the new president refuses to use the official name of the country


The President of North Macedonia, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, during her inauguration ceremony in Skopje, May 12, 2024. OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI / REUTERS

Newly elected, the first female president of North Macedonia refused to pronounce the new name of the country used since an agreement concluded in 2018 with Greece. “I declare that I will exercise the office of President of Macedonia conscientiously and responsibly, that I will respect the Constitution and the laws and that I will protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Macedonia”declared Sunday May 12 Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova in front of the deputies of Parliament and guests during her swearing-in.

In the official text, which she repeated, it is indeed the constitutional name of North Macedonia which is used. Skopje concluded an agreement in 2018 “historical” with Greece, agreeing to add the geographical mention ” North “ on behalf of the country, to put an end to a long-standing quarrel with its neighbor, which for this reason blocked its membership in NATO and its accession negotiations with the European Union (EU).

The country has since become a member of NATO. But the nationalist right-wing formation VMRO-DPMNE, of which Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova was the candidate in the last presidential election, opposed this agreement with Greece.

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Departure of the Greek ambassador

Athens reacted strongly to Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova’s comments. His statement is a “flagrant violation of the Prespa Agreement and the Constitution of the neighboring country, which is in line with its international obligations”wrote the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release.

“Greece categorically declares that further progress in its bilateral relations with North Macedonia and the latter’s European journey depends on the full implementation of the Prespa Agreement and, above all, on the use of the constitutional name from the neighboring country »added the Greek ministry.

Greece’s ambassador to Skopje left the ceremony at Parliament in protest, local media reported, citing the Greek embassy.

Skopje reminded to respect its commitments

Initially, the Macedonian president’s taking office was welcomed from Brussels by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. But in President of the European Commission judged “primordial” that North Macedonia “continues on the path of reforms and fully respects its commitments” with a view to joining the EU.

The VMRO-DPMNE also came well ahead of the legislative elections, which also took place on May 8, securing 58 of the 120 seats in Parliament by defeating the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), in power since 2017. The return to power of the right-wing opposition in this poor Balkan country of 1.8 million inhabitants risks reviving tensions with Greece, but also with Bulgaria, which sets its own conditions to advance negotiations. for North Macedonia to join the EU.

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Elected on May 8 for a five-year mandate, defeating with 65% of the votes the outgoing social-democrat head of state, Stevo Pendarovski, Mme Siljanovska-Davkova is the first woman to access this position since the proclamation of independence of this small Balkan country in 1991. This retired university professor, who celebrated her 71st birthday on Saturdaye birthday, assured that she would be the president of “all citizens” and called to the” unit “ in the country.

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