Talat Xhaferi, the new Prime Minister of North Macedonia

Talat Xhaferi in the Parliament of North Macedonia, January 28, 2024
 Talat Xhaferi in the Parliament of North Macedonia, January 28, 2024
 The Parliament in Skopje has approved the interim government, to be led by Mr. Talat Xhaferi, the former Speaker of the Parliament. This marks the first time an Albanian assumes the role of Prime Minister in North Macedonia, sparking dissatisfaction among nationalist circles in the small Balkan nation. The primary task of the interim government is to prepare for the upcoming dual elections, both parliamentary and presidential, scheduled for May 8. Two members of the Macedonian opposition will hold ministerial positions in Mr. Xhaferi's cabinet.

The North Macedonian Parliament swiftly approved the Technical Government in less than two hours of debate. 65 lawmakers voted in favor, while 3 opposed. Albanian opposition deputies, constituting the European Change Movement, boycotted the session, while the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE abstained from voting, despite two of its ministers being part of the government cabinet, and three deputy ministers from its ranks.

Mr. Talat Xhaferi becomes the first Albanian Prime Minister in North Macedonia, although his technical government will only last for 100 days. His party, the Democratic Union for Integration, dubbed today a "historic day."

Mr. Xhaferi stated that he would uphold the highest legislative institution as trustworthy for citizens, with well-defined tasks as per the constitution concerning the other pillars of power in the country. He expressed commitment to the path of European integration, aiming for the country's accession to the EU by 2030.

"For me, it makes no difference if it's 1 or 100 days, a technical or transitional government. I understand this duty, trust, honor, and above all, an extremely important responsibility, just as I have approached every stage and challenge in my professional and personal life," emphasized Mr. Xhaferi.

Macedonian nationalist legislators expressed opposition to Mr. Xhaferi leading the technical government, whether because he was a member of the former National Liberation Army or deemed unsuitable for his nearly four-year tenure as the parliament speaker.

"One deserter resigned, and another deserter will sit in the prime minister's chair. Neither he who rose from the chair nor the one sitting in it have genuine feelings for Macedonia; therefore, just like Kovačevski, the worst prime minister so far, don't expect Talat Xhaferi to be better and work for a progressive and successful state," said Antonio Milloshoski of VMRO-DPMNE.

He continued to claim that BDI does not have the number of deputies or voters to elect the prime minister. In offensive language, he referred to SDSM as a servant to BDI and accused it of making the Macedonian people "servants in their own country."

In response to these attacks, the leader of BDI and legislator Ali Ahmeti said:

"Mr. Milloshoski, when you were born in 1976, I was a high school student, but a servant, denied, mocked, and scorned by those who ruled at that time. The language of my mother was denied to me. When was Kërçova mine and yours better, then when I was a servant or today when we both own the house together? Was our state, mine and yours, better then when it pursued me and my generation as an 'enemy,' 'terrorist,' 'separatist,' or today when we cooperate and co-govern our common home?" continued Mr. Ahmeti, addressing another legislator, Pavle Trajanov.

While the Macedonian opposition attacked the major ruling parties with allegations of high corruption, lawmakers from the parliamentary majority expressed support for Mr. Xhaferi, describing him as a professional and principled in his duties during his years as parliament speaker.

Elmi Haziri of the Alliance for Albanians said it is illogical not to vote for an Albanian as prime minister, especially for those claiming to lead a multi-ethnic state.

"However camouflaged and technical the reasoning may be, not voting will be due to the ethnic affiliation of the prime minister. This is by no means a good sign," said legislator Haziri.

Mr. Xhaferi's cabinet will have only two new ministers from VMRO, responsible for Interior Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs, as well as three 'supplementary' deputy ministers, as per the constitution.

Two ministers from VMRO refused to participate in the traditional joint photo immediately after the cabinet's approval, raising questions in the public about the functioning of the new government.

The interim technical government will lead the country to the presidential and parliamentary elections on May 8.
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