Macedonians protest against planned €650mn Eurobond issue

Macedonians protest against planned €650mn Eurobond issue
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje July 12, 2016

A protest took place in the Macedonian capital Skopje on July 11 against the government's plans to issue a new Eurobond of up to €650mn, the protestors’ movement said. The protest was organised as part of the anti-government "Colourful Revolution", which started in April.

The Macedonian finance ministry said on July 8 that Macedonia is set to issue an Eurobond worth up to €650mn with maturity of up to ten years to patch the budget gap and repay old debts. The issue comes at a time when Macedonia is facing deep political crisis and the government has been criticised by the opposition for huge borrowing and increasing the country’s debt.

The protest was held in front of the finance ministry building in downtown Skopje.

Police blocked access to the building and used tear gas to prevent the protestors approaching but they managed to breach the cordon. They threw paint at the building, which is a regular strategy of Colourful Revolution protestors.

"We demand the resignation of the current government of VMRO-DPMNE and DUI and the formation of a transitional government that will stop throwing the country into heavy debt, will implement urgent reform priorities and will create conditions for fair elections," the Colourful Revolution movement said on its Facebook page.

Reuters reported on July 7 that Macedonian officials are set to visit investors in the UK and US starting from July 11, after the government mandated banks to organise a series of roadshows for the planned borrowing on the international market.

Protests in Skopje started in mid-April after President Gjorge Ivanov pardoned 56 people, including top politicians under criminal investigation. The decision was later revoked, but protests continued. So far, there has been little progress in resolving the political deadlock.

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland visited Macedonia as part of her Balkan tour on July 11, and urged Macedonian political stakeholders to fully implement the 2015 Przino agreement and to agree on a new date for early elections in the coming days in order to overcome the political crisis in the country.

Early elections were scheduled firstly on April 24 and then on June 5 but were postponed as the international community and Macedonian opposition parties claimed that conditions for a free and democratic vote were not in place. Conditions include clearing the electoral roll and media reforms.