• Sunday, 14 July 2024

Kovachevski: Constitutional amendments exclusively within constitutional traditions that reflect country's multi-ethnic and civil character

Kovachevski: Constitutional amendments exclusively within constitutional traditions that reflect country's multi-ethnic and civil character

Skopje, 25 July 2023 (MIA) - The Government's proposal for constitutional amendments is completely and solely towards achieving our consensual and supreme state strategic goal - membership in the European Union, established since the country's independence in 1991, which today is the majority will of the citizens, a necessary and most important need and opportunity, especially for the current and future young generations because it enables and guarantees a real European present and future in the native country, Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski said Tuesday, elaborating the proposal for constitutional changes before the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. 


Kovachevski mentioned the EU Common Position, pointing out that equal rights of the communities are expected to be strengthened, in order to align with the Copenhagen criteria, adding that therefore, the country has undertaken the relevant constitutional amendments, to include in the Constitution the citizens who live in the country and are part of other nations. 


"North Macedonia's commitment within the EU accession negotiations, regarding the proposed constitutional amendments, is exclusively within the constitutional traditions that reflect the multi-ethnic and civil character of the Republic of North Macedonia, as a democratic state of equal citizens. After all, the European Union itself, which is our strategic commitment, is based on the values ​​of respect for human rights, freedom, equality, democracy and protection against discrimination on all grounds," said Kovachevski. 



The Republic of North Macedonia has a unique chance today, he added, to take the key step to continue on the European path, thus speed up the integration process, and join the EU in the next few years.


According to him, the constitutional amendments don't threaten any Macedonian identity issue.


"And this is completely clear and precise, it is a solid fact. At the same time, the proposal continues and intensifies the processes on the path to the full integration of the Republic of North Macedonia in the EU," the Prime Minister noted.


The citizens, he stressed, have nothing to worry about, and we, as responsible holders of public offices, have the obligation to explain it well and make wise decisions that open perspectives and don't get the country stuck in another long-year isolation.


"To explain this well, the proposed changes to the Constitution involve including parts of nations in the Preamble and Articles 49 and 78 of the Constitution, in listing the parts of nations in the country. That is, as regards to the wording: "The citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia, the Macedonian people, as well as citizens living within its borders who are part of the Albanian people, the Turkish people, the Vlach people, the Serbian people, the Romany people, the Bosniak people and others", a comma is placed after "the Bosniak people" and the following is added: the Bulgarian people, the Croatian people, the Montenegrin people, the Slovenian people, the Jewish people and the Egyptian people," Kovachevski said. 


He noted that consequently, a change is also made in the Committee on Community Relations regarding the parity of Parliament representatives from all communities listed in the Constitution Preamble.


The PM mentioned that 17 years after having been granted the candidate status, in July 2022, "we finally opened the negotiations, with such a wise political decision that allowed us to start the screening process, which is progressing successfully".


In addition, he pointed out, the Macedonian language and identity are preserved and protected with the Negotiating Framework, the first agreement with the European Commission on border management - the Frontex agreement, was signed in Macedonian language, without any additional explanations or footnotes, on an equal basis with other EU official languages. Currently, the entire European acquis is being translated into Macedonian.


"The period ahead is the time for a new, clear and consensual political decision and solutions. We should not miss this chance for Europe, this chance to take the country in the EU and bring European quality of life at home. It happened once, with Croatia, which has now been a member of the Union for 10 years. Whether the same thing will happen this year - you will decide here in this Parliament," said Kovachevski. 


European officials, he noted, clearly warn that the risk of decoupling North Macedonia and Albania exists, if the constitutional amendments are not adopted by the end of the year.


"This means that the constitutional amendments are not someone's dictate, or someone's separate proposal, but are part of the country's negotiating framework with the EU. Following the war in Ukraine, the transformation of the position on the speed and process of EU enlargement is real. Enlargement is seen not only as prosperity, but stability and security for Europe. And this is a unique moment, when we have a common interest with the EU and we must not miss it," the PM pointed out.



According to Kovachevski, the truth is that there will be no better deal, there will neither be a new agreement nor another negotiating framework. He added that this is not something that the Government has said, but it is what the European Union is saying.  


"Good neighborly relations are part of all accession processes, because it is in the interest of the Union to have good neighborly relations, for the sake of stability and economy. But good neighborly relations are something else. This is separate from bilateral issues such as history and identity. The experiences of the member states show that the identity is only reaffirmed and strengthened in the accession negotiations. The negotiation process is focused on reforms in the fight against corruption, judiciary, the rule of law, ecology, economy, social policy..." said Kovachevski. 


Kovachevski pointed out that before any decision is made, it must first be considered what is gained and what is lost, noting that the European Union is by far the biggest donor in the Western Balkans, as well as in the country, and highlighting its support.


"This support will continue, through new programs and much more funds, when we become a member of the European Union. We can see that with the progress of Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and even Bulgaria," the PM said. 


Membership in democratic, political, economic and security international alliances such as the EU and NATO has huge advantages and benefits for the country, he added. In this context, he mentioned the NATO membership, noting that it ensured security and territorial integrity, as well as a predictable climate for investment, as the country already sees a record number of foreign direct investments, reaching a historic amount of EUR 753 million amid conditions of crisis, which is twice as much compared to 2016.


In addition, Kovachevski said, messages from the strategic partners and from the EU must be taken into account, that North Macedonia's accession process will stop if the constitutional amendments don't pass, and other countries will move forward in the enlargement, while the country's membership in the Union will be delayed. He also mentioned the United States' unequivocal support for EU membership, and the U.S. expectation that everyone - both in the country and in the region, who says they want to see this country moving forward in European integration will deliver.


"But there is also the message that if North Macedonia takes a different path, if it decides against the constitutional amendments, if it moves away from the EU path, it will be a very concerning step for NATO members and will have an impact on relations with the United States," Kovachevski pointed out.    


After a long time, the policies in the past period made it possible for the Republic of North Macedonia to be seen as a country that is a factor of stability in the region and Europe. The country is part of a geostrategic process, aimed at the consolidation of the EU with the Western Balkan countries, said the PM.


Kovachevski reiterated that the current context requires maturity and responsible decisions.


"It is up to all of us whether the citizens will have European living conditions and a European standard of living," he said. 


Next year, the EU will focus on reforms in the Union itself, so that it can function with more member states. And North Macedonia, he stressed, will either remain outside the European family for a long time, or, North Macedonia and Albania will be the first countries to follow the new enlargement methodology. 


The Prime Minister called on the MPs at the session, attending from all the political parties, noting that in the following weeks, when the first vote is held, it will become clear who is working in their own interest only, and who is working in the interest of their children and the citizens they represent. 


"I believe that this parliamentary composition has the democratic capacity for authentic democratic decisions, which will put the Republic of North Macedonia firmly on the European path and ensure common European perspectives," Kovachevski said. 


Opposition MPs also delivered an address after the Prime Minister. VMRO-DPMNE MPs said they were against the constitutional amendments, whereas MPs from other parliamentary groups backed the changes.


At the beginning of the session, of the 17 MPs present, 10 voted in favor of the agenda while seven voted against. The Constitutional Committee's session is expected to end by the end of the day.