North Macedonia’s parliament elects Hristijan Mickoski as PM

North Macedonia’s parliament elected right-leaning Hristijan Mickoski as the new prime minister on Sunday.

The vote tally in the 120-seat parliament was 77 lawmakers in favor and 22 against, with 21 absentees.

Following the results, Mickoski said it was time to “roll up the sleeves and start solving problems in the country.” He added that the immediate government priorities were to attract new investment, cut taxes and increase pensions and wages.

Replacing the previous Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) government, the nationalist-dominated government coalition includes the Albanian alliance VLEN and the liberal party ZNAM, an ethnic Macedonian splinter from the SDSM.

EU integration in focus

Mickoski, 46, is the leader of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party. In the May 8 election, his party gained 43% of the vote, winning 58 seats but falling three short of a governing majority.

Last month, Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, also a VMRO- DPMNE candidate, took oath as president.

The VMRO-DPMNE came to power after spending years in the opposition, amid  voter discontent over slow development, weak economy, widespread corruption and delays in the European Union integration

Mickoski asserted his government’s commitment to EU integration.

“We continue to stand together with our partners from the EU and together we will harmonize the common foreign policy with the EU,” he said.

He also said the country will continue to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion.

Mickoski refers to ‘Macedonia’

Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Mickoski repeatedly used the former name of the country — Macedonia.

In 2019, North Macedonia joined NATO after a historic deal with Greece to change its official name from Macedonia. Athens insisted upon the change of name as Macedonia is also a region in northern Greece.

President Davkova already irked Greek and EU officials by also referring to the country as Macedonia during her oath of office, later calling it her “human right.”

Experts say Mickoski’s nationalist stance and refusal to use the name “North Macedonia” may hinder EU accession efforts.

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ss/fb (Reuters, AP, dpa)