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21:15, 20 April 2018 Friday
19:19, 04 April 2017 Tuesday

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Macedonia accuses Albania of 'open interference'
Macedonia accuses Albania of 'open interference'

Macedonia has been mired in deep political upheaval for the past two years sparked by a wiretapping scandal. 

World Bulletin / News Desk

Macedonia on Tuesday said it had accused Albania of "open interference" with the Balkan country's ethnic Albanian minority in the midst of a deep political crisis.

Skopje had summoned Albania's ambassador on Monday to protest its neighbour's "open interference in Macedonia's internal affairs," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said Albania was trying to "change the constitutional order in Macedonia."

Ambassador Fatos Reka was warned against what Skopje called a "serious provocation to good neighbourly relations that we wish to maintain," the statement added.

The charges of interference stem from Macedonia's political standoff over the demands of the ethnic Albanians who make up around one quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million.

After several meetings in Tirana, held under the sponsorship of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Macedonia's main ethnic Albanian parties agreed on a platform of demands, requesting more rights.

After inconclusive December elections, their 20 lawmakers in parliament backed Social Democrat (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev, which seemed to have paved the way for him to take over power after a decade of rule by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, led by Nikola Gruevski, whom the rivals accuse of corruption.

But Gruevski, backed by President Gjorge Ivanov, has refused to give up after failing to form a new government.

Supporters of the conservatives have been peacefully protesting every evening for more than a month in Skopje and other towns.

The VMRO-DPMNE claims that ethnic Albanian demands put into question Macedonia’s national unity, especially calling for making Albanian an official language.

Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati on Monday criticised the "attempt by Gruevski and his political group to transform a democratic crisis into an ethnic crisis."

Macedonia's opposition has warned its conservative rivals that they are playing with fire by using the ethnic card in a bid to stay in power.

European Union President Donald Tusk visited Skopje on Monday, but failed to resolve the crisis, as did the bloc's Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn two weeks earlier.

"My position remains unchanged," Ivanov said on Monday.

"A government exposed to (ethnic blackmailing) would be unstable and would have harmful consequences."

The Social Democrats accuse Gruevski of having ordered the wiretapping of thousands of his rivals, including religious, media and other public figures.


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