The scheduled date for early parliamentary elections, April 12, 2020, may be in
jeopardy because of the delay in passing a number of laws in Parliament, which the
government says are "vital" for citizens, and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said recently
that he will probably not resign unless these laws are passed.
"The elections have been agreed upon and they should be held on April 12th. I am
the first to want to abide by all the procedures, but if the opposition is allowed to find
ways in the Parliament in a conspicuous way, and has the right under the Rules of
Procedure, to block higher wages and pensions laws, for the realization of state
projects that are vital to citizens, these are quite serious reasons to even talk about
postponing the elections," said Zaev.
He added that he would not allow "the interest of the state to be called into question
because someone has a hidden agenda that can be even legitimate only if it is not to
the detriment of the state and the citizens". Zaev stressed that many of those laws,
which the opposition, according to him, must pass, must be adopted in December,
since they are tied to the budget so that their implementation can begin in January.
The opposition has accused a scenario of postponing elections because the
government is afraid of confronting the people.
And one of those "vital" laws that Zaev wants to push through and which SDSM used
to set the date for the elections are changes to the law on narcotic drugs, which was
abused even at the time of deciding the date for the start of EU accession
negotiations when it was marked with the so-called "European flag".
The amendments to the Law on Control of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances in 2016, as stated in the Draft-Law, set out the conditions for cultivation
of cannabis for medical purposes by legal entities that, after meeting the conditions
in the relevant area, equipment and staff, assessed by a Commission set up by the
Minister of Health, receive cannabis cultivation approval for medical purposes, upon
prior approval from the Government. The new Draft Law allows the export of dried
flower obtained from cannabis cultivation for medicinal purposes, so that legal
entities cannabis growers are allowed to place already produced quantities of dry
herbal product as a narcotic on the markets in Europe and beyond while respecting
international conventions and European law governing the matter.
So far, 29 companies have received approval in the country for cannabis cultivation
for medical purposes, with prior approval from the Government, of which the key
players on that list are relatives and close associates of Prime Minister Zaev.
The interest in investing in the country for growing cannabis for medical purposes is
due to the favorable business climate as well as the cheap labor market. Interest has
also increased because of the rapidly rising price on the world stock market of
cannabis oil and dried cannabis flower. Under this law, Macedonia will actually
become a legal marijuana dealer abroad, and much of it will come from the Zaev
family's plantations. That is why, and in order to avoid public debate, a "European
flag" has been used so that it could be passed by parliament within three days.
VMRO-DPMNE, for its part, warned that Zaev would face the wrath of the citizens if
he continued to push this solution in particular, and to abuse the elections.
The opposition wants an argued debate on all the laws, and says it supports a
minimum wage increase, which according to VMRO-DPMNE is just the mask behind
which Zaev hides his true interest. However, as opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski
recently pointed out, it should be based on real grounds, not just as a populist
instrument for extending Zaev's political career.
"For the second so-called reform law of the duo Angjusev and Zaev, and then related
to the legalization of the drug smuggling, i.e. the smuggling of marijuana from
Macedonia to the rest of the world, we will strongly oppose," Mickoski said recently.