Macedonian president warns EU, NATO of Albanian meddling

Gjorge Ivanov [Truba7113/Shutteratock]

In a letter sent to European Council President Donald Tusk ahead of the 9-10 March EU summit, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov warned against attempts by Western powers to impose on his country a political platform “written in Tirana”.

On 1 March Ivanov refused to allow a coalition of Social Democrats and parties representing the country’s big ethnic Albanian minority to form a government because of their pledge to allow wider official use of the Albanian language.

“The Tirana platform became a condition for forming the government of the Republic of Macedonia,” Ivanov wrote.

The so-called Tirana Platform was discussed by the three ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia and with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana, and was later signed in Skopje on 8 January. It seeks, among other things, to give Albanian the status of an official language in Macedonia.

Russia has accused Albania, NATO and the European Union (on 2 March) of trying to impose a pro-Albanian government on Macedonia.

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“The platform is a post-elections document, adopted in another country, in a cabinet of a foreign statesman and with the mediation of a Prime Minister of a foreign country,” Ivanov wrote. Reportedly, the Platform was drafted in the cabinet of Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati with the approval of Rama and was also discussed in Prishtina.

“This platform endangers the sovereignty and independence of the state, bringing the Republic of Macedonia into a position of subordination or dependence in relation to another country. The implementation of the platform implies changes to the constitution of the Republic of Macedonia that would jeopardise the unitary character of the state,” Ivanov edded. The letter is also addressed to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, to US President Donald Trump and to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The President of Macedonia said he “personally briefed” EU Neighbourhood Commissioner Johannes Hahn and foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini over the issue.

“I asked them to publicly and clearly condemn the platform as an act of interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and as a document that further destabilises the situation and subjects us to internal-political, inter-ethnic and possible geopolitical influences. I reiterate that this document is of ultimate and blackmailing nature that suspends the Przino Agreement where the European Union has involved its entire foreign policy credibility,” Ivanov said.

The so-called Przino agreement was negotiated by the EU in July 2015 to end the Macedonian political and institutional crisis in the first half of that year. It foresaw early general  elections in December 2016, as well as a special prosecutor to lead the investigations into the possible crimes highlighted by the wiretapping scandal.

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The early elections have so far failed to produce a cabinet. This week’s EU summit is expected to discuss the situation in the Western Balkans, following the recent visit of Mogherini.

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