New Macedonian prime minister to be led by unity and dedication –

Dimitar Kovacevski, the new leader of the ruling Socialists in North Macedonia, said on Tuesday that his party had confirmed him as the country’s prime minister after Zoran Zaev officially resigned as prime minister last week.

Kovacevski said on his Facebook page that the central committee of his ruling party, the SDSM, approved him as prime minister-designate on Monday evening. In this capacity, he met with an American ambassador to North Macedonia on Tuesday.

“As chairman of the SDSM and the new Prime Minister designate, I will be governed exclusively by the principles of unity, responsibility, dedication and efficiency,” Kovacevski said after the meeting.

The country’s future government faces challenges ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to an energy crisis caused by a lack of national electricity production and price hikes across Europe.

President Stevo Pendarovski will officially back Kovacevski as Prime Minister-designate on Wednesday, local media reported, citing his office.

Prime Minister Zaev officially resigned from parliament last week after resigning as head of the SDSM following his party’s defeat in the October municipal elections.

Under the constitution, Kovacevski is expected to form a new cabinet supporting 64 deputies in the 120-seat parliament within 20 days. Speaker of Parliament Talat Xhaferi said a vote for a new government would likely be scheduled for January 15 or 16, local media reported.

North Macedonia, which joined NATO last year, is striving to become part of the European Union. Its path of accession is currently linked to that of Albania. While there seems to be a consensus among EU member states, for North Macedonia a Bulgarian veto stands in their way.

Sofia refused to give the green light to the headquarters in Skopje during the first intergovernmental conference, officially inaugurating the accession process. Problems of language, culture and human rights violations against the Bulgarian minority in Macedonia have turned out to be sticking points.

While the recent change of government in Bulgaria may see the path to membership becoming more evident, some obstacles remain. Too soft an approach on Skopje would lose the new political points of the parties, while too hard an approach would risk the support of European and American allies.

Another potentially difficult issue for the new prime minister is the result of the 2021 census, which will be released in the new year. Bulgaria has made it clear that its minority living in North Macedonia must enjoy the same rights and be recognized by law. The results are also crucial for the country’s Albanian community, which has long claimed to be underserved and under-represented.

He will also have to regain the support of the voters following the crushing defeat in the local elections.

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