Dimitrov: Constitutional amendments are not written nor negotiated

The constitutional amendments are not written nor negotiated. They are formulated in Parliament by a two-third majority, through public debate, discussions in committees, in line with the Rules of Procedures,” said Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on Monday.

FM Dimitrov elaborated the four constitutional amendments in question, resulting from the agreement with Greece.

“The first refers to the geographic qualifier North added to the name Macedonia. The second focuses on the inviolability of borders and lack of territorial pretensions from both countries. In the third, the care for members of the Macedonian minority in neighboring countries will be enlarged to the care for the rights of the entire diaspora across the globe. And finally, in the preamble, nothing will be changed regarding the state-legal narrative, beginning with the 1903 Ilinden Uprising, via ASNOM in 1944 and the 1991 independence referendum, but will individually list the ASNOM’s constitutive decisions. The wording is neither there, nor it has been negotiated, because this is a task for the Parliament,” Dimitrov told reporters at a press conference related to the name agreement.

Asked about the possibility of securing a two-third majority for the constitutional amendments, the FM said this depended on the citizens.

“Citizens have the key. We have been in the NATO waiting room since 2008 and the country has been an EU candidate since 2005. This is the door for this key. Six days from now we should decide, not as parties, government, opposition, but all together as people – the Macedonian people and parts of other people living with us – whether we will use this key or not. The more people say ‘yes’, the more stability it brings, the country’s statehood will be sealed, making the political process in the Parliament easier,” said Dimitrov.

He added that the authorities are working on securing a two-third majority for the constitutional amendments and completion of the process by the end of December.

Clarifying the identity concept in Article 7 of the name deal, Dimitrov said term ‘Macedonian’ refers to a different historical context and cultural heritage.

“When a Greek in Thessaloniki and Athens says ‘we are Macedonians too’, they refer to another concept. This is elaborated in Article 7. When we say ‘I am Macedonian’, we refer to our state-legal and historic narrative. This is a narrative resulting from a historic process. The key years in ours are 1903, 1944 and 1991, but of course, this is a process that had begun many years before. No one can challenge our right of self-determination or self-identification in the 21. century,” stressed Dimitrov.

He said there are no ‘Northmacedonian’ adjectives in the agreement, but only ‘Macedonian’.

“The distinction between our and their Macedonia is the geographic qualifier North. This geographic qualifier cannot change who we are. This is stated in Article 7. The text will be detailed further, but it is a fact that both countries are maturing together,” added Dimitrov.

He said the referendum is not a legal aspect noted in the agreement, but a political pledge and promise, both by SDSM in its election programme, but also by VMRO-DPMNE back in 2005.

“The turnout is not mentioned in VMRO-DPMNE’s 2016 election programme. It only says that ‘citizens will be asked if there is an agreement, and if the majority says ‘yes’, we will confirm the agreement.’ They have urged for a referendum since 2005 and we have come to this day. It is time to unite around this issue,” underlined Dimitrov.