Russia thwarted: pro-western Zoran Zaev retains power in Macedonia

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.

Zoran Zaev

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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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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