Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani called on the two smaller, opposition ethnic Albanian parties BESA and Alliance of Albanians to support the amendments to rename Macedonia into North Macedonia. According to Osmani, who comes from the near-permanently ruling ethnic Albanian party DUI, joining NATO should be the highest goal for Albanians in Macedonia, and the constitutional amendments will ensure that.

There is no higher ethnic interest for Albanians than Macedonia’s membership in NATO. This is a greater and more essential Albanian interest than any other ethnic interest at the moment. It will guarantee that Albanians will be part of the western European family of values where we strived to be for generations, said Osmani.

BESA and AA said they might oppose the four amendments which go before Parliament tomorrow demanding that they further remove any mention of Macedonians in the Constitution, beyond what Greece demanded and the Zoran Zaev Government agreed to. Osmani agreed with them that the amendments could be changed further, but he said that this is a delicate process which involves many sides.

We were involved in the creation of the Prespa agreement, and we witnessed that a single coma in the text of the amendments means one more or one less vote in Parliament. This process needs to end with a two thirds majority in a Parilament that includes many political groups from many ethnic parties. Maybe a mistake was that we relaxed after the initial vote on October 19th, and everybody thought that the process is over. The process ends with the final vote, said Osmani.

Zaev’s Government largely depends on the votes of ethnic Albanian voters and members of Parliament, as a significant majority of ethnic Macedonians opposes renaming the country. Using politically motivated criminal charges against former VMRO-DPMNE membrers of Parliament he got to 80 votes to begin the process of amending the Constitution. But opposition from BESA and AA, if their leaders are able to hold their groups in Parliament together and withstand pressures from the executive and international representatives in the country, could set Zaev back far from the goal of reaching a two thirds majority.

Osmani reminded the press that his party leader Ali Ahmeti expressed his concern over the successful outcome of the process shortly after the initial vote in mid October. After Ahmeti’s statement, some DUI party members briefed that a criminal investigations aimed at party officials is the reason why Ahmeti is concerned and that he insisted these charges are removed before DUI can support the amendments.