New crisis talks between Macedonian parties end without agreement

New crisis talks between Macedonian parties end without agreement
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje July 15, 2016

A new round of talks between the four main political parties in Macedonia aimed at overcoming the ongoing political crisis ended without agreement on July 14, but talks are expected to continue soon, the EU ambassador in Skopje has said.

Macedonia is facing deep political crisis with months with no signs of quick solution. While progress was reported at the talks, the main sticking point is the authority of the interior minister, who will be selected from the ranks of the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) before the next election.

“Many issues were agreed but still there is one issue which is pending and unfortunately the parties were not able to reach an agreement. I hope we will continue as soon as possible,” EU ambassador in Skopje Aivo Orav was quoted by broadcaster Telma.

Both SDSM and the governing VMRO-DPMNE party believe that early elections are the only solution for the crisis. However, after being scheduled first for April 24 and then for June 5, the planned elections were postponed on the request of the opposition, which claimed that there were no conditions for a free and democratic vote. Conditions include clearing of the voters' registry and media reforms.

The crisis started 18 months ago when incriminating wiretapped conversations involving top officials were leaked by the SDSM. It deepened in mid-April when President Gjorge Ivanov pardoned 56 people, including top politicians under criminal investigation, which sparked mass protests in the country.

The pardons were later revoked, but protests continued. The latest protest was held on July 11 against a planned Eurobond issue of up to €650mn.

Marketing of the Eurobond started on the morning of July 14 but later in the day was postponed after a member of the SDSM sent a letter claiming that Macedonia may not have proper legal authority to issue the notes, the SDSM said in a statement.

The party claimed the Eurobond issue was a "financial crime" that was "detrimental to the citizens, the economy and future generations".