Macedonia crisis: Bulgaria urges dialogue, end to violence

Written by on April 14, 2016 in Europe - Comments Off on Macedonia crisis: Bulgaria urges dialogue, end to violence

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov has called on political leaders in Macedonia to resume political dialogue on solutions to the political crisis in that country and has appealed to everyone to refrain from any form of violence.

Mitov’s April 14 statement came after protests in the Republic of Macedonia – which arose after Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov decreed a blanket amnesty for 46 government and opposition figures including former long-standing prime minister Nikola Gruevski in regard to a wire-tapping scandal – turned violent.

Ivanov’s offices in Skopje were among state buildings attacked by protesters. Several injuries have been reported since the protests and violence flared up this week.

Mitov said that democracy and the rule of law requires politicians to live up to their responsibilities. “It also means refraining from actions that could undermine the rule of law in the state,” he said, in an apparent reference to Ivanov’s amnesty decision.

“I call on all political leaders in the Republic of Macedonia to immediately resume political dialogue and to seek common solutions to the current political crisis, in the first place to occupy themselves with maintaining public order and internal stability. I appeal for refraining from any form of violence,” Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister said.

He said that it was necessary to return Macedonia as quickly as possible to the implementation of the Przino Agreement.

Mitov was referring to a 2015 agreement among the main political parties in Macedonia, mediated by the European Union, to bring opposition party SDSM into participation in government ministries, the stepping down of Gruevski as prime minister to open the way for early parliamentary elections in June 2016 and the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the wire-tapping scandal.

He said that only through implementing the Przino Agreement could Macedonia maintain political stability, rule of law and integrity of the institutions, without which fair and democratic elections could not be held.

“I urge politicians in the Republic of Macedonia to take up the agenda of reforms, to strengthen democratic institutions in the interest of all citizens and to restore the Republic of Macedonia to the path of European integration,” Mitov said.

A day earlier, on April 13, United States state department spokesperson John Kirby said that the US was deeply concerned by the announcement by Macedonian president Ivanov to pardon persons subject to investigation in connection with the wiretapping scandal.

“If implemented, this decision will protect corrupt officials and deny justice to the people of Macedonia. It will also further undermine Macedonian rule of law, the integrity of its judicial institutions, and the credibility of its leaders’ commitment to the fundamental values of Nato and the European Union,” the State Department spokesperson said.

“As a friend of Macedonia, the United States strongly urges President Ivanov to reconsider his decision, and to let the Special Prosecutor’s Office—established as part of the Przino Agreement—investigate serious allegations of government wrongdoing, and to allow the courts to do their jobs. We also encourage the government and parties to continue working on reforms that will strengthen democratic institutions and return Macedonia to a path to credible elections and Euro-Atlantic integration,” Kirby said.

On April 12, the EU’s foreign policy arm, the European External Action Service (EEAS), said that Macedonia had committed itself to promoting the rule of law and fighting impunity.

“Against this background, today’s (April 12) decision by President Ivanov on the pardoning of a number of officials raises serious concerns. It comes at a time when all parties should be seeking ways to preserve the Przino Agreement, an EEAS spokesperson said.

“We call on all sides to avoid interventions that risk undermining years of efforts within the country and with the support of the international community to strengthen the rule of law.

“It is important to support the work of the Special Prosecutor and her team established by parliament as part of the Przino Agreement to continue to investigate the serious issues brought forward last year,” the spokeperson said.

It was equally important to prepare for credible elections and to keep the country on the Euro-Atlantic path. “It is therefore essential that all parties return to dialogue and find a common agreement that serves the citizens,” the EEAS said.

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