North Macedonia: the new president refuses to use the country's official name

Newly elected, the first female president of North Macedonia refused to pronounce the new name of the country used since an agreement concluded in 2018 with Greece

North Macedonia: the new president refuses to use the country's official name

Newly elected, the first female president of North Macedonia refused to pronounce the new name of the country used since an agreement concluded in 2018 with Greece. “I declare that I will exercise the office of President of Macedonia conscientiously and responsibly, respect the Constitution and laws and protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Macedonia,” said Sunday May 12 Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova in front of MPs and guests during her swearing-in.

In the official text, which she repeated, it is indeed the constitutional name of North Macedonia which is used. Skopje concluded a “historic” agreement with Greece in 2018, agreeing to add the geographic reference “North” to the country’s name, to end a long-standing feud with its neighbor, which blocked its membership of NATO and its accession negotiations with the European Union (EU). The country became a member of NATO in 2020. The right-wing nationalist formation VMRO-DPMNE, of which Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova was the candidate in the last presidential election, opposed this agreement with Greece.

Elected on May 8 for a five-year mandate, defeating the outgoing social-democrat head of state, Stevo Pendarovski, with 65% of the vote, Ms. Siljanovska-Davkova is the first woman to access this position since the proclamation of independence of this small Balkan country in 1991. This retired university professor, who celebrated her 71st birthday on Saturday, assured that she would be the president of "all citizens" and called for "unity" in the country.

Skopje reminded to respect its commitments

The assumption of office was welcomed from Brussels by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. “Congratulations, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, on becoming the first female president of North Macedonia. Your leadership comes at a crucial time, as your country advances its reforms and continues its path towards the EU,” von der Leyen wrote on the social network In a second message, the President of the European Commission considered it “essential” that North Macedonia “continues on the path of reforms and fully respects its commitments” with a view to joining the EU.

The VMRO-DPMNE also came well ahead in the legislative elections, which also took place on May 8, securing 58 of the 120 seats in Parliament by defeating the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), in power since 2017 The return to power of the right-wing opposition in this poor Balkan country of 1.8 million people risks reviving tensions with Greece, but also with Bulgaria, which sets its own conditions to advance negotiations. for North Macedonia to join the EU.