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News 24 Apr 15

US: Macedonia Wiretap Probe Must be Credible

Macedonia needs to probe claims that the government is misusing its power and ensure that the inquiry has real credibility, the US Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily, told the media.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

US ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily

In a TV interview on Thursday, US ambassador Baily said Macedonia must resolve the political crisis concerning opposition claims that the government has gravely misused its powers, investigate those claims and - if need be - remove those that hamper credibility of the process.

Opposition revelations have "raised serious allegations about questions of the rule of law, about judicial independence, about election issues and about government relations with the media," Baily told Telma TV.

"There are serious allegations about government abuse of power," Baily noted, adding that the government needed to "ensure that they are taken seriously, and also to ensure that the processes that will look into that will enjoy credibility, and to take measures".

Baily said that regardless of recently launched talks between the government and the opposition in Brussels, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski should not waste any time if he wishes to restore trust in institutions that has been badly shaken.

"What's also important is for Macedonia to reassure its citizens and its international partners of its commitment to the values that undergird the European Union and NATO - democratic values," the diplomat said, adding that there are "measures that the government can take right now".

The ambassador recalled that during similar scandals in the United States, "We've had situations that required recusals, reassignments of people involved where there are conflicts of interests, suspensions, and yes, even resignations.

"Not with a goal to establish guilt or culpability but just to ensure people that the investigation will go forward in a credible manner," he added.

"I don't think good governance should be a matter of political negotiation," Baily said.
Asked whether the US is ready to step up political involvement in efforts to resolve the crisis, Baily said Washington was coordinating matters with the EU and, if need be, is willing to mediate in the process.

However, the ambassador said Macedonia's own politicians, and ultimately, the people of Macedonia, needed to play the pivotal role in bringing the country back on track in terms of EU and NATO integration.

The opposition Social Democrats under Zoran Zaev started releasing secretly recorded tapes of government officials' conversations in February. It claims they show 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.

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