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Ivanov wins Macedonia elections

Gjorgje Ivanov, on 5 April 2009
Gjorgje Ivanov said improving ties with Greece would be a priority

Conservative Gjorgje Ivanov has won a presidential run-off in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

With 80% of ballots counted, he had secured almost two-thirds of the vote over his Social Democrat rival Ljubomir Frckoski, who has conceded.

Turn-out was put at about 42%, just over the 40% threshold needed for the polls to be valid.

President Branko Crvenkovski was not seeking a second term. Some 1.8m people were eligible to vote in the election.

Voting passed peacefully, despite fears of violence which could have harmed the small, south-east European country's ambitions to join the European Union and Nato.

A parliamentary vote last year was marred by violence, with one person being shot dead and several others wounded in an ethnic Albanian area.

'First task'

The president serves a five-year term in a role that is largely ceremonial.

In a first round of voting, Mr Ivanov polled the most votes, but not enough for a victory.

Acknowledging his run-off win, he said improving ties with Greece would be a priority.

Last year, Greece said it would block Macedonia from joining Nato and the EU unless it compromised over its official name. Macedonia is also the name of a northern region of Greece.

In December 2008, Macedonia decided to take the issue of its name to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

"Our first task will be to resolve the name issue with our southern neighbour Greece," Mr Ivanov told Reuters news agency. "I am sure we can find common interest and compromise."



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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Macedonia
21 Jan 09 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Macedonia
21 Jan 09 |  Country profiles



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