During the portion of today’s TV duel on EU accession, VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski asked SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev why he keeps deluding the public that the EU has approved a date when Macedonia will open accession talks. After being denied a date in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Macedonia currently has a draft negotiating framework, which is still open to changes by EU member states, and no date. But Zaev presented an article in the framework as if the EU recognized the Macedonian language and is in the process of making it an official EU language,  and is now campaigning on this “coup”.

You should be honest with the citizens and tell them that the framework was prepared by the office of Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, who comes from the Hungarian ruling Fidesz party, our sister party, based in the city of Budapest, which you keep mentioning in a negative context here. You would do well to express your gratitude to our brotherly Hungary for its support for our EU accession. But also, you should tell the voters the truth, that this is not the final version of the text, and that it will go through changes, Mickoski told Zaev. Bulgaria in particular is expected to oppose declaring the Macedonian language an official EU language.

Pressed with corruption scandals, Zaev took to trying to present Mickoski as an underling of former party leader Nikola Gruevski, who sought political asylum in Hungary after prosecutors aligned with Zaev exposed him to a series of political trials.

Mickoski reminded Zaev that because of his mishandling of the coronavirus epidemic, and the fact that Macedonia has by far the worst death and infection rates in the region, the country is now completely cut off from the EU, the European borders firmly closed for Macedonian citizens. He presented Zaev as a person who lives for being lauded by EU officials, despite all the national concessions that Macedonia was forced to endure.

You seem to rejoice walking the red carpets. I’m pained by the humiliation and the embarrassment you caused Macedonia, Mickoski told the SDSM leader.