian language law

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The leaders of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) Ali Ahmeti and Zoran Zaev met on Tuesday evening in the DUI party headquarters in the Mala Recica area of Tetovo, to discuss progress in their talks on forming a coalition. Following the meeting, both Zaev and Ahmeti said that some differences were overcome in the talks that have been focused on the DUI request for a law that will elevate the Albanian language to the same level as the Macedonian language in its official use.

“The will of DUI and SDSM is to have legal solutions in the law on the use of languages that are in line with the Constitution. That means we will not allow anything outside of the Constitution. At the end of the day, even if issues remain open, the day of negotiations doesn’t end now. We can leave these issues to be detailed debated over six months, in a public debate, to define whether something is constitutional and acceptable”, Zaev said. His party narrowly lost the elections with 49 seats in Parliament to VMRO-DPMNE’s 51. DUI have additional 10 seats and together with SDSM and another smaller ethnic Albanian party such as the Alliance of Albanians they could cobble together the 61 votes needed for the Government, but will not have the votes necessary to amend the Constitution which defines the official use of the Macedonian language and a language spoken by at least 20 percent of the population, which under the last census means the Albanian language.

After the meeting, Ahmeti said that he doesn’t have major differences with SDSM, and the party will continue looking for a solution that will be in the best interest of the citizens. “We discussed many topics with the SDSM leader, about the differences that exist between us, with regard to the Constitution, the political situation in the country”, Ahmeti said, adding that the DUI party bodies will now examine and analyse the proposals that were put before them, and that there was no talk about a coalition just yet.

Zaev said that a solution can be made within days, on whether he will receive the 61 signatures necessary to get the mandate to form a Government or not. President Gjorge Ivanov, who under the Constitution awards the mandate to form a Government, said that he will give it to a party leader who provides him with signed statements from 61 members of Parliament, and a program that will not damage the unitary character of the country.

Following the December 11th elections, at which SDSM took a sizable chunk of ethnic Albanian votes and nearly halved the representation of DUI in Parliament, DUI led the smaller ethnic Albanian parties in talks with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana, where they prepared a platform that calls for a number of ethnic concessions. Zaev said that all the issues in the platform that require the 2/3 majority will not be discussed, because amending the Constitution is impossible without votes from VMRO-DPMNE, which has refused this option.

Zaev said that a solution will be found on one of the Tirana platform demands – to give more resources to Albanian majority areas in public spending. The SDSM leader said that he will accept forming a Commission which will control the budget making process and will decide on spending allocation.

The newly formed BESA party, which took part in the talks in Tirana and has five seats in Parliament, has lately distanced itself from the talks with other Albanian parties, indicating it will rather remain in the opposition than join the next Government. In response, SDSM has turned to the Alliance of Albanians, which has three seats in Parliament. High SDSM representatives met on Tuesday with Alliance member and SDSM Secretary General Oliver Spasovski said that they expect to receive the signatures from their three MPs soon, putting SDSM closer to receiving the mandate.

In a televised interview, DUI spokesman Bujar Osmani said that the proposal for the use of the Albanian language will provide its use equal with the Macediinan language in all central institutions, as well as their local departments, and that DUI wants the law to be adopted in Parliament before any Government is formed, saying it will be last issue that remains unresolved from the 2001 Ohrid peace treaty. Osmani said that agreeing on the law on the languages is a condition before DUI can even continue talking with SDSM about whether Zoran Zaev should be designated as Prime Minister, or agreement on any other Government personnel issues can be reached