The European Commission is prepared to impose a first wave of sanctions on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, BNE Intel reports.
Brussels has reportedly decided to withhold two expected payments to the tune of €77 million (27 plus 50) in pre-accession funding, according to local media. The government denies this is a case of sanctions and suggests that the disruption of funding is a result of the EU cutting down on pre-accession funding as such.
Since 2015 the EU is trying to facilitate the country’s transition to a political level-playing field. The credibility of Nikola Gruevski’s administration was tarnished in February 2015, following the revelation of a far-reaching wiretapping scandal; apparently, Gruevski was eavesdropping on 20,000 politicians, journalists, and NGO activists.
As a result of EU mediation, political parties in FYROM reached the so-called Przino agreement in the summer of 2015, which set a road map for political transition. However, the government has been obstructing the process by presenting various obstacles to opposition party campaigning, including access to media.
no rule of law
Although the parliament in Skopje dissolved in April 6, the opposition is boycotting elections. The main opposition Social Democrats vow to boycott elections until the Constitutional Court allows the office of the special prosecutor to investigate fully the wiretapping scandal. In April, the President of FYROM, Gjorge Ivanov, provided a blanket amnesty to 56 politicians, which he claims was the only way to overcome the political impasse. Following international outcry, he was forced to revoke the amnesty.
On Friday, July 1st, the EU Ambassador in Skopje called for parties to relaunch political negotiations as soon as possible to resolve the current political deadlock. He also made clear that rule of law has “suffered setbacks” in the country referring to Ivanov’s amnesty.
Meanwhile, the US is in effect creating a “black list” for politicians that will no longer be entitled to a US visa, Alsat M reports.
US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is expected to arrive in Skopje on July 11, opposition sources told BIRN. Nuland will attempt to restart negotiations with the help of EU’s ambassador, Aivo Orav.
Membership negotiations between the EU and FYROM opened in 2009, but have stalled due to the failure of Skopje to reach an agreement with Athens over a long standing name dispute.
(BIRN, BNI Intell, 24vesti, Alsat M, Kapital)