Straightening "crooked roads" with proposals for road documents

Passport, passport / Photo: EPA

Tomorrow, MPs in the Assembly will consider the VMRO-DPMNE proposal for amendments to the Law on Travel Documents, which provides for the extension of the term of passports with the old constitutional name Republic of Macedonia until the end of this year. MP Antonijo Milososki says that they expect SDSM and DUI MPs to support the proposed amendments to the Law and to extend the term of old unexpired passports, just as the term of validity of driver's licenses was extended.

– The text of this bill is short and requires that passports be valid until December 12, 31 instead of February 2024. We expect the deputies from the government to be reasonable and to meet the citizens in order to clear up this chaos that now reigns with the personal documents - MP Milososki said to "Sloboden Pechat".

SDSM will not support the proposal

According to the presented views of the SDSM and the DUI, this proposal will not pass, because the five-year deadline for replacing the documents with the new constitutional name - the Republic of North Macedonia - which ended on February 12, is part of the Prespa Agreement, and international agreements cannot are changed by another law.

- According to the information I receive, that law will not solve the problems and is contrary to Article 118 of the Constitution, in the sense that international agreements are part of the internal legal transaction and in fact cannot be changed by another law - the president said yesterday of the Assembly Jovan Mitreski.

He announced that he will supplement the agenda for today's 145th session with this bill.

And SDSM MP Martin Kostovski said today that "they will not support what contradicts the state and international agreements".

- It is an unprecedented political pamphlet. It is unprecedented volunteerism by VMRO-DPMNE and misleading the public, exactly as they have been behaving all these four years. With this proposed law, we have a conflict with the Prespa Agreement and non-compliance with Article 118 of the Constitution. If we want to find a solution, let's talk about how to make Panče Toškovski work better, how to better improve the services and actually overcome the problems - said Kostovski.

The MP group of VMRO-DPMNE has been calling almost daily for two weeks to extend the term of passports by amending the Law on Travel Documents. They submitted this Draft Law on February 12, the day when the validity of passports and driver's licenses expired, and only the amendments to the Law on Road Traffic Safety, which extended the validity of driver's licenses, were put on the agenda of the Parliament at that time. permits. The authorities then clarified that driver's licenses are a document for internal use and therefore extended their validity, but passports are a document for external use and, according to the Prespa Agreement, they cease to be valid after five years.

Bojan Maricic - Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration / Photo: "Sloboden Pechat" / Dragan Mitreski

First Deputy Prime Minister Bojan Maricic says that the validity of driver's licenses was extended to reduce pressure and give everyone time to change them, but the law on passports cannot be changed.

- In a race for cheap political points, the Minister of Internal Affairs and other representatives of the opposition create unnecessary confusion among citizens. Anyone traveling outside the country should have a new passport, and those living in other countries are advised to use travel documents to return home. It is more correct, because if they go by car, it is impossible to predict where someone can make a problem for the old passport - said Maricic.

He added that it should be seen from the point of view of the citizens, and not politically expedient to pass a new law on extending the validity of passports, because that does not solve the problem.

- It will introduce additional and greater legal uncertainty and may bring citizens into greater problems, additional costs and inconveniences at border crossings. At the moment we have no official notification from any member of the EU that it is possible to travel with the old passport. Montenegro announced that it will not allow travel with old documents. Other countries may refer to it on the spot. Why should we burden the citizens to face problems? Everything depends on the change of the border crossing - said Vice Prime Minister Maricic in a guest appearance on "Thelma".

Greece: You had enough time of five years

Maricic also said that Macedonia did not inform anyone that our travel documents are no longer valid after February 12, but simply that the terms of the Prespa Agreement came into force. Earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bujar Osmani explained that the country has no obligation to inform the countries of the world that the passports are not valid after February 12, but Greece did so with a note and each country will decide on this issue separately.

So far, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has not issued a list so that citizens know exactly which countries will not cause problems if they travel with passports with the old name, but the information comes one by one. The last such information is that Austria and Croatia have an understanding of the problem with travel documents, so Macedonian citizens can freely exercise their right to free movement in these two countries with their old passports with the name Republic of Macedonia, which are valid.

You cannot leave Macedonia without a new passport, but you can leave with a valid identity card with the old constitutional name and travel to Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia with this document.

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis said again that the country had enough time of five years to change the identity documents in accordance with the Prespa Agreement.

- Our relations with North Macedonia are at an extremely satisfactory level, bilateral relations have developed in the last five years much more compared to the previous 15 years and are in continuous dynamics, but we must be clear that adherence to the Prespa Agreement will have to be strict and complete, so that we can talk on the same level - Gerapetritis said in the Greek Parliament.

He reiterated that the Prespa Agreement is an international agreement, which cannot be changed by any of the parties, and pointed out that the Greek Government is closely monitoring its implementation.

- The adjustment of travel documents is related to the five-year technical transition period that the neighboring country had. He had the opportunity in the period of five years to make the necessary adjustments, both in relation to road documents and in relation to the registration plates of private vehicles. This has not been completed to date, not because of Greece's responsibility, but it has not been completed because there were bureaucratic, organizational or other problems on the part of the Republic of North Macedonia - Gerapetritis said.

After the expiration of the deadline - February 12, about 650.000 citizens were left without new passports due to poor organization in the Ministry of the Interior and due to the untimely provision of sufficient forms. Vice Prime Minister Maricic informed that about 1.350.000 passports have been issued so far, 300.000 forms have arrived this month, and another 300.000 in June, so a total of 1.900.000 passports with the new constitutional name are expected to be issued by September.
The Technical Minister of the Interior, Panče Toškovski, informed that the daily production of passports will increase to 3.300, and 75.000 passports will be printed per month.

LDP: Passports should be valid until the expiration date, but with the seal of North Macedonia

The deputies of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) also propose an amendment to the Law on travel documents, the party informed.

- The proposed additions are aimed at improving travel documents and defining clear rules for citizens, which will enable the smooth movement of citizens outside the borders and return by possessing a valid travel document, i.e. a travel document that contains the seal of the Republic of North Macedonia with which the state confirms the identity of the person and is valid until the expiration of the validity period of the travel document - clarifications from the LDP.

According to the LDP, this initiative is motivated by the need to consistently respect the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of movement.

- We believe that a travel document that is valid as a confirmation by which the state guarantees the identity of its owner can be valid with the seal of the Republic of North Macedonia until the expiration of its validity period, and then be appropriately replaced with a new form. We believe that this does not violate the Prespa Agreement - say the LDP.

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