EU, US Ambassadors Concerned with Macedonia Gov't

Southeast Europe | May 12, 2015, Tuesday // 13:20|  views

Despite paying respect to victims and extending condolence (what citizens are pictured doing here), the envoys have warned of Macedonia's lack of progress toward answering to the opposition's numerous allegations. EPA/BGNES

Macedonia's government is not doing enough to account for the opposition's allegations of wrongdoing, several Western ambassadors have warned.

In a joint statement published by the US Embassy in Skopje, the diplomats representing the US, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the EU are denouncing the attack in Kumanovo which claimed on Saturday the life of 8 police officers.

All the abovementioned envoys have extended their condolence to the people of Macedonia "for the tragic deaths of the brave police officers" who died as a result of the attack, the ambassadors have offered "to assist in any way that we can," also firmly condemning the episode of violence and welcoming President Gorge Ivanov's move to meet political parties' representatives on Sunday.

However, they are also critical of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's government over its response to opposition allegations which triggered street protests in the days before the tragic assault.

"This continued inaction casts serious doubt on the Government of Macedonia’s commitment to the democratic principles and values of the Euro-Atlantic community. Continued failure to demonstrate this commitment with concrete action will undermine Macedonia’s progress towards EU and NATO membership," the message reads.

The ambassadors also repeat they are expecting "appropriate political and legal measures" against "those responsible" with regard to the "clearly unacceptable behavior" revealed by the disclosures.

They are referring to the opposition SDSM party's accusations of government involvement in the death of a student, which sparked outrage from thousands of Macedonians, but also to earlier "evidence" (as SDSM leader Zoran Zaev describes it) of Gruevski's interference in the judiciary, in media freedom and most spheres of public life.

The buildup of tensions in the months of political infighting between Gruevski and Zaev culminated in several nights of mass demonstrations across the country. Protesters demanding Gruevski's resignation, however, put an end to their events after Sunday and Monday were declared days of national mourning over the deaths of police officers in Kumanovo.

"In order to address institutional weaknesses highlighted by the disclosures, we call on the government to consider specific reforms, including on the integrity of the electoral system, media freedom, independence of the judiciary, freedom of speech and whistle-blower protection."   

The envoys say they are also to meet Zaev and Ali Ahmeti, the leader of ethnic Albanian DUI party, "to share similar messages".

Envoys of the US, the UK, and Germany have already separately called for a new government Macedonia, a step also demanded by the opposition and tacitly encouraged by EU officials.

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Tags: Kumanovo, Nikola Gruevski, zoran zaev, Ali Ahmeti, protests, opposition, Ambassadors, US, UK


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