Friday

19th Aug 2022

Hahn warns Macedonia of strategic difficulties

  • Hahn: EU border closures 'might have an immediate effect on the situation here' in Macedonia (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The eight-hour Skopje talks, chaired by EU neighbourhood commissioner Johannes Hahn, came after Macedonia prime minister Nikola Gruevski filed his resignation with parliament on Friday morning.

The resignation, not yet ratified by MPs, is designed to pave the way for snap elections in April following a wiretapping scandal last year, which exposed high-level corruption and voting fraud in Gruevski’s regime, in power for almost 10 years.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But opposition leader Zoran Zaev said his SDSM party will boycott the elections because Gruevski has failed to create a level playing field.

“If there are elections on 24 April we will not take part, since there is no time to create conditions for a fair election race ... to clean up the voter lists and ... to regulate the state of the media," Zaev said in a statement.

“We will continue to fight for free, fair, and democratic conditions in which to hold elections.”

For his part, Gruevski is accusing Zaev of trying to postpone the vote because opinion polls indicate he'd win despite the wiretap scandal.

He told press after the talks that Zaev’s decision will “take the country even deeper into crisis”.

"The three political parties agreed on the election date. Only Zoran Zaev objected to the 24 April election date,” Gruevski said, referring to his own VMRO-DPMNE party and the two Macedonian Albanian parties, the DUI and DPA.

“He [Zaev] just wanted to postpone elections, without any serious arguments.”

Hahn told media, according to the A1 Television website, that Gruevski and Zaev should continue talks and that he was ready to come back to Skopje to help.

“The country is in a very difficult strategic situation,” he said.

“There is a very serious migration crisis in Europe. What we have seen in 2015 will certainly continue in 2016. Looking into the discussions in many European countries, there is growing tendency to close borders and this might have an immediate effect on the situation here in the country.”

With the European Commission threatening to rescind its positive recommendation on starting Macedonia-EU accession talks, Hahn also said the crisis “is … about the European, Euro-Atlantic perspective, where I believe a strong decisive government which can take decisions is important”.

Serbia elections

Elsewhere in the region, Serb PM Aleksandar Vucic on Sunday said he would call early elections, expected also in April, to get a stronger mandate to push through EU reforms.

He told a meeting of his SNS party: "My decision is that we will have elections ... Serbia needs four more years of stability so that it is ready to join the European Union.”

With the SNS riding high in the polls, he indicated that some members of the ruling coalition were trying to obstruct his pro-EU programme, including normalisation of Kosovo relations.

"We have entered into a conflict with those among us to whom the government is the way how to become rich,” he said, AFP reports, adding that “oligarchs, politicians, and criminals not interested in the progress of Serbia and reforms” have caused a “split in the [ruling] bloc”.

Serbia opened the first two chapters of EU talks in December, with Vucic saying he wants to be ready for accession by 2020.

Macedonia PM resigns, as EU comes to town

Gruevski ends 10-year reign, for now, urging opposition to respect April election date. EU's Hahn to decide if country ready for a fair vote.

Magazine

Fighting corruption and cutting red tape

Fighting corruption, enforcement of the rule of law, simplifying rules and procedures on the EU budget, and an effective public prosecutor's office - this is what the chair of the budget control committee expects from the next five years.

No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks

Serbia's president Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo's prime minster Albin Kurti met in Brussels with the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, in the hopes of finding a solution the recent spike in tensions between the two sides.

Opinion

Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?

The former Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have retained close ties with Russia since 1989. Yet this consensus may be shifting. At the UN, none of them supported Russia in the resolution condemning the Ukraine invasion.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us