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Pence, Macedonian PM Zaev Discuss US Support for Euro-Atlantic Integrations

© AP Photo / Robert Atanasovski(FILES) This file photo taken on December 04, 2016 shows the leader of the main Macedonian opposition Social Democrats Zoran Zaev delivering a speech during a pre election rally in Skopje on December 4, 2016
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 04, 2016 shows the leader of the main Macedonian opposition Social Democrats Zoran Zaev delivering a speech during a pre election rally in Skopje on December 4, 2016 - Sputnik International
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US Vice President Mike Pence and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev discussed by telephone on Monday the United States’ support of Macedonia’s aspiration to join the European Union and NATO, the White House stated in a press release on Monday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Pence congratulated Zaev on his election as prime minister of Macedonia on May 31, the release added.

"The Vice President underscored continued US support for Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations and encouraged Zaev to prioritize reforms that will advance Macedonia on its chosen path," the release stated.

Zaev ascending to power has been mired in controversy as numerous critics have charged that the US embassy in Skopje and Ambassador Jess Baily in particular have tried to destabilize the government of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and influence the country’s elections in favor of Zaev.

Protestors shout after entering into the parliament building in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday, April 27, 2017. - Sputnik International
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Still, Zaev’s Social Democratic Union (SDSM) lost the elections in December, but Zaev nonetheless became prime minister after the United States exerted pressure on Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov to provide him a mandate to form a government, according to published reports.

Since coming to power on May 31, Zaev has concluded a controversial Good neighborly agreement with Bulgaria that would remain secret until it is signed, so that Bulgaria does not veto Macedonia’s potential NATO membership.

Bulgaria has requested joint celebration of Macedonia’s national holidays such as Ilinden (St. Elijah’s Day) and changes in Macedonia’s history books.

Moreover, Zaev and his SDSM party have also signaled recently they will set in motion a parliamentary debate on the draft Law on the Use of Languages, effectively implementing the Albanian minority’s "Tirana Platform" that would turn Macedonia into a bilingual, federalized state.

Pence will meet Zaev and other leaders from the Balkans at the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica, Montenegro on August 2, the release added.

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