DUI leader keeps options open as coalition talks begin in Macedonia

By bne IntelliNews January 11, 2017

The leader of Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), Ali Ahmeti, said on January 11 that his party will negotiate with the conservative VMRO-DPMNE on the formation of new government, but underlined he is also open to other options.

The negotiations have yet to start officially, after Nikola Gruevski, ex-prime minister and leader of VMRO-DPMNE, was given a mandate to form the new government on January 9. VMRO-DPMNE has governed since 2006 and narrowly won Macedonia's December 11 election. The DUI has been its junior partner in government since 2008.

Other options for the DUI include holding talks with the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party, which narrowly lost the election, creating a technical government or going into opposition, Ahmeti told broadcaster TV21.

VMRO-DPMNE has 51 seats in the new parliament, while the opposition SDSM has 49 seats. The remaining seats are divided between four ethnic Albanian parties, meaning neither of the two largest parties can form a government without bringing at least some of the Albanian parties on board.

The DUI gained 10 seats in the 120-seat parliament, but their number was almost halved compared with the previous elections. Many analysts say that another coalition between the  two former partners, VMRO-DPMNE and DUI, would be disastrous.

On January 7, the DUI, alongside Besa and the Alliance for the Albanians, adopted a joint platform asking for more rights as a prerequisite for their participation in the new coalition government. Demands include the introduction of Albanian language on the whole territory of Macedonia. The platform was drafted in consultation with political leaders from Albania and Kosovo.

Ahmeti did not rule out the possibility of another snap election, if the platform drafted by the three ethnic Albanian parties is not accepted by their Macedonian partners.

Meanwhile, on January 10, Macedonian outgoing Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki accused Albania and Kosovo of interfering in Macedonian internal affairs.

“It is inappropriate and rude for a leader or a president of a neighboring country to directly interfere in internal affairs. Especially not after the democratically conducted elections and before formation of a new government, as this move would be sending wrong signals to the region,” Poposki said in a government statement.

According to media reports, leaders of Macedonia's ethnic Albanian political parties held meetings with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Kosovan President Hashim Thaci before they drafted the political platform.

“This approach is dangerous in a country with a multicultural tradition,” Poposki added.

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