European Parliament seeks to end Macedonian political crisis

After pro-government rally in Skopje, Macedonian leaders to meet in Strasbourg to end political dispute

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The European Parliament has urged Macedonian leaders to find a solution to civil and political unrest in Macedonia by inviting them to Strasbourg to meet with members of the European Parliament.

Supporters of Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski gathered in the capital city of Skopje for a pro-government rally on Monday amid calls for him to resign.

The rally was organised "For a Strong Macedonia," by pro-government NGOs to support Gruevski against his political opponents who demand his resignation.

Government officials have stated that there has been no violence between the two parties.

Prime Minister Gruevski participated in the pro-government the rally and said the government has been under attack lately.

"We were silent but it was enough. It is time for Macedonia to respond...Macedonia does not give up. Macedonia is strong,” said Gruevski.

Gruevski said that Macedonian citizens would never support a man like Zoran Zaev becoming prime minister. He described the anti-government protesters as “violent and frustrated.”

"What will happen if this nomenclature of violent and frustrated people comes to power? They will eat people alive! They want my resignation?! They in fact want us to leave Macedonia to them. But this force, this massive attendance [at the rally] and this energy is the best answer to those people," Gruevski said.

"He was told and believed his handlers that in three days the Government would lower their heads and pack their bags. Three months later, we are stronger than ever, dedicated and determined, and our message is simple ‘There is no quitting, there is no bending our spines, there is no surrendering, Macedonia is strong! Macedonia is determined, Macedonia will win this battle.’ "

Leaders of Macedonia’s four major parties decided to meet on Monday to find a solution to the current unrest in the country. However, the leaders could not reach an agreement ending the political crisis and the civil unrest in the country. The talks have continued in Strasbourg in the European Parliament.

Opposition leader Zoran Zaev’s passport was confiscated in January due to his “coup” trial in Macedonia. For the Strasbourg meeting Zaev took his passport again.

Zaev organised a street demonstration on Sunday with thousands of people in Macedonia’s capital Skopje, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski who is under fire due to wiretapping and corruption allegations which have emerged in the past several months.  

Some of the demonstrators, including Zaev himself, have decided to put up tens of tents outside the parliament building. Protesters said they will not leave the “tent-camp” until Gruevski and the parliament resigns.

Gruevski has been accused by the protesters and his opponents of wiretapping, corruption, weak policies and an ailing economy by chief opposition figure Zoran Zaev, the leader of Social Democratic Union of Macedonia.

On Tuesday, Macedonia’s interior and transport ministers together with the head of intelligence resigned after Gruevski’s government came under pressure in the wake of the opposition’s wiretapping allegations.

The resignation of those top officials coincided with an incident in Kumanovo last Sunday when at least eight police officers and 14 members of an “armed group” were killed after a day-long clash in the northern border city.

Kumanovo is one of the areas of Macedonia with a dense ethnic Albanian population, and an ethnic uprising was staged in the city May 2001.

TRTWorld and agencies