The coalition between SDSM and BESA is strained by the dispute over the identity cards, said VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski. In an interview with the Macedonian Radio, Mickoski said that SDSM promised BESA that it will allow the introduction of ethnic identity qualifiers in the identity cards carried by each adult citizen – which is a long standing demand from parties that represent ethnic Albanians.

BESA holds five seats in the Parliament – enough to condition the future survival of the Zaev Government – and now wants him to deliver. But by extension, it would mean that ethnic Macedonians will also have their identity listed, which is a big problem for Greece.

We Macedonians don’t have our identity listed in the official documents – they declare us as citizens of the country, using the new name. Zoran Zaev and SDSM are trying to impose a new national identity on us and unfortunately, they find support among the smaller players in the opposition, said Mickoski, who came out in support of the idea that citizens have their ethnic identity listed on the cards, and also demands that the use of the imposed name “North Macedonia” is postponed.

Zaev insisted that with the 2018 Prespa Treaty Greece accepted the right of the Macedonians to use this national identification. Greek sources, on the other hand, say that the treaty only allows Macedonians to use the term “Macedonian” to declare their citizenship, and even that with a qualifier “citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia”.

BESA wants Zaev to deliver, and he consulted a foreign diplomat, who warned him that adding the national identity Macedonian to the documents would violate the Prespa Treaty. This now creates pressure on Zaev within his coalition and his Government is having a glass jaw – it could collapse very quickly, Mickoski said. He blamed the small, populist Levica party of coordinating with Zaev and trying to save him from the situation. Levica filed over a thousand amendments to BESA’s proposal which is meant to block its adoption. This gives Zaev an exit – he can claim that he wanted to fulfill what was agreed in his coalition deal with BESA, but that he was blocked by a third party.

VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski was asked about the crude sexual pun Zaev made yesterday when discussing the issue. Zaev’s meaning was that VMRO-DPMNE should either support the proposal in full, or reject it in full, but the term he used is a well known, unprintable comment. Zaev is well known for making false statements or similarly cringy crude comments.

It’s not a coincidence that Zaev speaks in this way. It’s part of a strategy to have the public discuss how he said things and not go deeper into the essence of the matter. Even now, you don’t ask me about the base of the issue, what are the effects of having the ethnic identity listed in identity cards, but the question is about the latest stupid thing Zaev said. The essence is simple – with the Prespa Treaty that Zaev signed, the Macedonian national identity is erased and Macedonians are not allowed to self-identify as Macedonians, Nikoloski said during a visit to Tetovo.