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news 03 Mar 17

Russia Accuses West of Backing 'Greater Albania'

Russia's Foreign Ministry has accused the West of interfering in Macedonia's internal affairs in order to realise its project of a 'greater Albania'.

Former PM Nikola Gruevski and Macedonian presiden Gjorgje Ivanov. Photo: MIA:

In the second official statement in less than a day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that foreign interference in Macedonia’s affairs had taken on extreme forms.

Russia insisted that although former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his VMRO DPMNE party had won the December 11 general election, Western politicians wanted to hand power to the runners-up, the Social Democrats.

The statement said that EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and “other high-ranking officials of the so-called ‘enlightened Europe’", had continued to exert unprecedented pressure on President Ivanov, demanding that he give the post of prime minister to the opposition Social Democrats and their ethnic Albanian parrtners.

“The head of the self-proclaimed [state of] Kosovo Hashim Thaci has joined the EU officials, calling on the Macedonia Albanians to take their rights into their hands in accordance with the Greater Albania project which includes vast areas in a number of Balkan states,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This is just fresh evidence proving that the quasi-state of Kosovo is one of the main sources of instability in the Balkan region,” the statement said, quoted by the Russian Tass agency.

The statement said that on December 11, the ruling party gained the most votes in the election and despite much manipulation, the opposition, “openly supported by the EU and US, had to face a defeat.

“The Macedonian people should decide their future themselves, without having to face foreign interference,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

On Thursday, the Russian ministry issued a similar statement, saying that the political crisis in Macedonia was provoked by external interference in the country’s internal affairs.

“Attempts, which are actively supported by EU and Nato leaders, are being made to make Macedonians accept the ‘Albanian platform’ designed in Tirana ... office based on the map of the so-called Greater Albania, which illustrates its territorial claims to vast regions in neighbouring Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece,” it said.

Meanwhile, Western politicians have urged Ivanov to allow a new coalition of Macedonian opposition and Albanian parties take power because they have a majority of 67 out of the 120 seats in parliament.

EU foreign policy chief Mogherini visited Skopje on Thursday and urged Ivanov in person to scrap his decision and hand a mandate to form a government to Zaev.

"It would be impossible for anyone to convince anyone in the democratic world that a majority of MPs that represent the majority of citizens in a unitary state cannot be allowed to form a government," she said.

"This breaks the spirit of democracy. This is inconsistent with basic democratic principles... [and] with the Euro-Atlantic integration process" Mogherini told reporters.

Similar messages on Wednesday and Thursday arrived from the US ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily, from the EU Enlargement Commissioner Hahn and from the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier.

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