Macedonia President Swears Oath of Office

resizer37At a parliament ceremony, Tuesday, Georgi Ivanov, took an oath to became Macedonia’s fourth democratically elected head of state in the country’s 18-year history.

The ceremony kicked-off at midday with the national anthem, followed by the taking of the oath and the President’s inaugural speech.

In that speech, Ivanov stated that his top priorities remain the country’s NATO and EU membership.

“I do not plan to turn a blind eye on the big obstacles standing on our path. By that I mean the unresolved problem with our southern neighbor [Greece] and the global economic crisis,” he said, and peldged to nurture good neighboring relations “especially with Greece”.

Ivanov was be welcomed by the outgoing President Branko Crvenkovski and the Army Guard in front of the parliament building.

Several presidents and high delegations from neighboring states attend the ceremony, including the Croatian, Serbian, Albanian and Montenegrin Presidents, Stipe Mesic, Boris Tadic, Bamir Topi and Filip Vujanovic respectively.

Ivanov won the March presidential election in the second round as candidate of the largest ruling party, the centre-right VMRO DPMNE. Ethnic Albanians that make up roughly one quarter of the population practically boycotted the second round as none of the front runners gained their sympathy.

Ivanov’s main challenges lie in the country’s foreign policy. He must lead the country in the tricky business of finding a compromise with Greece over the country’s constitutional name.

The inauguration faced an initial hurdle after the main Albanian parties hesitated over whether to attend the ceremony after finding out that Kosovo’s president will not be there. The ruling Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, and the opposition New Democracy, ND, announced their presence at the last moment.

But the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, did not attend.

After declaring independence from former Yugoslavia, Kiro Gligorov was elected as the first head of state. He served two terms in office from 1991 to 1999.

His successor Boris Trajkovski took over in late 1999. He died tragically while still in office on February 2004, when his plane crashed over Bosnia.

The third President of Macedonia was Branko Crvenkovski, whose term ends today. He is expected to return to his old post as head of the main opposition, the Social Democrats.

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