Is Zaev concealing the amendments to the Constitution?

VMRO-DPMNE accuses Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of accepting amendments to the Preamble and articles 3 and 49 of the Constitution, while concealing the content of the amendments just 10 days prior the referendum. The facts regarding the constitutional amendments are correct and are exhaustively laid down in the Agreement made public right after being signed. However, the accusations about the timing and the demands for publishing came too early, hence, at this moment, we can assess this statement as false

VMRO-DPMNE accuses Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of accepting amendments to the Preamble and articles 3 and 49 of the Constitution, while concealing the content of the amendments just 10 days prior the referendum. The facts regarding the constitutional amendments are correct and are exhaustively laid down in the Agreement made public right after being signed. However, the accusations about the timing and the demands for publishing came too early, hence, at this moment, we can assess this statement as false.

With the capitulating agreement, Zaev accepted amendments to the Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, article 3 and article 49. Zaev is running away from answers and he is not telling what he is going to alter in the Preamble. Zaev is running away from answers and he is not telling what he is going to alter in article 3 of the Constitution, which reads: The territory of the Republic of Macedonia is indivisible and inalienable. According to the agreement signed by SDSM’s government, what should be altered in the article 3 which guarantees the inalienability and indivisibility of the Republic of Macedonia? Zaev is supposed to answer what he is going to alter in the article 49, which bounds the state to take care of our minority abroad. And whether that means giving up on the Macedonians outside Macedonia.

[Source: ВМРО-ДПМНЕ: Заев прифатил менување на уставниот член за територијална неделивост и неотуѓивост, date: 16. September, 2018]

 

EXPLANATION

In this specific case, we have to verify a press release of the political party VMRO-DPMNE on the content of the amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. The content of the press release is further used in statements of high party officials in the daily activities. The statement made by VMRO-DPMNE’s vice president, Aleksandar Nikolovski, which is in line with the party’s press release, both made after Zaev’s statement on this topic, are partially true only when it comes to the facts about the amendments to certain parts of the Constitution, as laid down in the Agreement between Macedonia and Greece, which also specifies the timeline for amending the Constitution.

Indisputably, Republic of Macedonia’s new name stipulated by the Agreement is Republic of North Macedonia.

Article 1, a) The official name of the Second Party shall be the “Republic of North Macedonia”, which shall be the constitutional name of the Second Party and shall be used erga omnes, as provided for in this Agreement. The short name of the Second Party shall be “North Macedonia”.

Further on, the same Agreement anticipates that the change of the name Republic of Macedonia into Republic of North Macedonia be done with one amendment, according to which Republic of Macedonia shall be changed into Republic of North Macedonia everywhere.

  1. g) The Second Party shall adopt “Republic of North Macedonia” as its official name and the terminologies referred to in Article 1 (3) through its internal procedure that is both binding and irrevocable, entailing the amendment of the Constitution as agreed in this Agreement.

It’s a fact that item 4 (a to f) of the Agreement provides the procedure for amending the Constitution with a deadline by the end of 2018.

  1. Upon signing this Agreement, the Parties shall take the following steps:

a) The Second Party shall, without delay, submit the Agreement to its Parliament for ratification.

b) Following ratification of this Agreement by the Parliament of the Second Party, the Second Party shall notify the First Party that its Parliament has ratified the Agreement.

c) The Second Party, if it decides so, will hold a referendum.

d) The Second Party shall commence the process of constitutional amendments as provided for in this Agreement.

e) The Second Party shall conclude in toto the constitutional amendments by the end of 2018

f) Upon notification by the Second Party of the completion of the abovementioned constitutional amendments and of all its internal legal procedures for the entry into force of this Agreement, the First Party shall promptly ratify this Agreement.

However, the complete (un)truthfulness of the accusations is contained in item 11 of the agreement, which projects the amendments to the Constitution be rapidly adopted right after the Agreement has been ratified by the Parliament or after the referendum if the “second party” decides to conduct a referendum. Since in this specific case a referendum is going to be held, the Government has legal justification why it will explain the content of the amendments after the referendum has taken place. Therefore, Prime Minister Zaev’s statement on the amendments to the Constitution corresponds completely with the content of the Agreement:

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev stated that the constitutional amendments that have to be made are very logical and will be published by the parliamentary committees working on them after the referendum has ended and the results have been published. There will be amendments to the preamble, articles 3 and 49. As regards the preamble, ASNOM’s decisions on freedom, democracy, equality among citizens will be strengthened, because the fight for liberation of all citizens from the then fascist occupier originates from ASNOM. Regarding article 49, section on the diaspora, we shall apply what’s European. You know that Macedonia’s diaspora consists of Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Vlachs (…) and it might cause irredentism in the future, that is, certain provocations, but we are definitely going to readapt it as other EU member states have, as well as in regard to the manner the state takes care of its diaspora”, Zaev said during his visit to Lipkovo on 15 September 2018. Republic of Macedonia shall be changed to Republic of North Macedonia everywhere, while everything that’s Macedonian remains Macedonian and wherever it says Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Roma remains the same – Zaev said.

[Source: Заев: Уставните измени ќе бидат познати по референдумот, date: 15 September 2018]

Still, VMRO-DPMNE’s high functionaries, such as party’s vice president, Aleksandar Nikolovski, claim the same, even after this statement, by saying that Zaev is concealing the constitutional amendments and demand to be published prior the referendum has taken place.

The citizens, the ethnic Macedonians above all, do not accept, they are against the renaming and the altering of the Constitution as well as the altering of the Macedonians’ national identity. At the same time, the question is why the Government doesn’t publish the constitutional amendments just 10 days before the referendum, because the key part of the Agreement is the amendment to the Constitution, amendment to the Preamble, articles 3 and 49 as well as changing the name Republic of Macedonia into Republic of North Macedonia everywhere. We urge the Government to publish them, so the citizens can see them and the major fear the government is hiding from them – Aleksandar Nikolovski, vice president of VMRO-DPMNE.

[Source: Николоски: Ја повикуваме Владата да ги објави уставните амандмани – изјава на Александар Николовски, date: 18 September 2018]

Item 12 of the Agreement governs the sections of the Constitution that have to be amended: the Preamble and articles 3 and 49. The issue on the amendments’ content in this phase is just an issue on Government’s transparency and accountability before the referendum has taken place, while de jure, the Agreement doesn’t forbid the amendment’s outlines and what will be altered to be made known, if the complete text of the planned amendments, mostly contained in Prime Minister Zaev’s statement, quoted above, is not available.

  1. Procedures for the prompt amendment of the Constitution of the Second Party, in order to fully implement the provisions of this Agreement, shall commence upon ratification of this Agreement by its Parliament or following a referendum, if the Second Party decides to hold one.

  1. The name and terminologies as referred to in Article 1 of this Agreement shall be incorporated in the Constitution of the Second Party. This change shall take place en bloc with one amendment. Pursuant to this amendment, the name and terminologies will change accordingly in all articles of the Constitution. Furthermore, the Second Party shall proceed to the appropriate amendments of its Preamble, Article 3 and Article 49, during the procedure of the revision of the Constitution.

[Source: Влада на РМ, веб сајт, конечна верзија на Спогодбата Македонија-Грција, accessed on: 19 September 2018]

Hence, the claim in VMRO-DPMNE’s press release regarding the part asserting that the amendments are kept concealed prior the referendum is false. As we have explained, the Agreement between Macedonia and Greece projects publishing of the amendments after the referendum has taken place, if the second party decides to conduct a referendum, which is the case notwithstanding.

 

SOURCES:

 

Assessed by: Sashe Dimovski


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.