Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced additional amendments to the Constitution with more concessions to his growing ethnic Albanian base, where he competes for votes against the DUI, AA and BESA parties, as ethnic Macedonians turn their back on him.

Speaking with the Albanian language Alsat TV, Zaev said that he may support re-opening the Constitution to amend the clause about the official use of a language spoken by more than 20 percent of the population. The clause was inserted following the 2001 Albanian insurgency, in a bid to secure peace, but without turning Macedonia into a bilingual state where the reduced use of the Macedonian language would make the two largest communities drift further apart. Zaev is already trying to introduce the Albanian language as a second official language through a controversial law, and now wants to officially give it a place in the Constitution. Albanian parties demand that the percentage designation is scrapped and replaced with the words Albanians and Albanian language.

We don’t want a community to be designated with percentages. All citizens should be equal in their rights. I have no prejudices here, I would absolutely open the Constitution, especially in order to remain honest toward you. But, Macedonia will be joining the EU and sooner or later we will have to open certain issues in the Constitution, Zaev told Alsat, also connecting the constitutional amendments with the coming presidential elections where his SDSM party would have to rely on Albanian votes to elect a President, or possibly even amend the Constitution so that the next President is elected in the Parliament.

The move comes as doubts are raised whether ethnic Albanians even amount to 20 percent of the residents in the country, given the high emigration rates and the way Albanian politicians opposed completing the 2011 census. Professor Tanja Karakamiseva, a prominent critic of the Government, recently presented data on total citizenships being issued and insisted that Albanians make up no more than 17 percent of the population.