Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has agreed with the main ethnic Albanian party to form a coalition government to aim at getting its NATO and European Union bids back on track, his party said on Saturday.
Gruevski's conservatives have 63 seats in the 120-seat parliament but sought a partner from the Albanian minority.
Their choice, the Democratic Union of Integration, was born out of a 2001 Albanian insurgency for greater rights.
The government's main priority will be to revive Skopje's bid for membership of NATO and to secure a date for accession talks with the EU. Both processes are now blocked by Greece due to an 18-year dispute over Macedonia's name.
"After reviewing all the possible options, we decided to broaden our parliamentary majority in alliance with the DUI," said VMRO-DPMNE spokesman Ilija Dimovski. "This decision is the best for Macedonia."
In his previous government in 2006, Gruevski sided with the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), outraging the larger DUI.
Western diplomats had said they preferred to see both Albanian parties join the government this time, after violence, fraud and intimidation in Albanian areas during a general election last month exposed deep divisions within the minority.
Dimovski said Gruevski had initially hoped to get the two rival Albanian parties to join him into a grand coalition.
"We proposed that both parties join the government," Dimovski said. "But both of them made it clear to us they were against that."
Last Mod: 06 Temmuz 2008, 12:34