Leaders’ meeting today at 5 pm

The leaders meeting to be hosted by President Stevo Pendarovski at 5 pm Sunday will focus on organizing the snap election announced after North Macedonia didn’t get a date to start EU talks.

Attending the meeting will be SDSM president Zoran Zaev, VMRO-DPMNE president Hristijan Mickoski, DUI president Ali Ahmeti, Alliance for the Albanians president Zijadin Sela, Alternativa president Afrim Gashi, and Besa president Bilal Kasami.

Almost all parties approve of the idea to call a snap election. The government said it wants the people to have their say about the course the country should take, while also asking to be given a new term to continue ongoing reforms.

The opposition asked the people to punish the government for its failure to start talks with the EU as well as to restore their trust in them so the country could see, in their words, “a new beginning.”

North Macedonia didn’t get a date for talks with the EU because the union had its own issues to resolve, but “we did it all, and we should keep motivated” to continue forward to Europe, said PM Zoran Zaev addressing the nation Saturday when he announced the snap election.

“A great injustice was done to us in Brussels,” Zaev said, calling the EU’s refusal to start talks a “historic mistake.” However, he added, we also have to take responsibility for our own decisions.

“I felt the anger and disappointment and bitterness. This is our nation, and our nation should decide. We’re not great. We make mistakes. But there’s no other right way. This is the way.”

Zaev reiterated that the snap election should be fair and democratic. He wouldn’t speculate on the date, however, adding that he’d like to hear everyone else first, including “the smaller parties, too. Countries that strive for European values should encourage democracy. “

“Together we’ll decide,” he said.

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, following an event held by his party’s Talks for the Renewal of Macedonia campaign in Gostivar, said he expected that party leaders should agree on calling a snap election.

Mickoski highlighted he wouldn’t accept any early election without an interim government, i.e., nothing outside the legal framework. “The law is clear,” Mickoski said.

“You know what a parliamentary election means.

“We simply have to respect this,” he added, asking that an interim government be formed as soon as possible.

A snap election, Mickoski reiterated, was necessary not only to rise to power but to contribute towards the country’s future and progress “in the direction it should progress.”

“What I’d said in the past,” Mickoski continued, “Zaev has confirmed. Macedonia needs a new beginning so we can turn it into a modern state.”

DUI leader Ali Ahmeti agreed to the snap election idea, as well.

“An early election is the best decision for our country,” Ahmeti said, adding that blaming and finding fault was unproductive.

“The best solution is to come up with a new proposal for citizens.”

Ahmeti also said the unfavorable decision by Brussels shouldn’t be cause for despair. Instead, he said, we should focus on implementing our reforms better.

Alternativa leader Afrim Gashi is also in favor of the announced snap election, which would give the people the chance to choose their favorite representatives, he said.

Gashi also asked for the state to improve the Electoral Code and verify its voter list.

“That the door to EU integration is seriously blocked is reason enough to call an imperative early election,” Gashi said.

It’s good news that a snap parliamentary election will be held, Alliance for Albanians party spokesman Flakron Bexheti said, too.

Bexheti added that Sunday’s leaders meeting would be an opportunity for parties to agree on how to proceed with the electoral process.

“We’re convinced the state needs a new political legitimacy, led by a political force having the credibility to be held accountable and to get the date as soon as possible,” Bexheti said. “We, the Alliance for Albanians, are ready for an early election, strongly convinced as we are that we can win over our political opponents, DUI, who have represented Albanian voters for a long time: two decades,” Bexheti highlighted.

BESA leader Bila Kasami had previously blamed the government for Brussels not setting a date for starting talks while also asking for a snap election.

“Though this government made many promises,” Kasami said, “it hasn’t fulfilled almost any, and has only made our country regress.

“Now the country is in a deep crisis, and overcoming it requires that this government tender its collective resignation so we can call an early election as soon as possible.”