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News 19 Apr 17

Bildt Urges Respect for Democracy on Macedonia Visit

Respect for democracy, the constitution, and European values will lift Macedonia from its current crisis, according to co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, ECFR, Carl Bildt.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Carl Bildt. Photo: World Economic Forum / Remy Steinegger

Former Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has urged respect for democracy and European values during a trip to Skopje today in an effort to push Macedonian politicians towards solving the country’s ongoing tense political stalemate.

“Democracy. Constitution. Europe. Respect for the three will carry Macedonia forward,” he tweeted after meeting with the leaders of the main opposition Social Democrats party, the SDSM.

Bildt, who has extensive experience in the Balkans, also acknowledged the depth of the current crisis, which has seen the president block the formation of a government and the election of a speaker of parliament by opposition parties.

“No end in sight for the constitutional crisis in Skopje. Trenches look even deeper. Grave situation,” he tweeted on Sunday as he set off for the Macedonian capital.

The diplomat, who is visiting as part of an ECFR mission, will meet with political party leaders including the heads of the main ethnic Albanian party the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, the centre-right VMRO DPMNE party, and the Albanian Besa party.

However, although some had speculated that he would also meet with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, a rendez-vous now appears unlikely.

Pro-government media in Skopje reported unofficially that Ivanov, who continues to refuse a mandate to the opposition-led coalition to form a new government, has declined to meet with Bildt.

News portal Republika reported that the refusal was down to “constant EU interference in Macedonia's own domestic affairs”. 

Officially the president’s cabinet, however, has remained silent.

Meanwhile, Macedonia’s parliament on Tuesday resumed a stalled session in which the new opposition-led majority in Macedonia’s parliament continues to press for the election of a new speaker and a government.

However, the session remains at an impasse due to long procedural discussions by VMRO DPMNE MP’s that have blocked any progress.

Macedonia’s lawmakers have failed to form a new government since early elections in December last year that were intended to resolve a two-year-long political crisis in the country.

The crisis deepened on March 1, when President Gjorge Ivanov, who was elected head of state as VMRO DPMNE’s candidate, refused to grant SDSM leader Zoran Zaev the mandate to form a government, despite the opposition leader having secured a majority in parliament.

Reflecting the stance of the VMRO DPMNE, which had been in power since 2006, Ivanov said that the opposition had accepted dangerous demands set by the Albanian parties, termed the “Tirana Platform”, that threaten Macedonia’s existence and integrity.

Albanians make up about a quarter of the population of Macedonia and are seeking greater official use of Albanian as well as a fairer distribution of national resources to the regions.

The SDSM denied accepting demands that would cause harm to the country and said the VMRO DPMNE was afraid to lose power because its leaders fear standing trial.

Several senior party figures, including VMRO DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski, are currently facing criminal investigations and indictments by the Special Prosecution, SJO, which they claim are politically motivated.

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