NATO Urges Macedonia to Form GovtSoutheast Europe | February 27, 2017, Monday // 08:01| views
File photo, EPA/BGNES
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has issued a statement suggesting Macedonia should go on with the formation of a new government.
His message, published on NATO's website, comes as a coalition is yet to be forged two months after an early election, with the second-biggest party SDSM saying it has enough signatures to ask the President for a government mandate.
"The December 2016 election was seen by international observers as an essential step in resolving that crisis," Stoltenberg writes in a reference to the political crisis that has been raging on for more than two years.
"It was judged to have been well-administered and to have proceeded without major incidents. Following one attempt to form a government, it has been announced that, in line with the requirement specified by the President, enough MPs' signatures have now been collected."
"I look to the authorities in Skopje to fulfil the next step in the democratic process. I call on all parties to exercise restraint in statements and actions, and take decisions for the benefit of all citizens," Stoltenberg notes.
The Alliance's head adds that NATO remains "committmed to the membership of [Macedonia]... in line with the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit."
Last week, an agreement was reached between the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the largest ethnic Albanian party after the vote.
SDSM leader Zoran Zaev now says he has gathered enough signatures (67 out of 120 lawmakers) to ask President Gjorge Ivanov for the mandate, after the latter had said he would only hand it out to a party which proves it can create a goverment.
However, Macedonian media outlets report that President Ivanov's administration is unaware of a meeting due on Monday.
Zaev earlier told Kurir, a Serbian-language newspaper, he would get the mandate to form a new government on Monday, weeks after the biggest party VMRO-DPMNE failed to secure a parliamentary majority.
VMRO-DPMNE's leader Nikola Gruevski meanwhile wrote on Facebook he would support a government led by Zaev, his main political opponent, only if the "Albanian platform" - which includes several demands of ethnic Albanian parties - was abandoned and Albanian language was not made a second official one alongside Macedonia.