Macedonia's Gruevski, Zaev Fail to Reach Agreement in EU-Brokered Talks
Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski and opposition leader Zoran Zaev made on Tuesday and Wednesday another attempt at solving the political crisis into which the country plunged earlier this year.
This time, talks were held in Strasbourg, with the EU's regional policy commissioner Johannes Hahn and MEPs Richard Howitt, Ivo Vaigl and Eduard Kukan acting as brokers.
The attempt ended in the small hours of Wednesday a message of any substantial results - and as Howitt's post on Twitter reads, the discussions which kicked off on Tuesday evening came to a halt just before half past three the next day.
3.28am - cross-party mediation talks I'm co-convening with fYR #Macedonia govt & opposition parties concludes for night in Strasbourg.— Richard Howitt MEP (@richardhowitt) May 20, 2015
Howitt later produced a vague-worded statement reading that "the parties confirm commitment to EU integration process and democratic principles and agreed to put the interest of the country first." Brokers for their part "welcomed the frank discussions on key issues of contention. All parties agreed on the importance of continued meetings."
Prior to that, the two Macedonian politicians met with representatives of their respective political families, MEP Manfred Weber (EPP) and Gianni Pittella (S&D).
After two days of renewed street protests and a pro-government rally held Monday evening, political leaders remained at loggerheads over Zaev's demand for the resignation of Gruevski which will give way to a transitional government. Various attempts were made at winding down tensions in leaders' meetings held in Skopje, but all failed, and the next one is scheduled for May 26.
No statements by the conservative PM or the socialist opposition leader are expected after the meetings.
Meanwhile, diplomats involved in reconciliation efforts commented on the likelihood of a possible breakthrough.
Hewitt is quoted by Macedonian daily Utrinski vesnik as saying all ideas put forward during the talks were being considered, not ruling out the formation of a transitional government.
But in an interview for the national Alsat-M TV station he refused to comment further on the the talks, warning this could affect the parties' decisionmaking.
Aivo Orav, the EU's Ambassador to Skopje, warned the country might be deprived of its recommendation to launch EU membership negotiations if no solution is found "by August 31".
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