Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Macedonia PM resigns, as EU comes to town

  • Gruevski: Outed for corruption by wiretaps, but still popular (Photo: epp.eu)

Macedonia’s PM, Nikola Gruevski, is ending his 10-year reign, for now, after promising to step down, under an EU accord, the same day the EU neighbourhood commissioner comes to Skopje.

Gruevski said on Thursday (14 January) he’ll file his resignation with parliament on Friday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Street protests last year prompted EU to step in (Photo: sdsm.org.mk)

His announcement comes 100 days before snap elections on 24 April.

The vote will be prepared by a caretaker government of people from Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party and from opposition leader Zoran Zaev’s SDSM.

The VMRO-DPMNE will keep the PM post, with Emil Dimitriv, the party secretary general, tipped for the job.

The developments follow an EU and US-backed deal, the Przino Agreement, last year, designed to end a political crisis caused by a wiretapping scandal.

Zaev, last February, leaked recordings which testify to corruption and electoral fraud at the highest levels of the Gruevski regime, prompting street protests.

An EU official who studied the tapes previously told EUobserver: “In any Western European country … the whole government would have resigned.”

The crisis isn’t over yet.

Gruevski, in his announcement, claimed he has “fulfilled” all Przino obligations, including the creation of a special prosecutor on the wiretapping affair and reform of the State Election Commission.

Zaev says reform is too slow to ensure a fair vote and has threatened to boycott it.

Complaints include: that the prosecutor hasn’t been able to start work, meaning there’s been no accountability for the wiretap crimes; that voter lists haven’t been checked; and that Gruevski has a monopoly on media.

But Gruevski says Zaev is trying to delay the vote because opinion polls indicate VMRO-DPMNE will win.

“The elections are scheduled for 24 April. Now is the time to fulfill this obligation,” he said on Thursday.

“After the next election, I won’t lose time on the old political bickering … I have big plans for the state economy, growth and development, to safeguard the way for the opening of new jobs and investment in all areas.”

His resignation comes the same day the EU neighbourhood commissioner, Johannes Hahn, comes to Skopje to assess Przino compliance.

He will meet the leaders of the four main political parties.

He said on Thursday: “I expect that the outstanding elements of the political agreement will be resolved before or during my visit, allowing the election authorities to organise credible elections according to the agreed timetable.”

He earlier threatened to withdraw the commisson’s positive recommendation to start EU accession talks if Gruevski doesn’t fall into line.

But for some experts, such as Nikola Dimitrov, a scholar at The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Macedonia’s former US ambassador, if Hahn endorses the April date, he’ll be making a serious error.

“If [Hahn] acquiesces to elections going ahead as scheduled in these conditions, [he] will be complicit in letting people, who face serious allegations of criminal misconduct, get off the hook,” Dimitrov said in an op-ed in EUobserver, also on Thursday.

“It will perpetuate the crisis and legitimise further erosion of democracy.”

The US vice-president, Joe Biden, also met Gruevski in Washington on Monday.

Like Hahn, he urged pre-election reforms, but he didn’t refer to the EU official’s “agreed timetable.”

“The vice-president and prime minister agreed on the importance of continued implementation of the Przino Agreement and taking the actions necessary to ensure credible elections,” Biden’s office said.

Opinion

Macedonia: the EU's democratic dilemma

If the EU gives its blessing to April elections in Macedonia under present conditions, it will let slip a unique chance to protect democracy in the Western Balkans.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us