Zaev: Leaders’ meeting possible, even early election if it guarantees a successful referendum

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev expects the process over the referendum date, question and its character to be completed by the weekend.

“We expect to define these issues with political leaders, representatives of parliamentary political parties by the end of the week. We should define them because time is getting tighter up to September 23 or October 7, which are seen as projected dates. I expect the referendum date, question and its character to be defined this week,” PM Zaev told reporters at Monday’s event launching the construction of a plant of US company DURA Automotive Systems.

The PM believes that the request of opposition VMRO-DPMNE for early elections prior to the NATO and EU accession deserves attention, if it guarantees a successful referendum.

“When? A year from now? It is worth the attention. I was in opposition a year ago and know it is worth sitting down and discussing, of course if it guarantees a successful referendum process. If we manage to reach the required turnout and motivate citizens to come out and have a say on this historic issue, all options are open,” said Zaev.

He said a leaders’ meeting might take place if working groups of parliamentary parties did not reach an agreement by the end of the week.

“I expect the working groups to solve things, otherwise a leaders’ meeting could be held. We should complete these procedures by the week-end, because citizens are waiting for answers,” added Zaev.

Regarding claims that Russian businessmen stoked protests in Macedonia, he said they came from reports that included conversations between the police and protesters.

“I talked about this after seeing the reports we are receiving. You know, those young boys ‘Komiti’ were summoned by the police after attacking the police officers. During their testimonies, they mentioned Russian businessmen giving out money and that is why they took part in the protests,” noted Zaev.

According to him, Macedonia is a small country that wants to build friendly relations with everyone, including the Russian Federation.

“Once again we say there is no alternative for Macedonia to EU and NATO membership. Therefore, we will never allow for violation of international agreements, declarations, resolutions that Macedonia has signed in this regard, because the country’s dignity is at stake. We show respect across the globe and would like to receive it here in Macedonia,” underlined PM Zaev.