The EU warned yesterday (17 May) that elections scheduled for next month in Macedonia could not be credible, because the ruling party was the only one to register candidates.
“We believe that under current circumstances any government resulting from elections where three major political parties (out of four) are not participating would not be a credible partner for the international community,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.
“We have said repeatedly that continuous political crisis in the country … is moving FYROM further away from its Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Kocijancic said, using the diplomatic name for the former Yugoslav republic.
The European Union last month suspended mediation efforts to resolve the crisis gripping the country, which is also struggling with its biggest European refugee crisis since World War II.
Last year, the EU negotiated an agreement between the government and opposition leaders which was supposed to pave the way for elections in April. They were postponed until June however, because of opposition concerns about fraud.
Macedonia’s snap elections were postponed by more than a month late yesterday (23 February), after the opposition threatened to boycott the polls over concerns they were open to fraud.
Deepening the crisis, President Gjorge Ivanov last month suspended a probe into a wiretapping scandal and granted mass pardons to those implicated, including former premier Nikola Gruevski.
Macedonia’s chief opposition figure accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on Monday of wire-tapping journalists, religious and opposition leaders, deepening a scandal that has engulfed the European Union candidate country in recent weeks.
Gruevski stepped down in January to make way for the election after 10 years in power, and parliament was dissolved last month.
His conservative VMRO-DPMNE was the only major party to register candidates for the June vote, as the main opposition Social Democrats and two ethnic Albanian groups decided to boycott it.
Macedonian lawmakers voted yesterday (18 January) to dissolve parliament next month ahead of an early election in late April, in line with an EU-backed deal to end a political crisis but under threat of a boycott by the main opposition.
But Gruevksi told AFP on Friday that no one had found a “constitutional way to postpone” the election.
Kocijancic said the government had failed to take the action needed to ensure the elections would be fair despite repeated EU calls.
“We believe … that there are not minimum conditions met to enable credible elections to take place,” she said. She urged all parties to sink their differences and put Macedonia back on course for EU membership.
Macedonia applied for EU membership in 2005 but has yet to open accession talks.
Macedonia’s president on Tuesday (12 April) blocked all judicial proceedings against top politicians embroiled in a wire-tapping scandal that sparked a major political crisis, a move the European Union said raised “serious concerns”.