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News 28 Apr 15

German Diplomat Urges Resignations in Macedonia

German ambassador to Macedonia says top-level resignations may be needed to ensure a credible investigation into opposition claims of government corruption.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

German Ambassador to Macedonia, Christine Althauser | Photo by: diplo.de

Germany's ambassador to Macedonia, Christine Althauser, told a round table in Skopje on EU integration that Macedonian officials may have to resign to ensure a credible investigation into opposition claims that the government has abused its powers.

"Political consequences of this scope... are unavoidable", Althauser said on Monday. "Political consequences mean, for instance, resignations as a precondition to get the necessary transparent and impartial investigation started."

Last week, the US ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily, called on Macedonia to probe claims that the government had misused its powers and - if need be - remove those who were hampering the credibility of the process.

The German ambassador said Macedonia's failure to start treating opposition allegations seriously was irritating Western ambassadors.

"Our Western belief that... the interests of the state should prevail over party politics seems to be naive in regards to the political culture here, to say the least," Althauser remarked.

Althauser told the round table that it was "tragic" to see that all of the country's shortcomings listed in the annual reports of the European Commission on Macedonia - over the rule of law, judicial and media independence and over elections - confirmed by the contents of the tapes of official conversations released by the opposition.

"Over-employment in state institutions, often staffed with party followers rather than competent administrators, unequal treatment of individuals and certain institutions before the courts... political interference in the media, in particular in the public broadcaster, have... made each Macedonian citizen and taxpayer a victim of the clientelistic and partisan behavior of state institutions," the ambassador said.

Macedonia's opposition Social Democrats under Zoran Zaev started releasing secretly recorded tapes of officials' conversations in February. It claims they show Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski orchestrated the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, adding that the material comes from sources in the Macedonian secret services.

Gruevski has insisted that the tapes were created by unnamed "foreign secret services" in collaboration with the opposition in order to destabilise the country.

The European Parliament has launched talks between the opposition and the government to help overcome the political crisis in the country, but the talks have far to yield any results.

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