SKOPJE, North Macedonia

North Macedonia says fighter jets from neighboring Greece have carried out NATO-linked test overflights of its territory as part of the country’s process of joining the alliance.

The defense ministry said Tuesday’s two flights tested radar and communications coverage of North Macedonia.

North Macedonia has no fixed-wing military aircraft, and NATO has a program to protect the airspace of members that do not have sufficient means of their own.

North Macedonia is set to become NATO’s 30th member by the end of this year, after NATO member Greece dropped its long-standing objections. The breakthrough followed a deal to normalize relations between Athens and Skopje that saw Macedonia renamed North Macedonia

The deal also cleared the way for the small former Yugoslav republic to pursue accession to the European Union.

Source: Fox News World

Stevo Pendarovski has been sworn in as the new president of North Macedonia, promising he will serve all citizens in a deeply divided society and will lobby European Union leaders to approve the start of his country’s accession talks in June.

The 56-year-old was sworn in before lawmakers Sunday. He won the election May 5 in a tightly contested runoff with a conservative rival.

The presidents of Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Kosovo attended the inauguration ceremony.

Pendarovski is a strong supporter of the deal with Greece, finalized in February, that ended a decades-long dispute over the name Macedonia, in exchange for the prospect of NATO and European Union membership.

Former president Gjorge Ivanov, who ended his second and last five-year term Sunday, was a fierce opponent of the name deal.

Source: Fox News World

North Macedonia’s top prosecutor is accusing Interpol of allegedly refusing to issue an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who has fled to Hungary to avoid serving a jail sentence.

Prosecutor Vilma Ruskovska claimed Wednesday that the international police body has provided no explanation for its alleged decision.

Gruevski, who governed the country from 2006-2016, absconded to Hungary last year after receiving a 2-year jail sentence over the unlawful purchase of a luxury car. Hungary has granted him asylum and North Macedonia is seeking his extradition.

The Interpol warrant that North Macedonia wanted issued was on additional charges of allegedly being one of the organizers of a violent parliament invasion in 2017. These charges, if proved, carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Source: Fox News World

The Latest on the runoff presidential election in North Macedonia (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Election officials in North Macedonia say voter turnout in the runoff presidential election is close to the threshold needed for results to be valid.

North Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission said that as of 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT), turnout stood at 38.2 percent. The election for the largely ceremonial post needs 40 percent to stand.

If too few ballots are cast Sunday, the two-round contest would have to be repeated and the parliament speaker would serve as interim president.

The two candidates, both law professors, are Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling Social Democratic Union, and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, who was backed by the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party.

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8:15 a.m.

Polls have opened in North Macedonia for a presidential election runoff between two top vote-getters from the first round.

More than 3,400 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The two candidates, Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling Social Democrats, and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, backed by the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, finished in a near dead heat, with about 42% of the votes each, in the first round on April 21.

A key question is whether turnout will reach the 40% needed for the election to be valid. The first round barely made it past, with a turnout of 41.8%.

If declared invalid, the two-round contest for the largely ceremonial post will be repeated.

Source: Fox News World

Polls have opened in North Macedonia for a presidential election runoff between two top vote-getters from the first round.

More than 3,400 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The two candidates, Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling Social Democrats, and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, backed by the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, finished in a near dead heat, with about 42% of the votes each, in the first round on April 21.

A key question is whether turnout will reach the 40% needed for the election to be valid. The first round barely made it past, with a turnout of 41.8%.

If declared invalid, the two-round contest for the largely ceremonial post will be repeated.

Source: Fox News World

North Macedonia is heading for a presidential election runoff with both candidates more or less tied and the outcome potentially determined by an ethnic Albanian candidate eliminated in Sunday’s first vote.

The governing center-left party’s candidate, Stevo Pendarovski, and conservative Gordana Siljanovsa will face off on May 5. According to the latest results released Monday, Pendarovski got 42.85% of the vote and Siljanovska 42.24%.

Ethnic Albanian Blerim Reka came third with 10.57%. He has not said whether he will back either candidate in the May 5 election. About one in four Macedonians is ethnic Albanian.

Turnout is also crucial because if it falls below 40% of registered voters the presidential election is considered invalid and must be held again from the beginning in two rounds. Sunday’s turnout was 41.8%.

Source: Fox News World

Police say officers patrolling a main highway in North Macedonia found 58 migrants packed into a van and detained three men on suspicion of smuggling migrants.

Police said in a statement issued Sunday that the officers stopped the van on Saturday afternoon and arrested two Macedonian citizens and a third man from Kosovo.

The statement says 56 of the people packed inside the van were from Pakistan and two were from Syria.

Police say they were taken to a shelter in the southern town of Gevgelija, near the border with Greece and will be deported.

They allege the migrants entered North Macedonia illegally from Greece and were to be transported north to Serbia’s border and then on to other European countries.

Source: Fox News World

The Latest on the presidential election in North Macedonia (all times local):

9:55 p.m.

Returns from North Macedonia’s presidential election are giving an indication of which of the three candidates will compete in a runoff early next month.

The May 5 runoff is inevitable because the small European country’s election law requires a candidate to get 50% plus one of registered voters, not just voters who cast ballots for president, to be elected in the first round. The state electoral commission reported the turnout Sunday was 39.26%.

With about half of polling stations reporting, Stevo Pendarovski and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova were in a close contest for the most support. Pendarovski, the joint candidate of the ruling Social Democrats and 30 other parties, held a slight lead, with 42.4% of the partial vote to Siljanovska’s 41.1%.

The main conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party backed Siljanovska, the first woman to run for president in the country. .

Blerim Reka, a candidate supported by two small ethnic Albanian political parties, had 12.3% of the early returns.

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8:15 a.m.

Polls opened early Sunday in North Macedonia for a presidential election seen as a key test for the government following the country’s changing its name to end a decades-old dispute with neighboring Greece over the use of the term “Macedonia”.

More than 3,400 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and will close at 7 p.m. (1700GMT).

Three university professors are vying for the largely ceremonial presidency post.

Gordana Siljanovska Davkova is backed by the main conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, Stevo Pendarovski is a joint candidate of the ruling Social Democrats and 30 smaller parties, while Blerim Reka is supported by two small ethnic Albanian parties.

A candidate needs 50% plus one vote of the 1.8 million registered voters to win outright in the first round.

Source: Fox News World

Polls opened early Sunday in North Macedonia for a presidential election seen as a key test for the government following the country’s changing its name to end a decades-old dispute with neighboring Greece over the use of the term “Macedonia”.

More than 3,400 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and will close at 7 p.m. (1700GMT).

Three university professors are vying for the largely ceremonial presidency post.

Gordana Siljanovska Davkova is backed by the main conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, Stevo Pendarovski is a joint candidate of the ruling Social Democrats and 30 smaller parties, while Blerim Reka is supported by two small ethnic Albanian parties.

A candidate needs 50% plus one vote of the 1.8 million registered voters to win outright in the first round.

Source: Fox News World

North Macedonia’s authorities say a man is in the hospital after being shot by a sentry while apparently trying to enter the country’s main military base in the capital, Skopje.

A defense ministry statement says the man was shot in the leg before dawn Thursday after ignoring the sentry’s challenge and warnings to keep away from the wire perimeter fence of the Goce Delcev barracks.

It said the sentry fired two warning shots in the air before turning his gun on the approaching man, whose motives were unclear and who was apparently unarmed. He was hospitalized under police guard.

An army spokesman, Lt-Col Toni Janevski, told The Associated Press that police and judicial officials are investigating the incident.

Source: Fox News World


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