By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonia’s leaders must respect the outcome of the December 11 elections and facilitate the formation of a new government, visiting EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said Tuesday following his mission in Skopje aimed at resolving the political crisis.
After meeting with key political leaders, Hahn urged Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, with whom he failed to meet during his stay, to respect the constitution and not to obstruct the mandate which would allow the formation of the opposition-led government.
“There is one suggestion and one proposal and that is to respect the democratic rules and standards which are, by the way, written down in the constitution. That means that if there is a majority in the government, by whomever, this has to be respected by everybody” Hahn said during a late night interview for Kanal 5 TV.
He also urged the quick organisation of a functional parliament as the best way to resolve ongoing tensions in the country by aiding a peaceful and institutional solution.
The leaders of the main political parties, who had separate meetings with Hahn during the day, said that the EU Commissioner had urged for the careful speeding up of the processes required for the formation of a new opposition-led government.
Only former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who is the head of the right-wing VMRO DPMNE party, which strongly opposes the formation of a new opposition-led coalition government, did not give a statement after the parlays.
He did not allow media to record any footage of his meeting with Hahn.
Opposition leader optimistic:
The head of the main opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), Zoran Zaev who mustered a majority in parliament sounded optimistic that parliament would resume its session to elect a new speaker and he would manage to receive a mandate.
“All else would be a banal search for excuses from VMRO DPMNE” Zaev said. He added that after the majority elects the new speaker, President Ivanov would have no more excuses not to grant the mandate.
Macedonia’s has not managed to form a new government since the early election on December 11. It was hoped that it might result in the resolution of a political crisis that has lasted for two years.
The crisis took a turn for the worse on March 1 when Ivanov refused to award Zaev a mandate to form a government, despite the opposition leader having assembled a majority in parliament. Ivanov said that Zaev’s alleged acceptance of the so-called “Albanian Platform” might destroy the country.
Despite calls from Western representatives and diplomats for Ivanov to reconsider his decision and stick to the constitutional norms, the president has not yet changed his mind.
President fails to meet Hahn:
One of the main focuses of Hahn’s visit, was to be a meeting scheduled with Ivanov. The president cancelled it on Tuesday, saying he would not be able to return in time from Hungary, where he had been on an official visit.
The presidential cabinet said that Ivanov had nothing new to say to Hahn about his decision, suggesting that Hahn should use the time in which he planned to talk to Ivanov to instead meet with protesters who held a rally against an opposition coalition during his visit to Macedonia.
Commenting on the canceled meeting, Hahn said that it would likely be better if he [Ivanov] stayed in the country during this tense period.
“I think everybody expects him to participate in a pro active role and to contribute to a peaceful solution,” Hahn said.
Protesters express anger towards Hahn:
In Skopje, thousands of protesters rallying against the formation of a new opposition-led coalition government for a third consecutive week, used Hahn’s visit as an opportunity to vent their anger.
Protesters expressed discontent towards Hahn for not meeting them as they had previously demanded. They said that they aimed to secure the holding of yet another snap polls as well as the public rejection of the so-called “Albanian Platform”.
The protests and President Ivanov’s refusal to grant the opposition coalition a mandate appear to reflect claims made by the right-wing VMRO DPMNE party, which was in power from 2006 until the recent elections.
The party claims that if the opposition gains power, the country could crumble because of the opposition’s alleged acceptance of a so-called ‘Albanian platform’ which proposes an extention rights for the country’s Albanian population.