Will the Bulgarians withdraw their leg for other changes in the Constitution?
The announcement by the Minister of Justice Krenar Loga and the Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski that, apart from the Preamble, it is possible to amend the Constitution on other issues, is interpreted as an attempt by the government to ensure a wider consensus for opening the Constitution, i.e. to extend a hand to the opposition VMRO -DPMNE, whose votes depend on whether it is even possible to open the highest legal act in the country. However, according to government sources, the process of changing the Preamble to enroll Bulgarians is too complicated to be additionally burdened with other requirements.
Kovacevski, Loga, Deputy Prime Minister Bojan Maricic and Head of Diplomacy Bujar Osmani are the only ones that the negotiations with the European Union are the top priority for the opening of the Constitution, or rather the fulfillment of the obligation from the negotiation framework in the part of the constitutional amendments to include other parts of peoples living in Macedonia. However, Kovacevski does not rule out the possibility that during the public discussion at the opening of the Constitution there will be other proposals, which would be more for the improvement of the functioning of the institutions and, mainly, of a procedural nature.
"I saw the statement of the Minister of Justice. A priority in relation to the Constitution is fulfilling our obligation from the negotiation framework adopted by 27 EU member states, in the part of the constitutional amendments to include parts of other peoples living in the Republic of North Macedonia. It is a priority. A commission will be formed at a high professional level - professors, experts, practitioners will be involved... who will work on the constitutional amendments that will be put up for public discussion and, naturally, in that process, ideas will appear in relation to some other parts of The Constitution to make improvements, more of a procedural nature, for the functioning of some institutions. But the priority is the constitutional amendments in order to continue the European path of the state", Kovacevski said in response to the question whether the wording "20 percent" in the Constitution will be changed with "Albanian language", as announced by Loga.
Foreign Minister Osmani distanced himself by claiming that he had not heard the statement of the Minister of Justice and that he was not aware of his intention.
"Of course, there are other issues that are more of an administrative-technical nature than of a political and ethnic nature. My personal view is that we should now concentrate on the constitutional amendments related to the continuation of negotiations with the EU. They are completely technical, they have no political consequences, they do not pose any threat to the state, to the communities. That's why I think that the opening of the Constitution should not be burdened with other political issues that will probably polarize the society even more", said Osmani.
And the Vice Prime Minister for European Affairs, Maricic, in a statement to "Deutsche Welle" claims that so far there has been no discussion of any other intervention in the Constitution, except for the enrollment of Montenegrins, Bulgarians, Croats and other ethnic communities that have a request for it.
"The opening of new issues and other topics beyond the original goal of changing the Constitution was somewhat expected. It is not the first time that we hear proposals, requests or package-changes that would be proposed in case of opening the Constitution. A social debate can be opened for any topic that is important to the citizens, but the focus must be on the commitment we have taken in the French proposal and we should all be focused on that. If we want to succeed with the constitutional amendments, the process must be focused on those topics important for rapid integration in the EU. "All other issues will require a more elaborate discussion and it can be opened and take longer as a process, and some issues can be solved with future processes of constitutional changes," says Maricic.
In a press briefing, Minister Loga first announced that, apart from amending the Preamble for the entry of Bulgarians, it is possible to change the Constitution in a package to replace the wording "20 percent" with "Albanian language", in order to overcome the institutional vacuum between the resignation of one and the election of a new minister, in order to overcome the impossibility of an already dissolved Assembly to sit on important issues and to withdraw the ex-officio membership of the Minister of Justice in the Judicial Council.
A senior official from the SDSM told "Sloboden Pechat" that, however, he does not believe that the process will be burdened with new demands, even though it is a fact that during the public debate, additional demands for amending the Constitution are possible. According to him, this would further complicate the whole process, but it can also be read as an attempt to involve the opposition VMRO-DPMNE with its proposals and participate in the process.
The Prime Minister reiterated that the process of constitutional amendments will begin with the formation of a commission in which representatives of the opposition are invited.
"Finally, the opposition should participate in at least one strategic process in the country. Politicians should be decisive, make decisions that ensure a better future. I believe that with real decisions, and not as before by hiding the opposition, we will become a member of the EU by 2030. I am convinced that in VMRO-DPMNE there are politicians who have a European vision and the courage to support the European path of the state. "They will not repeat the mistake of holding the state hostage to not making important decisions, which is why we waited 11 years for entry into NATO, and 17 years we are waiting for negotiations with the EU," Kovacevski said.
The President of the Assembly, Talat Xhaferi, in a press briefing, says that the political decision will be whether only the Preamble will be changed or whether there will be a package of amendments to amend the Constitution and other issues. He adds that no matter what happens, it will not affect the parliamentary procedure for amending the Constitution, because the Parliament will consider them in a package - the debate on amendments is limited to three days per amendment, regardless of their number.
He emphasized that in order for the constitutional amendments to be passed in November, the procedure should start in June or July.
"That's all that will be agreed, it is possible to implement, if an agreement is reached. Neither the procedure, nor the timing, nor the time is an obstacle. It has been determined how long the debate can last in relation to the amendment, i.e. the text. And in that context, the timing doesn't change much. Between plenary sessions there must be 30 days, from the initiative to the draft 30 days. After the draft is determined, a public discussion follows for a minimum of 15 days, a maximum of 30 days. Some oriented calculation can be done easily. The public debate will be on all issues for 15 to 30 days," said Xhaferi.