13:48 GMT +308 December 2019
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    People protest in front of a police cordon set at the approach of the Interior Ministry in Skopje, Macedonia.

    Brussels Flexes Muscles Over Macedonia

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    The Macedonian government has been summoned by the European Union to Brussels. The EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, has ordered the ruling government and its opposition leaders for talks on ending the political crisis in the country.

    The crisis continues in Macedonia amid claims of mass illegal surveillance of more than 20,000 people by Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. The opposition also accused Gruevski of election fraud and abuse of the justice system and media. However, Gruevski insists the tapes have been "created" to destabilize the country. 

    Opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev is demanding the formation of an interim government, in which the electoral roll is checked and any electoral flaws ironed out. Meanwhile, Gruevski insists the tapes have been "created" to destabilize the country.

    Violent demonstrations broke out and rival protest camps were erected outside government buildings, which led to calls from Western diplomats for the Macedonian political parties to meet and resolve the crisis.

    Leaders of the ethnic Albanian bloc, Ali Ahmeti from the Democratic Union for Integration and Menduh Thaci from the Democratic Party of Albanians are also expected to attend the meeting in Brussels. And top of the agenda is reaching an agreement on a transitional period up to the snap elections next April.

    But the question of who will be in charge of the interim government remains unanswered — as does whether Gruevski, who has been in power since 2006, will actually step down as PM during the transition period. And now Brussels wants to know. 

    The Republic of Macedonia or, as the European Union call it, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been a candidate for accession to the EU since 2005. Negotiations haven’t started yet and many obstacles stand in the way.

    One of them is Greece, as it has blocked Macedonian membership of both NATO and the EU until the "Macedonia name dispute" is resolved.

    Meanwhile Greece’s future within the European Union also remains unresolved. Crisis meetings are to be held with Brussels to unlock the funding from international lenders to prevent Greece defaulting on its debt. 

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    Tags:
    European Union, politics, protest, Zoran Zaev, Nikola Gruevski, Johannes Hahn, Brussels, Europe, Macedonia
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