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Four protesters detained outside parliament building

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Macedonian police have arrested several people protesting against constitutional changes outside parliament building in Skopje. They had allegedly tried to jump the fence and storm into the building, prompting a ramp-up of security at the parameter.

According to unofficial reports, four protesters who tried to breach the outer perimeter fence surrounding the parliament were arrested Wednesday night shortly after the adjournment of parliament sitting.

Speaking to the crowds, Dragan Ugrinovski, one of organizers of protests demanding an immediate halt to amendment process for name change, described the rally as successful day for not allowing the MPs vote on constitutional change.

“This is success day for Macedonia, we did not let them vote and endorse what they intended to. And because they failed to deliver their plan, they wanted to provoke us with the riot police,” Ugrinovski said.

Makedonija blokira, the group standing behind Wednesday’s protest, said they will rally again on Thursday at 12:00, an hour before the follow-up sitting of parliament.

On Wednesday, VMRO-DPMNE’s MPs walked out of parliament session on constitutional changes and joined the protest rally in front of parliament. The party leader, Hristijan Mickovski, also joined the protesters bud declined to deliver a speech.

The parliament is set to resume the constitutional amendment debate today at 13:00.

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Macedonia

Nimetz looks forward to completion of process as outlined in Prespa Agreement

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Matthew Nimetz, the UN envoy who brokered Macedonia-Greece deal on the name dispute, has asked Athens to ratify the deal as Skopje has completed its internal legal procedures.

“On 16 January 2019 the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia formally delivered to the Government of the Hellenic Republic a Note Verbale with reference to the Prespa Agreement of 17 June 2018, and related amendments to its Constitution, which states that it “has completed the necessary internal legal procedures for the entry into force of the Agreement, in accordance with its Constitution”. A copy of the Note Verbale was also delivered to me as the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General and signatory-witness to the Prespa Agreement,” Nimtz says in the statement.

“Upon the notification by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia of the completion of the related constitutional amendments and its internal legal procedures for the entry into force of the Agreement, consideration and subsequently proceeding with the ratification of the Agreement by the Hellenic Republic, through its national processes, would be in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Prespa Agreement.”

“I look forward to completion of the process as outlined in the Agreement. As in the past, the United Nations remains committed to working with the two parties in finally resolving the difference between them,” reads the statement of Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, on the next steps towards the implementation of the Prespa Agreement.

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Macedonia

Gruevski drops defamation lawsuit against Zaev

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Macedonia’s fugitive ex-prime minister Nikola Gruevski has dropped slander lawsuit targeting incumbent Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

The case the then-prime minister Nikola Gruevski filed against the then-opposition leader, now incumbent prime minister Zoran Zaev, accusing him of slandering in connection with sellout of a local bank, has been dropped.

Defendant Zoran Zaev will be dismissed from lawsuit on slander claims, sources in Skopje court confirmed to Makfax.

Skopje 2 District Court told Makfax that the plaintiff had notified the court that he has dropped slander, libel claims that he had filed against Zoran Zaev in 2015.

The suit, relating to the sellout of Makedonska Banka, alleged conspiracy, libel, and sought 50.000 euros in punitive damages.

In 2015, the then-opposition leader Zaev blamed the then-PM Gruevski of taking 1.5 million euros in kickbacks. Zaev also blamed Gruevski of tax evasion, saying he had inflicted EUR225.000 damage to the national budget. Gruevski himself sold out ‘Makedonska Banka’ to a controversial Serbian businessman Jovica Stefanovic alias Nini. “Gruevski is the father of crime in Macedonia,” Zaev said in 2015.

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Macedonia’s delegation takes part in PACE Winter Session

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Macedonian parliament delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Betijan Kitev, the head of the delegation, will take part in the first part of the five-day Winter Session of the PACE in Strasbourg, France, 21-25 January.

On the occasion of the Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the President of Finland will deliver a speech. In addition, the Finnish Foreign Minister will present the Communication from the Committee of Ministers and the Organisation’s Secretary General will address the Assembly.

The Assembly will hold a joint debate on public service media in the context of disinformation and propaganda and media freedom as a condition for democratic elections. It will also discuss Internet governance and human rights.

During its session, PACE is due to update guidelines for fair referendums and will examine the compatibility of Sharia law with the European Convention on Human Rights. It is also invited to assess if withdrawing nationality as a measure to combat terrorism is a human rights-compatible approach and it will discuss the promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities

Other debates will focus on fighting impunity by targeted sanctions in the case of Sergei Magnitsky and others, ensuring better follow-up to recommendations by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and the progress of PACE’s monitoring procedure in 2018, together with periodic reviews of the honouring of obligations by Iceland and Italy.
A second joint debate will focus on discrimination in access to employment and the need for a disability-inclusive workforce.

Two urgent debates have been requested, one on “Open Russian aggression against Ukraine: disruption of the peace process and a threat to European security” and a second one on “the worsening situation of opposition politicians in Turkey: what to do to protect their fundamental rights in a Council of Europe member State?”.

At a short ceremony in the plenary on 21 January, PACE members will pledge to take action in their national parliaments to eradicate sexism, harassment and violence against women, following the initiative by the Assembly’s President #NotInMyParliament.

The Assembly will decide its final agenda on the opening day of the session.

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