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    Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov

    Macedonian President Awards Mandate for Opposition Leader to Form Government

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    Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov granted a mandate for forming the government to Zoran Zaev, leader of the oppositional Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), media reported Wednesday.

    BELGRAD (Sputnik) — Zaev, in turn, guaranteed to protect the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Macedonia.

    "The obstacles for awarding the mandate for a new Macedonian government have been removed," Ivanov said during the ceremony in his office, as quoted by the Balkan Insight news outlet.

    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner in charge of European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn welcomed on Wednesday the decision of the Macedonian president to give opposition leader Zaev a mandate to form the new government, a joint statement said.

    "We welcome the decision of President Ivanov to give the mandate to form a government to Mr. Zaev as an important step in the process of government formation. We hope that this constructive spirit will continue to prevail so that the country can finally come out of the political crisis. We expect now a swift formation of the government committed to implementing all parts of the Przino agreement and the Urgent Reform Priorities," the statement read.

    On May 2, the new speaker of Macedonia’s parliament, Talat Xhaferi demanded that Ivanov put forward a mandate to form a government within 10 days, warning that a refusal to do so would be considered a crime by the parliament. Zaev said on May 4, that the opposition will be able to form the new government by the end of May.

    The political crisis in Macedonia resulted in the authorities' inability to form the government since the snap general election in December 2016 though Zaev had formed a parliamentary majority with the support of the ethnic Albanian parties.

    Despite pressure from the local and international community, Ivanov has been withholding the mandate for a new government from Zaev since early March citing the concerns that Zaev would endanger Macedonia's sovereignty due to his acceptance of various demands set by the Albanian parties, including the greater language and economic rights for the Albanian community in Macedonia.

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    Gjorge Ivanov, Zoran Zaev, Macedonia
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