Dimitrov: The referendum is a political pledge, not a legal aspect noted in the agreement

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said Monday that 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.

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.

“If the referendum turns out to be successful and the majority of people vote in favour of the new name, then VMRO-DPMNE will respect it,” VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said an in interview last week.

“If the majority of people vote in favour of the name, then the situation is clear”, Mickoski said. According to him, if such thing happens, he will invite his party’s MPs to back the constitutional amendments, which need to be voted by two thirds of MPs in order for them to be ratified.

President Gjorge Ivanov reiterated that he would not vote at the September 30 referendum.

“Renaissance men fought for freedom from spiritual slavery. Revolutionaries fought for freedom from political slavery. Should we now, after all this sacrifice, run into a new slavery? Should we deny ourselves of the freedom to call ourselves by our own name? Should we be afraid of saying there is a Republic of Macedonia, thus insulting someone? To say Republic of Macedonia is no shame,” added Ivanov.

The statement of President Gjorge Ivanov that he will not vote at the coming referendum is no surprise for us. Shying away from responsibility is shameful, and on top of that, uttered from across the ocean not in Macedonia,” said Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on Monday.

FM Dimitrov referred to Ivanov’s past actions to pardon individuals charged with corruption, crime and abuse of office, and the failure to give the mandate to the party having a majority in Parliament, resulting in the April 27 events.

“He often claims to be defending the Constitution, but it cannot be defended by violating it. There is no presidential system in Macedonia, the country is a parliamentary democracy. The President is obliged to sign the Agreement with Greece, which the Parliament endorsed on two occasions. The referendum is the highest democratic means in every democracy. Many generations have been lost, 27 years have gone by, and people will now have a say on this. Abstaining from voting is shying away from responsibility. On top of this, he is not saying this here, but from across the ocean,” said Dimitrov.

“You cannot sit at home and affect the decision. If there is only one vote ‘no’ and against the EU and NATO accession, we will bow to the decision. However, only the ones who vote can influence this decision. If a large majority of citizens says ‘yes’, even if the required turnout is not reached, we will take this into account, but the issue will go back to the Parliament. Therefore, not taking part in such a big decision is shying away from responsibility,” added Dimitrov.

He noted that everyone in Macedonia wants to join EU and NATO without solving the name issue, but one cannot say ‘I favor EU and NATO’ without elaborating how.

A decision the citizens of Macedonia will make in the upcoming referendum is crucial for the country’s future, US Ambassador Jess Baily told reporters Monday during his visit to Kumanovo.

‘I am glad to be here when Macedonia is at a crossroad. I hope that citizens will come out and voice their own opinion in the referendum – a significant part of the democratic process in the country,’ Baily said.