Posted on Aug 31, 2020
Zoran Zaev, the pro-Western leader who changed the name of North Macedonia last year to secure its membership in NATO and the European Union, returned to power late on Sunday, seven months after resigning over the slow pace of EU membership talks, Reuters reports.
Zaev, who won a narrow election victory over nationalist rivals in July, was approved as prime minister with 62 votes in the 120-seat parliament.
The country joined NATO in March after adding the word “North” to its name, under an agreement with Greece, which has a province called Macedonia, and which had blocked its neighbour’s membership in Western organisations for decades.
Having joined NATO, we will show that we can join the EU. It is a national, decades-long strategic interest.
After narrowly defeating the nationalists in the July 15th vote, Zaev’s Social Democrat bloc gained the support of parties representing Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian minority to form new a governing coalition.
In this weekend's elections the Social Democrats faced and thwarted a strong challenge from the pro-Serb and pro-Russian “For the future of Montenegro" alliance.
The alliance wants closer ties with Belgrade and Moscow and has backed protests against a contested law on church property rights that inflamed the country's debate for months.
Parliament dissolved in February when Zaev resigned after the EU declined to set a date for membership negotiations. A month later the EU announced talks could begin. It has set no date, but diplomats said it would likely be later this year.
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