Political crisis in Macedonia

Macedonia is in the throes of a serious political crisis in which ethnic tensions threaten to escalate. The national conservative VMRO and former prime minister Nikola Gruevski failed to gain a majority in December's elections. The Socialists and the Democratic Party of Albanians want to govern - but have not received a mandate from the president. When they named a parliamentary speaker two weeks ago their opponents stormed the parliament. How can the country avoid chaos?

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Duma (BG) /

Clear prospect of accession needed

Duma believes that clear signals from the EU could help to resolve the political crisis in Macedonia:

“The Social Democrats are coming under major pressure from the opposition because of their collaboration with the Albanian parties. Even the tiniest concession on language, state symbols and territorial unity will provoke a ferocious attack from the opposition. So the Social Democrats would be well advised to stick to the status quo - on the basis of democratic principles and close cooperation with the EU institutions on contentious issues. Brussels for its part must finally show greater sensitivity regarding the real problems of Macedonia and other accession candidates in the western Balkans. The lack of clarity about their prospects of joining is demotivating them and prompting them to try to solve their problems on their own in the wrong way, thus endangering their security.”

Club Z (BG) /

EU must intervene now

The EU must do its utmost to prevent an outbreak of ethnic violence in Macedonia, the news website Club Z warns:

“The EU must take tougher action in Macedonia, if necessary through individual sanctions. However there are other instruments that it can use against VMRO, for example political isolation. The recognition of the new parliamentary speaker and his invitation to Brussels were a step in the right direction. Now the EU must recognise and actively support the election of a new government without a mandate from the president. ... The instrumentalisation of the ethnic tensions could quickly turn the political crisis into an ethnic one. To prevent that, the EU must be ready to intervene more resolutely. It must show that no matter who's in power, inciting ethnic violence in the Western Balkans is not an option.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

A country getting out of control

Macedonia is a powder keg right now, warns Kathimerini:

“ The country has been ungovernable since early December when a snap election was held to defuse the crisis. The economy has gone from bad to worse, all the principles of constitutional and parliamentary law have been undermined, political conflicts and ethnic hatred are coming to a head and the protagonists of these tensions remain intransigent. … The situation could get out of control. Many people fear the worst unless a viable political solution is found soon to avoid a head-on collision - a collision that must not acquire ethnic dimensions. The memories of the year 2001, when the country was just one step away from a civil war, are still fresh.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Gruevski's party playing with fire

Ex-prime minister Gruevski's nationalist VMRO party is clinging to power because it sees itself as the only legitimate representative of the Slavic-Macedonian nation, taz comments:

“Democracy was good as long as the strongest party could maintain its grip on power. But corruption caused its popular support to crumble. In response, it suppressed freedom of opinion, blocked the opposition and created a secret service state. The success of the Social Democrats in integrating the Slavic Macedonians, Albanians and Roma into a multinational opposition posed a major threat to the power of the VMRO. … The VMRO has gangs of thugs like the one that broke into parliament on Thursday, and it controls the secret service and the army. It will do everything in its power to divide its political opponents.”