President Stevo Pendarovski confirmed the widely shared reports that former US Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily was meeting with the eight members of Parliament who in 2019 voted for the imposed name change.

The group were elected on the VMRO-DPMNE ticket and all opposed changing the name and national identity of Macedonia. But three were charged with “terrorism”, one with corruption, another had her son charged with corruption and various other forms of pressure and bribes were reportedly used to get them to change their vote. The three “terrorists” were tactically released from detention by the court right before the first vote on the Prespa Treaty with Greece, in which the US was heavily invested.

The eight from VMRO-DPMNE who voted when the Constitution was about to be amended had a very long meeting with the US Ambassador in the Marriott hotel. It was quite long, lasted hours. He was persuading them. He didn’t threaten them. But now, it would be unimaginable that something like that happens again, Pendarovski said. The hotel where they met is owned by former state security chief Saso Mijalkov, who reportedly worked to secure the votes in his former VMRO-DPMNE party.

Macedonia faces another major national concessions – this time from Bulgaria – which wants the Constitution amended to include the ethnic Bulgarian in its preamble, and threatens to continue to block Macedonia’s EU accession if the country doesn’t cave. The Government again doesn’t have the votes it needs to amend the Constitution – even with all Albanian parties in favor, it still needs at least six votes from VMRO. Pendarovski came out several times to state that the forms of pressure used in 2019 should not happen again, considering how divisive they were and how badly they deteriorated the political situation in Macedonia.