Interim Interior Minister Pance Toskovski announced that 30,000 new blank passports have arrived to Macedonia, but warned that the bottleneck in this vital service will remain.

Estimated 600,000 Macedonian citizens had their passports declared invalid by their own Government, as part of the imposed Prespa name change treaty, and the Ministry remains unable to catch up. The main initial issue was the inability of the Ministry to register the applications of citizens requesting new passports – a process that includes taking a picture of the applicant. That was largely resolved under Toskovski, but the problem remains in the deliveries of blank passports and mostly – in the fact that there are only two printing machines with capacity of printing 3,000 passports a day.

If the previous Government had ordered several more machines and had our capacity at 6,000 passports a day, we would not have the current waiting lines that force an applicant to wait for two months. But the facts are what they are, Toskovski said.

Toskovski, who is appointed by the VMRO-DPMNE party due to the pre-election power sharing agreement, faced criticism from his SDSM appointed deputy Mitko Bojmacaliev, who lamented the fact that hundreds of thousands of applicants did not receive their passports in the legally provided period of three weeks, and tried to accuse Toskovski, who was only appointed in January, of the problem. Bojmacaliev was deputy to Oliver Spasovski, who was Interior Minister since 2016, and left the Ministry without blank passports and with insufficient printing capacity, in a move that many have described as deliberate attempt to leave a huge mess for the incoming opposition appointed Minister.

Bojmacaliev won’t have to go to the Greek border to take pictures with the newly delivered passports, he can find them at the Ministry warehouse, Toskovski responded, alluding to the memorable moment when, at the peak of the passport crisis, Bojmacaliev went to the border to “welcome” a delivery of blank passports with a formal salute.