VMRO-DPMNE not afraid of getting dumped by its sister parties

VMRO-DPMNE not afraid of getting dumped by its sister parties
With carefully selected words at first, and now with direct accusations, the European People's Party (EPP) address its messages to their member VMRO-DPMNE. The EPP asks of VMRO-DPMNE to show statehood and to vote on the constitutional changes in the Parliament, which would lead Macedonia to realize its European dream. Otherwise, the opposition would be responsible for the missed chance that will shake the entire region, not just Macedonia.

The last one who issued such warnings is EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who, in an interview with the Austrian Der Standard says he is ware of threats by the opposition against MPs who want to abandon partisan lines and support the Prespa Agreement in Parliament. He asked the VMRO-DPMNE to renounce such destructive approach and put interests of the country and its people before the ones of the party. He adds that the party will bear full responsibility for closing the doors of the EU for Macedonia, if the agreement is not adopted.

"This is completely unacceptable for a party claiming to be pro-European and democratic," says Hahn.

He says that Euro-Atlantic integration is VMRO-DPMNE's declared goal, but the party should demonstrate this by actions, because the agreement with Greece opens EU and NATO accession doors. The commissioner says the referendum was purely consultative and a vast majority voted 'Yes'.

"The calls for boycott are a testimony of a lack of democratic maturity," adds Hahn.

According to him, early elections bring the risk of breaching the Prespa Agreement time-frames, adding that a snap vote is not a guarantee that the required two-third majority will be reached.

"This is an opportunity that must be seized. On the contrary, the road to EU accession could be a long one," says Hahn.

He notes that VMRO-DPMNE will be completely responsible for such a scenario and the missed opportunity, which is important both for Macedonia and the entire region.

The leader of the European right-wing parties, Joseph Daul, expressed disappointment with the behavior of the opposition in the country.

"An important decision on the future of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the whole region in the EU and NATO should be made. I remain disappointed with the role of the opposition in the process so far, and constructiveness must prevail over the boycott. The dialogue between those in power in the FYROM and the opposition is needed because this is an important part of democracy," wrote Daul.

The largest group in the European Parliament

The European People's Party is the largest group of parties on the Old Continent. The EPP was established in 1976 with the collection of several Christian chapters, and was later joined by several conservative parties from the right center. Since 1999, they have a majority in the European Council and most representatives in the European Commission. Their section is the CDU of Angela Merkel, the UMP of Emanuel Macron, the Spanish People's Party, Forza Italy of Silvio Berlusconi, Fidesz of Victor Orban, the Greek New Democracy, the Croatian HDZ... and recently the SNP of Aleksandar Vucic. There is not a single party from the UK, because the conservative party there does not agree with the EPP's federal political programme. Therefore, in 2009, they formed the Union of European Conservatives and Reformers as counterweights.

Currently, the EPP has 274 out of 751 MPs in the European Parliament. Mutual loyalty was visible only recently when voting to strip Hungary of the right to vote in the EU Council over its migration policies. Although Merkel's allies were all against Orban, only 114 EPP MPs voted "in favor". Others were either against or abstained, and some did not show up at the moment of voting.

In May this year, the EPP threatened the Bosnian SDA and HDZ BiH to put the interests of the state before those of the party, and to bring changes to the Electoral Code. Daul told them that the party would be otherwise sanctioned. After many quarrels and accusations, a new Election Law was passed, which, by the way, is still disputed today, but it is put in force.

The opposition will not vote on constitutional changes

VMRO-DPMNE, meanwhile, says that the party understands the messages that come from abroad, but there is no change in its position.

"To our EPP partners, it is most important that the dispute is settled in any possible way. But they do not live here. And the people confirmed in the referendum what we say all the time: the deal is bad, it interferes in the identity, history, language, minorities... Now, how can we go against the people? We remain in our position, we will not support constitutional changes in order to change the constitutional name," said a VMRO-DPMNE official.

According to him, there is no speculation that the party will be removed from the family of European People's Party.

"It’s their job is to put pressure. We are politicians, we must know how to handle it. It will pass," our interlocutor claims.

A few days ago, the German parliamentarist Johann Wadephul, on behalf of the ruling CDU / CSU ruling group in the Bundestag, said that if the constitutional changes were not passed in the Parliament, VMRO-DPMNE would be directly politically responsible for the Macedonia's blocked path to NATO and the EU, for the isolation of the state in Europe. CDU and VMRO-DPMNE in the past, especially to the outbreak of the wiretapping scandal in 2015, had a close and fruitful cooperation. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which fosters close links with the CDU, has been helping VMRO-DPMNE for years in training personnel, political consultations and contacts with European parties.

Similar statements from the EPP family are expected to continue in the coming days. Depending on the feedback received from VMRO-DPMNE, some European conservative circles are also considering a more direct threat to the party that would also foresee suspension of membership in the EPP. However, for now, nobody openly wants to comment on this possibility, and because of the short deadlines that Macedonia is facing, it is also a question of whether it would be the real option at this point.

Goran Adamovski

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