Brussels no longer has the leverage necessary to impose a peaceful transfer of power in Skopje.
In his mission to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Monday, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, failed to persuade President Gjorge Ivanov to grand the opposition a mandate to form a government.
Skopje remains rudderless since December 2016.
The Social Democratic opposition has secured a parliamentary majority, but President Ivanov does not want to give the opposition a mandate to form a government, facilitating a peaceful transfer of power after a decade of an uninterrupted nationalist rule by VMRO-DPMNE.
President Ivanov told Donald Tusk that he was determined to prevent the “detrimental consequences” of transferring power to the opposition leader, Zoran Zaev. His objection is founded on the argument that the opposition constitutes a threat to national unity.
Zoran Zaev has agreed to recognize Albanian as a second official language of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where Albanian-speakers constitute 25% of the population.
President Ivanov met with President Tusk but avoided a meeting with EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, who has for an electoral level playing field and a peaceful transfer of power. The former Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, was forced to resign in 2015 after revelations of a widespread surveillance scandal, longstanding corruption allegations, an economic crisis, and pressure from Brussels, not least by Commissioner Hahn.
But, the ruling party is now fighting tooth and nail to retain power.
The parliamentary group of VMRO DPMNE is trying to stall the election of a parliamentary speaker, which would force the President to give the opposition a mandate to form a government. Without a clear majority in parliament, there is little scope for a compromise between VMRO and the opposition.