EU warns Macedonia elections may not meet international standards

Elections in Macedonia scheduled for June could fail to win international recognition due to an opposition boycott, a spokeswoman for the European Union warned Tuesday.

The elections are part of a broad, EU-brokered agreement to resolve a long-running political crisis between Gruevski's VMRO and the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) opposition, who refused to acknowledge the result of snap elections two years ago.

The head of Macedonia's ruling nationalist VMRO party, Nikola Gruevski, has insisted on going ahead with early elections on June 5, even though the country's three other main parties have decided not to participate in the polls.

The opposition accuses Gruevski and the VMRO party, which has been in power since 2006, of abusing control over Macedonia's levers of power - police, courts, the economy and media - to ensure another electoral triumph.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn, said Tuesday that the elections should not go ahead on June 5 because several political parties had not submitted their list of candidates by the deadline.

"We believe that, under the current circumstances, any government resulting from elections where three major political parties are not participating would not be a credible partner for the international community," Kocijancic said.

She also stressed the need to overhaul the voters' list, ensure balanced media coverage and investigate issues such as voter intimidation, adding that "this has simply not been done."

Kocijancic also called upon Skopje to revoke presidential pardons granted last month to dozens of politicians, including Gruevski, implicated in corruption allegations or a wiretapping scandal affecting hundreds of thousands of Macedonians.

"Justice must prevail and must be seen to prevail," she said, noting that it was "the only way that the citizens' trust will be restored" and would "help to end the current tensions."

Kocijancic said the EU was willing to help Macedonia - a membership candidate - to overcome its political impasse, but warned that the main responsibility lies with the parties involved.

"The continuous political crisis in the country is moving the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia further away from its Euro-Atlantic aspirations," the spokeswoman added, using the country's formal title.

Last month, efforts by the EU to broker fresh talks among the four feuding parties failed when SDSM Zaev refused to attend the meeting in Vienna unless the presidential pardons were revoked and the June elections were delayed.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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