Zaev vowed to leave office after his Social Democrats lost local elections in October to the nationalist opposition. He then delayed his resignation to reorganize his coalition with parties representing ethnic Albanians to retain its majority.

PM named Dimitar Kovacevski, deputy finance minister, to take over as prime minister and propose a cabinet. The 47-year-old Harvard-trained economist will be an optimal person, Zaev believes.

The former Yugoslav region of 2 million has been caught in a tug-of-war for influence between Russia and the West. In office since 2017, Zaev reached a historic agreement with Greece to change his country’s name and open the door to NATO membership.

But he has failed to start Brussels accession talks due to a veto by neighbouring Bulgaria over disputes about history, language and minority rights.

“The results of the last elections, although they were local, at that political moment had a national political significance,” Zaev said in the resignation letter. “It would be irresponsible and unjustifiable to my people and my country if I personally continue to lead the government on the Euroatlantic path.”

Kovachevski may get a mandate to form a government from the president in the next 10 days, and a new government may be approved next month. The ruling coalition controls 64 seats in the 120-member assembly, Bloomberg News has learned.