N Macedonia swears in PM amid tensions with EU neighbours

North Macedonia's new prime minister Hristijan Mickoski started his first day in office Monday following a late-night parliamentary vote, likely setting the country on a collision course with EU neighbours Greece and Bulgaria.

Mounting frustration over the lack of EU progress helped Mickoski's tough-talking nationalist party, the VMRO-DPMNE, crush the more emollient centre-left coalition government in May's national elections.

Following the win, new president Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova put the region on notice when she pointedly called the country Macedonia and not North Macedonia — provoking a strong reaction from Athens.

Mickoski and VMRO-DPMNE's party leaders have long refused to use the country's new name.

The Balkan nation added "North" to its title in 2019 to end a long-running dispute with Greece, following an historic agreement that paved the way for NATO membership and aimed to provide a path to EU membership.

North Macedonia's route to membership in the bloc, however, has been blocked by neighbouring Bulgaria, which is demanding Skopje change its constitution to acknowledge its Bulgarian minority.

During his inaugural address, Mickoski said he remained committed to "European integration" and used the country's official name while taking the oath of office.

"We continue to stand together with our partners from the EU," Mickoski told the parliament shortly before midnight Sunday.

The 46-year-old former engineering professor — who will be North Macedonia's 13th prime minister since its independence in 1991 — said he would not bow to Bulgaria's demands.

"While I am a prime minister, there will be no constitutional changes," said Mickoski.

Mickoski will kick off his mandate with a 24...

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