North Macedonian Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, said on Sunday his country would hold an early vote on April 12 next year, after the European Union had failed to set a date for the opening of accession negotiations with Skopje, the Beta news agency reported.
The decision was made in a meeting of the leaders of all ruling and opposition parties with the country’s President Stevo Pendarovski.
The media speculated that Zaev would resign, but he said though the EU decision left him bitter, he did not have the right to give up and added it was up to the people whether they would give him another term to continue leading the country as he had done so far.
The agreement among the parties and Pendarovski says a technical government will be formed on January 3, when Zaev will officially resign.
“We are united in our goal, which is to continue with the Euro-Atlantic integrations, and we don’t accept any alternative. We are staying on the road of democracy and rule of law,” Zaev said.
The first task Skopje is facing is full membership in NATO, expected by December this year.
According to Zaev, the parties’ leaders said they did not have anything against the changes in the accession procedure that France, helped by Denmark and the Netherlands, had insisted on when voting against any specific date for the opening of negotiations with both Skopje and Tirana.
Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of the largest opposition party, the nationalist VMRO – DPMNE, supported the early elections since “Zaev’s government had suffered a debacle.”
Mickoski and his party strongly opposed the name deal with Greece which opened the door to North Macedonia's international integrations after 27 years of the Greek blockade due to the country's old name, Macedonia.