North Macedonia's foreign minister denies MP was fired from his government for being Jewish

Nikola Dimitrov tells the JC Rasela Mizrahi was sacked for ‘acting unconstitutionally’


North Macedonia’s foreign minister has rejected claims that the decision to fire the Balkan state’s first Jewish minister was related to her “gender, ethnicity or religion.”

Rasela Mizrahi, who was Labour and Social Policy Minister in the caretaker government, was dismissed on Saturday after she appeared in front of signs bearing the country’s old name of Macedonia, having refused to change them.

Ms Mizrahi, of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, claimed that she had been the victim of vicious antisemitic abuse during her tenure and after her dismissal.

But Foreigh Minister Nikola Dimitrov told the JC she was fired for “acting in breach of the Constitution she was sworn to uphold while in office, as well as the Prespa Agreement with Greece.”

North Macedonia changed its name last year, ending a dispute with neighbouring Greece that had simmered since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Ms Mizrahi is a well-known opponent of the agreement.

Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski described Ms Mizrahi’s actions as “endangering” North Macedonia’s “Euro-Atlantic path”.

Ms Mizrahi, who was recommended for the position by her party, has previously referred to the agreement as an “injustice”.

She told parliament after her dismissal that “even before I walked into my office, as the first Jewish person in the history of Macedonia to be appointed to the Government, I was the target of reckless antisemitic attacks.”

“Instead of criticising my work, I was attacked for my religion and nationality and labelled with a yellow star,” Ms Mizrahi said.

But Mr Dimitrov insisted antisemitic remarks directed at Ms Mizrahi after her dismissal were “incidental and uncommon” and were “very unusual in Macedonian society.”

They were “condemned immediately by all major political parties,” he hastened to add.

North Macedonia was one of the first countries to adopt the IHRA working definition on antisemitism in March 2018, and on the 75th anniversary of the deportation of Macedonia’s Jews a resolution passed instructing government institutions to combat Holocaust denial and antisemitism.

North Macedonia is home to around 200 Jews, mostly centred in the capital Skopje.

A Holocaust museum was opened in 2011 to commemorate the deportation and murder of the vast majority of Macedonia’s pre-war population of around 11,000 Jews.

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