Fri, Mar 16, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Macedonia facing renewed crisis over language law

AP, SKOPJE

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov late on Wednesday refused to sign legislation to make Albanian the country’s second official language — an action that could trigger a new political crisis in the small Balkan nation.

Amid protests inside parliament and outside the building, lawmakers approved the bill for the second time after Ivanov had refused to ratify it in January.

Under Macedonia’s constitution, the president cannot veto legislation approved in two separate votes.

However, Ivanov said in a video address distributed to media that he would not sign a decree that would allow the implementation of the law, because proper parliamentary procedure had not been followed.

“As president of the Republic of Macedonia I will not allow this. The constitution and my conscience do not permit me to sign a decree approving such a law,” he wrote in a statement. “After the violent way in which it was adopted, this law can’t be considered an expression of democracy.”

The bill was approved by 64 votes in the 120-seat parliament, but the session was repeatedly disrupted by the conservative opposition.

The law is a key part of a coalition deal between the ruling Social Democrats and their junior coalition partners — parties representing ethnic Albanians.

It is not clear how and if the law will take effect without Ivanov’s signature.

Macedonia has been plagued by successive political crises in the past three years.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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