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News 11 Jun 13

Brussels Floats Possible Heads of Macedonian Inquiry

As Macedonian leaders fail to agree on who should head a commission of inquiry into last year's events in parliament, Brussels is throwing its own names into the ring, media report.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian parliament

As hope fades that the Macedonian government and opposition can agree on a domestic expert to lead an important commission of inquiry, Brussels is coming up with its own possible candidates, media in Macedonia have reported.

The body, agreed as part of an EU-brokered deal struck on March 1, will investigate events in the Macedonian parliament last December that caused a months-long political crisis.

The former Swedish Secretary General of the Council of Europe from 1994-1999, Daniel Tarshis, tops the list of proposed politicians, the Utrinski Vesnik daily said, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

A long-standing British Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament, Graham Watson, is the second proposal.

The MEP is a member of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee and is thus acquainted with Macedonia's stalled efforts to join the EU.

The third name on the list is the former Director-General for Enlargement at the European Commission, Michael Lee. Another Briton, he is seen as a strong supporter of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans.

The fourth proposal, according to the daily, is the Romanian law expert, Monica Macovei. The former Romanian Justice Minister carried out major judicial reforms in Romania that were essential for the country’s EU accession.

She is also well known in Macedonia, having served as an advisor to the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, during the early years of his government after 2006.

Last week, Gruevski and the newly elected head of the opposition Social Democrats, Zoran Zaev, agreed to step up talks on forming the commission.

It was initially intended to be formed in March. But delays occurred when Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE party and the opposition failed to agree on several issues, most importantly on who would chair the body.

Brussels has been urging Macedonia's leaders to set up the commission in order to demonstrate that their country is ready to start EU accession talks.

The EU-brokered deal ended a long political crisis that began on December 24, 2012, when the government parties passed a budget for 2013 in only minutes, after opposition MPs and journalists were expelled from the chamber.

Weeks of street protests followed, along with a boycott of parliament and an opposition threat to boycott the recently finished local elections.

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