SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s parliament on Friday approved a new caretaker government under the country’s former interior minister, after Zoran Zaev resigned as prime minister ahead of previously agreed early elections on April 12.
Under a deal made by major political parties, the caretaker government will be headed by Oliver Spasovski, who served in Zaev’s center-left administration.
Zaev had announced the early election noting his “disappointment and outrage” at the European Union’s failure to start membership talks with North Macedonia and fellow Balkan nation Albania last year.
North Macedonia had previously agreed — under intense pressure from the EU — to sign a historic deal that normalized relations with neighboring Greece, and had believed that membership talks would go ahead.
But France, supported by Denmark and the Netherlands, strongly opposed membership talks, calling for an overhaul of the EU’s procedures for admitting new members.
Zaev’s Social Democrat-led government took office in 2017.
Zaev had staked his political future on the 2018 agreement with Greece that changed the country’s name from Macedonia, settling a decades-long dispute.
Greece considered that the name “Macedonia” was an attempt to steal its own Macedonian heritage and might imply territorial designs on its northern province of Macedonia. Included in the accord was a statement that the current state of Macedonia and the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia are unrelated.
The agreement was ratified despite heavy criticism by opposition parties and hardline nationalists in both countries.
While the agreement paved the way for Macedonia’s entry into NATO, the EU route is being blocked for now.