ISSN 2330-717X

Macedonia Awaiting EU-US Ruling On Election Date

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The EU and US are expected on Friday to present their joint assessment of whether Macedonia is ready to face snap elections on April 24, as the government wants.

A joint EU and US assessment of whether Macedonia is ready to go into early elections is expected to influence a decision on whether to pursue an April 24 election date – or postpone polls until all reform priorities envisaged in last summer’s EU-brokered crisis accord are met.

“On one hand, April 24 is part of the [Przino summer crisis] agreement as a date for the early elections, but on the other hand there have been many delays in the implementation of Przino,” Aivo Orav, the EU ambassador to Macedonia, said in Skopje on Thursday.

On January 29, Orav and US Ambassador Jess Baily said in Skopje that more work needed to be done before Macedonia faced April elections, announcing a forthcoming assessment on the state of the reforms.

The diplomats pointed to the need for a fully staffed and funded State Election Commission that would carry out a credible cleanup of the electoral roll, “including field checks”, an agreement on media reforms that would allow “objective and unbiased” reporting, measures to separate state and political party activities and procedures to prohibit political pressure on state employees.

They made their move after the ruling parties in January unilaterally pushed ahead with April 24 election date – in spite of concern that the opposition might boycott the polls if the promised reforms remained unfulfilled.

While awaiting the joint assessment, details of the previously announced meeting between Macedonia’s politicians and the EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn are still unknown. It is not yet clear when it will take place and whether it will be in Skopje or Brussels.

The meeting should take place this or next week and should hopefully bring both government and opposition to a deal on elections.

Meanwhile, ongoing EU-brokered talks in Skopje on media reforms are moving slowly. After two days of talks on Wednesday and Thursday, the EU mediator in the parlays, Peter Vanhoutte, on Thursday tweeted that there is still no deal but that he remained optimistic.

Another key point in the crisis accord, the purification of the electoral roll that many observers say is unusually large and may contain many fictive voters, has begun under the instructions of the State Electoral Commission.

The Commission tasked IT companies to cross reference voter’s data from ten institutions and will later conduct field checks of voters, from door to door. However, uncertainty remains over the quality of the operation and the tight time frame.

The political crisis in Macedonia escalated last February, when the opposition started releasing batches of covertly recorded tapes, which it said showed that recently resigned Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was behind the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including ministers.

The opposition insists that the tapes contain incriminating evidence against many senior officials, including proof of high-level corruption, the government grip’s on the judiciary, prosecution, businesses and media, politically-motivated arrests and jailing, electoral violations and even an attempted cover-up of a murder of a man by a police officer.

Gruevski, who has held power since 2006, and who resigned last month as part of the crisis accord, says the tapes were “fabricated” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilize the country.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

One thought on “Macedonia Awaiting EU-US Ruling On Election Date

  • February 19, 2016 at 7:58 pm
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    Who in hell is the US and EU to asses weather Macedonia is ready to hold agreed by the four main political parties and as a sovereign state when to hold its elections?Does Iranian,German or French embassies dictate to the US if they are ready to hold national elections?My geuess is,US is not ready for elections for the following reasons;Accusations of not being born US citizen,Lobbyists paying or (buying off)candidates.Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, re call your ambassador Bayli,he is sticking his nose in Macedonian internal affaires.Enough is enough.This same ambassador was a co conspirator in 2015 in Kumanovo on the loss of 8 security individuals.Macedonians do not want any form of Orange Revolution,we have seen Ukraine,Syria and others.We are fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan even though we are not welcome into the same tent.

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