Macedonian Prime Minister visits Pope Francis in the Vatican

After heading back from France, Nikola Gruevski visits the Vatican to seek help to settle Macedonia’s internal crisis

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski headed to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis on Friday seeking to arrange financial partnerships between the two countries.

Gruevski arrived with his delegation with a commercial flight to Italy because his state-owned plane was in Nuremberg for repair after making an emergency landing due to technical problems encountered in Zurich on his return from Strasbourg.

The Macedonian premier and opposition leader Zoran Zaev came face-to-face in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Tuesday, to resolve the political crisis in Macedonia.

Although there were no press releases after Tuesday’s meeting, on his return to the Macedonian capital Skopje, Zaev said that he and Gruevski “still have not entered into negotiations therefore nothing is announced in details.”

The European Parliament has stated that both parties agreed “to put the interest of the country first” and both of them stressed their commitment to the EU integration process.

After the meeting it was officially announced that talks will continue in Skopje on May 26.

After Gruevski left Strasbourg, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Sİmonovic said that the “serious challenges to the rule of law and the shrinking of democratic pace” in Macedonia left him “deeply concerned.”

Anti-government protests have been taking place in Macedonia since May 5 after protesters built tent camps in front of the Prime Minister’s office, declaring their intention to stay until Gruevski resigns.

At the beginning of May, some 2,000 Macedonians clashed with police outside the state headquarters in Skopje as they called for the resignation of Prime Minister Gruevski, who has been embroiled in a wiretapping scandal.

The Macedonian opposition later organized a street demonstration with thousands of people in the capital Skopje, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

At least 10 policemen were injured in the two-hour clash during which the demonstrators set rubbish containers on fire and threw stones at police who were guarding the building.

Eight protesters from the anti-government rally on May 5 were later sentenced to three months probation while another protester faces a 10 month prison sentence.

The court decided that the detainees from the anti-government rally “participated in a mob that would prevent an official from performing his duty.”
According to Macedonian press, the defendants admitted to the attributed crimes.

TRTWorld and agencies