Macedonia averts cabinet collapse until NATO summit
(dpa) - Macedonia sidestepped a cabinet collapse at a crucial time with a broad political deal to support embattled conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, local newspapers said Saturday.
Gruevski's government lost the majority in parliament this week when a junior partner, the Democratic Party of Albanians, pulled out of the coalition over Gruevski's reluctance to recognize the independence of neighbouring Kosovo.
A broad political agreement of ruling and opposition parties mediated by President Branko Crvenkovski late Friday means that Gruevski would carry on in the coming weeks.
"This cabinet will continue to function as a minority government with full capacity over the next two or three weeks," Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki said.
That is how long Macedonia has to settle a dispute with NATO-member Greece and boost the chances for an invitation to join NATO at the alliance summit in Bucharest on April 2-4.
Greece claims the rights to the name Macedonia, used by its north-eastern province since ancient times and has threatened to block Skopje's bid for membership of NATO and EU.
Greece says the name could imply claims on the northern Greek province of Macedonia. The country is officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said during a visit to Kosovo Friday that no decision on Macedonia's membership bid had been made yet.
The two countries would continue the talks under United Nations auspices next week in Vienna, after a meeting on Thursday in Brussels yielded no progress.
Macedonians, fearful that their country could be dismembered along ethnic lines, see NATO membership as a guarantee against changing borders.