President Ivanov should sign language bill into law by Thursday

President Gjorge Ivanov is expected by Thursday midnight to sign into law the bill regulating the use of languages or to send it back to Parliament with or without remarks. Parliament adopted the Law on the Use of Languages on January 11 before the document was sent to the President’s office.

It is uncertain how President Ivanov will act, i.e. whether he will sign the decree of the law. The President has up to seven days to sign the bill into law, his office has said.

The dilemma of whether Ivanov will sign the decree and whether the bill will be sent back to Parliament with remarks – which he is entitled to under the Constitution and the Rules of Procedures – was opened after his annual, year-end address in Parliament. Back then, Ivanov said the law was unconstitutional and represented a threat to the unitary character of the country. He said he would make his decision regarding the law on the basis of the written guarantees handed down to him for the protection of the unitary nature, sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and multi-ethnic character of the Republic of Macedonia. The law, Ivanov noted, must be in line with the Constitution and aligned with the Macedonian legislation.

President Ivanov has the right not to sign the bill into law. In the event of not signing the decree, in compliance with Article 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, Parliament will re-review the law and if it is passed by a majority of votes of the total number of MPs, the President is obliged to sign the bill into law. The President is also obliged to sign the decree in the event the law is passed by a two-third majority of votes of the total number of MPs.

69 MPs on January 11 voted in favor of adopting the Law on the Use of Languages. It was adopted by a double majority. The January 11 session was not attended by VMRO-DPMNE deputies, who are not partaking in any activity of Parliament as a sign of revolt over the arrest of five opposition MPs and some 30 people, who are suspected of being involved in the storming of Parliament on 27 April 2017.