Monday

22nd Jan 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap