Macedonian President Ivanov Rejects Rama’s “Foreign Platform” PM Edi Rama and the leader of the Albanian minority parties in Macedonia. Jan. 7, 2017. Source: Facebook.

Edi Rama’s “Tirana Agreement” from January 7, a direct intervention into the national politics of Macedonia, now threatens to throw Macedonia into a constitutional crisis and ethnic unrest. After the Macedonian general elections on December 11, Rama had invited the Albanian minority parties to Tirana to unify their position on minority rights. The agreement included the demand to make Albanian a national language enshrined in the constitution.

The Albanian minority parties hold a key position for the formation of a new government.

Yesterday, however, Macedonian President Gjorgje Ivanov refused to give a mandate to SDSM leader Zoran Zaev to form a new government, even though the latter has gathered the signatures of 67 of the 120 members of Macedonian parliament.

Zaev had arrived at a majority through a coalition with three Albanian minority parties, including Ali Ahmeti’s BDI, which holds 10 seats in parliament. Part of the agreement with the Albanian coalition partners would be the adoption of a law elevating Albanian to a national language throughout the Macedonian territory, an integral part of the Tirana Agreement.

Previous negotiations between Ahmeti and former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DMPNE) had failed to produce a coalition.

In his rejection of Zaev’s coalition, President Ivanov stated that “the constitutions and my conscience forbid me from extending a mandate to anyone who destroys the sovereignty and integrity of Macedonia,” and added that Zaev must first publicly reject a “platform coming from a foreign country.” Ivanov further declared that the agreement between the SDSM and the Albanian parties violated the constitution and the 2001 Ohrid Peace Agreement.

Zaev responded immediately, calling Ivanov’s decision “a coup,” and warning that “he has pushed Macedonia into a constitutional and national crisis by denying the will of the majority of the citizens and by preventing a legal and legitimate transfer of power.”

So it now appears that Rama’s intervention into Macedonian politics, just like his skewed friendship with Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, his controversial comments about then US presidential candidate Trump, and deterioration of diplomatic relations with Greece, which even made it into the Progress Report, has once again backfired.

By openly inviting the Albanian minority parties and hosting their meeting, he has given Macedonian nationalists, including Ivanov and Gruevski, an excuse to torpedo any agreement that includes Albanian minority rights as a danger to the sovereignty of the country.