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Appellate court takes up sentencing appeal in Divo Naselje case

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Skopje Court of Appeals agreed to consider whether the sentences for 33 people – all sentenced to jail over their role in a deadly 2015 terrorist act in the Kumanovo area, Divo Naselje – should be overturned.

On Thursday and Friday, the justices will hear appeals filed by defense lawyers objecting the lower court’s decision ordering that seven defendants’ sentence of life in prison, 13 defendants’ sentence of 40 years in prison, six defendants’ sentence of 20 years…in the so-called Divo Naselje crimes.

Defense wants the 2017 lower court’s sentencing be thrown out.

A deadly shooting spree that took place on 9-10 May 2015 left eight members of Macedonian special police units dead. As many as 37 police officers were injured in the two-day shootout in Kumanovo’s outskirts four years ago.

Ten of the militants were killed, whilst the rest were arrested and charged with terrorism-related charges by the Macedonian authorities. The bodies of the militants were found at the site. The autopsy found that nine of the terrorists were Kosovo Albanians and one Macedonian citizen.

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Macedonia

Hahn praises North Macedonia for solving all bilateral disputes

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European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn has praised North Macedonia for mending the fences with its neighbors. The country has done a great job when resolving the disputed issues with Greece and Bulgaria, thus becoming the only country in the region with no dispute with any of its neighbor.

Historical agreement on ending the name dispute with Greece and friendship accords with Bulgaria are pathbreaking signals to the entire region that resolutions of long-standing disputes are possible.

When asked to tell if North Macedonia can be given a date for start of EU accession negotiations if Albania fails to bridge the ongoing political impasse, Hahn expressed his confidence that the Commission will recommend opening of negotiating chapters with North Macedonia.

The EU enlargement chief said the assessment has always been based on results achieved by each individual country. The state of play of each candidate country is assessed in detail on the basis of concrete progress and achievement, Commissioner Hahn said in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

“It would not be fair if a country should wait for another. That’s the basis. Of course, it would be ideal when all countries in the region become part of the EU at a time, but that’s not real,” Commissioner Hahn told deutsche Welle.

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Macedonia

Latvia endorses North Macedonia’s NATO accession protocol

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Latvian parliament on Thursday approved a law on ratification of North Macedonia’s accession to NATO, the North Macedonia’s ruling SDSM party said in a press release, adding that Latvia is the 13th NATO member to have greenlighted the country’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The ruling Social Democrats (SDSM) said on Friday that Estonian Government has endorsed the protocol, paving the way for North Macedonia’s membership into the alliance. Estonian parliament is expected to ratify the protocol soon, making it 14th NATO member to endorse the document.

The Social Democrats say the process of ratification of the Accession Protocol is advancing at a good pace. Once the process is completed, North Macedonia will become become NATO’s 30th member state.

“The perennial dream to join the most powerful alliance in the world is becoming true. NATO membership provides security and stability, foreign investments, economic growth and development. We remain fully committed to fulfilling our strategic interests in terms of securing safe and bright future for all citizens,” SDSM said in a press release.

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Zaev at Iftar dinner: Ramadan teaches us to create equity within community

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Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Thursday night was a guest at Iftar dinner organized by the Economic Chamber of North-West Macedonia on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

After the dinner, PM Zaev addressed the attendees and thanked the organizers for inviting him to the event. He said he was pleased and honored.

“The most important and the holiest month in the spiritual life of the members of Islam once again reminds us to affirm the values of forgiveness and sympathy, tolerance and respect for others. Ramazan is a holiday that teaches us that we all have an obligation to help others, respond, and help undo injustice. It is our duty to help each other,” Zaev told the atttendees.

“Ramadam is a holiday that teaches us to create equity within the community, a pathway to equity.”

“I am very much pleased that tonight I am with friends, compatriots, with whom we share all the challenges of our common society. The partnership and the cooperation that we have established with the Economic Chamber of North-West Macedonia and with business community in this region is of high significance to the success of our economic policies, the citizens and the companies alike. It is a healthy and solid foundation to ensure that our country moves forward,” Zaev said.

Also attending the Iftar dinner were President Stevo Pendarovski, Chairman of the Economic Chamber of North-West Macedonia, Nebi Hoxha, Deputy Prime Ministers Koco Angjushev and Bujar Osmani, Ministers Kreshnik Bekteshi, Damjan Mancevski and Edmond Ademi.

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