Hahn invites Macedonia leaders to Vienna talks

Commissioner Hahn in Skopje flanked by Gruevski [L] and SDSM leader Zaev [R]. [Novinite]

The European Union has invited Macedonian leaders to talks Friday (22 April) on ending the political crisis that has gripped the small Balkan country for the last two years.

It has suggested leaders meet in Vienna with European commissioner Johannes Hahn, Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said yesterday (18 April).

“The aim of the meeting will be to discuss ways to solve the crisis, and to ensure that leaders will continue with the implementation of the Przino agreement,” she told AFP, referring to an accord among political leaders reached under EU auspices last year.

The meeting with Hahn, who is in charge of enlargement at the EU’s executive, would also discuss “reform priorities,” she said.

In Skopje, the Macedonian capital, the conservative ruling party, VMRO-DPMNE, said it would accept the invitation.

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SDSM), said a decision on whether to attend would be made “in the coming days”.

The country has been politically gridlocked for two years but the crisis rose a notch on 12 April when President Gjorge Ivanov halted a probe into more than 50 public figures suspected of involvement in corruption and a wire-tapping scandal.

The move triggered street protests against Ivanov and the ruling party’s leader, Nikola Gruevski. Fresh demonstrations on Monday drew several thousand, mostly young people who demanded Ivanov’s resignation.

Protesters ransack Macedonia president's office as crisis deepens

Protesters ransacked the offices of Macedonia’s presidency late yesterday (13 April) and set fire to the furniture, as thousands took to the capital’s streets in a deepening political crisis.

West condemns Macedonian president’s amnesty for corrupt officials

Thousands took to the streets of the Macedonian capital for a third consecutive evening yesterday (14 April) to protest against the president’s shock decision to halt probes into more than 50 public figures embroiled in a wire-tapping scandal.

The protesters moved through Skopje streets from one government building to another, chanting “No justice, no peace!”

Last week, Macedonia announced snap elections on 5 June, with the opposition vowing to boycott the vote on grounds that the conditions for free and fair polls had not been met – a contention backed by the EU and the US.

EU doubts if credible elections in Macedonia are still possible

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”.

Macedonia has been a candidate for EU membership since 2005, but has yet to open accession talks.

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