VMRO-DPMNE deputy leader Aleksandar Nikoloski said that the party supported the law on amnesty solely because the defendants are accused for political reasons.

– If it weren’t for the charges over April 27th, they would’ve come up with other charges, for something else, only to take the members of Parliament hostage and force them to vote for the constitutional amendments. I don’t approve of the choice made by those who voted in favor of the amendments, I believe they made a mistake which will pain them in the future, but at the same time I can’t approve of the tactics used by the Government which is toying with people, their lives, destroys their careers and families, only to reach the votes in Parliament they need. This only shows what type of unscrupulous people we are dealing with, said Nikoloski.

Three members of Parliament who are charged in this incident voted against the VMRO-DPMNE party line and supported opening the process to amend the Constitution and rename Macedonia into North Macedonia. Five others joined them, most of them also facing charges in different cases. They negotiated with the Government on this amnesty law which covers the April 27th incident in the Parliament, and are believed to be also negotiating pardons for the other charges filed by politically controlled prosecutors.

– There were no divisions in the party on this issue. We believe that the charges filed for April 27th are a political construct and that the only way to answer them is to give a political answer. We proposed a law on amnesty, it was rejected, and then the Government proposed a version of its own. Their law is selective and doesn’t cover all defendants, which we believe is a mistake, but as a party we believe it is better to help the people being charged now who can receive amnesty, than leaving them in a bind, facing unjust, politically driven charges, said Nikoloski. VMRO-DPMNE eventually supported the law which was accepted with 95 votes in favor.

Earlier today one of the most prominent political prisoners in this case, opera singer Igor Durlovski, announced he will not be asking for an amnesty. He joins two other defendants, Jane Cento and Igor Jug, who declared the same.

Nikoloski said that the leading opposition party is developing well after the split caused by the faction which voted in favor of amending the Constitution. The party then expelled a number of former officials such as Saso Mijalkov and Nikola Todorov, and Nikoloski says that this is the third time VMRO-DPMNE has “cleaned up” its ranks, something the now ruling SDSM party has not done even once.

– We looked inward, we allowed our members and delegates to speak their mind, and we held a historic session of the Central Committee where we faced all these challenges. This resulted with a direction shift of the party and gave us new impetus. We have members who had left the party returning to the fold now, and we are also receiving new members, added Nikoloski.