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News 16 Jun 15

Macedonia Opposition Gives Gruevski Deadline to Go

Opposition leader Zoran Zaev said Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski must quit at least six months before any new elections - and, if a deal on this fails, the protests will be radicalized.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Opposition camp in front of the governmetn HQ in Skopje | Photo by: AP / Boris Grdanoski

Speaking at a press conference in Skopje on Tuesday, Macedonian Social Democrat leader Zaev said that ongoing EU-mediated talks with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski must result in Gruevski stepping down at least six months before new elections are held.

"Institutions must be re-built to a level of normality. Democratic capacities and corrective mechanisms must be restored," Zaev insisted, explaining why Gruevski has to leave ahead of elections.

In a TV interview on Monday, Zaev said he expected another round of EU-led talks at the end of this week, after the last round on June 10 in Brussels ended with no deal on formation of a transition government.

At the last round of talks, he said he had called for Gruevski to step down in September but the Prime Minister had refused that idea.

Zaev said that his call for Gruevski to quit at least half a year before new elections take place would remain his "final offer" at the talks.

Zaev has also said that if the talks with the government fail, the opposition is ready to "radicalize" the protests, presumably meaning acts of civil disobedience like blocking streets and institutions.

Media reports are meanwhile speculating that if the crisis is not solved by the end of this month with the EU format, US intervention can be expected.

In that respect, the media mention a possible visit by the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland.

Following a major anti-government rally on May 17, the opposition has already set up a protest camp in front of the government’s headquarters in Skopje.

The ruling party has copied the move and set up its own counter-camp “for the preservation of democracy” opposite the parliament.

The crisis in Macedonia centres on claims of mass illegal surveillance. The opposition accuses Gruevski of orchestrating the surveillance of more than 20,000 people and is demanding that he and his entire government resign.

Gruevski has insisted that compromising tapes of officials' conversations, which have been released by the opposition Social Democrats since February, were “created” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilize the country.


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