Political crisis in Macedonia ends

Seven month long political crisis in Macedonia ends as PM Gruevski resigns

Photo by: European Commission
Photo by: European Commission

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn announced an agreement in Skopje late Tuesday night intended to overcome the seven month long political crisis in Macedonia.

Commissioner Hahn told reporters after the meeting that problems sometimes take time, but as a result there is an agreement which has been signed by leaders of big four political parties.

“I'm grateful for the achievements as agreed early elections. We'll focus further for the implementation of the report and the other recommendations of European Commission. This day is excellent day and this night. It will open the door very wide to the Euro-Atlantic perspective,” said Hahn.

The document was signed by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Social Democrat (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev, the head of the junior ruling Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), Ali Ahmeti and the head of the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians (PDSH), Menduh Thaci.

Hahn described, contracting parties are obliged to honour it "in full and in good faith."

The Macedonian crisis started in January after the illegal release of phone records of high ranking government officials by opposition leader Zoran Zaev.

He accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of corruption and electoral fraud, according to the information gained from the wiretaps.

Gruevski and government officials denied the allegations, saying the recordings were completely fabricated and manipulated and claimed it was an attack on national security.

Early on May 9, Macedonian security forces clashed with ethnic Albanians, believed to belong to the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kumanovo. As a result 22 people were killed, including eight Macedonian police officers.

Protesters later hit the streets accusing Prime Minister Gruevski of attempting to distract focus away from the wiretaps.

After this operation, Zaev released another wiretap accusing Gruevski of covering up the death of a journalist in 2013, which led to more protests calling on Gruevski to resign.

On May 19, Gruevski and Zaev met in Strasbourg, France, for a 10-hour meeting about the crisis, however they couldn't come to an agreement for a solution.

Macedonian leaders agreed, on June 2, to have an early election, no later than April of 2016.

One of the conditions of Zaev was about Nikola Gruevski to resign six months before the early elections, but it was rejected.

Leaders met on June 10 in Brussels to find a solution over the crisis, but they could not reach a deal and the Commissioner expressed his disappointment about the lack of responsibility and leadership.

Hahn came to Skopje after Victoria Nuland - the United States Department of State Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The meeting lasted until 2:00 AM late night with four political party leaders, Members of the European Parliament Ivo Vajgl, Eduard Kukan and Richard Howitt were in Skopje.

Also, Skopje’s EU ambassador Aivo Orav and Skopje’s US ambassador Jess Baily also attended the meeting.

“It is important to say that it is European solution” Hahn told to reporters.

Hahn also gave information on the future path of the solution saying, “Next week we'll have an association council in Brussels where we have further so to say assessment all the necessary reform issues, we'll have a high-level dialogue in September. We'll have a progress report.”

What the agreement is about

After the meeting with European Commission and other parts of attenders PM Gruevski explained the details of the contract.

An important detail of the contract is the current Prime Minister will resign in mid-January.

“We reached agreement in which SDSM will returned to the Parliament on 1 of September. As system solution now and for the parliamentary elections, 100 days before every general election the government will withdraw and will form government for conducting elections.”

This will mean the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE will nominate interim Prime Minister for a period of 100 days from January 15, 2016 to April 24, 2016, the day the elections are scheduled to be held.

On the eight point statement of the European Commission that posted after the meeting lined the protocol articles. According to the statement “On 1 September 2015, SDSM will return to Parliament, as set out in the second indent of Article 6 of the June 2 Agreement,” SDSM has been boycotting the Parliament since June 2014.

The four political party will choose a prosecutor by compromise who will investigate the wiretaps and the contents.

"By 15 September 2015, there shall be a new, Special Prosecutor with full autonomy to lead the investigations surrounding and arising from the interception of communications. This Special Prosecutor shall be appointed by agreement of the undersigned parties," the Statement says.

Opposition leader Zaev confirmed the meeting saying “Gruevski and his closest associates rule in criminal and corrupt ways and do not win but steal elections," said at a press conference on Wednesday, adding that "we delivered what we promised, that Gruevski will not organize and carry out the [early] elections."

TRTWorld and agencies