End of an Era? Macedonia Online
Zoran Zarev

Macedonia, this small country on the Balkans has been facing huge internal political problems since April 2014. That was the point when the biggest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SDSM) with Zoran Zaev as its leader started boycotting the Parliament, alleging electoral fraud in the last year’s polls.

What followed was an immense wiretapping scandal, where the opposition accused the government of phone tapping over 20,000 Macedonian citizens including judges, politicians, journalists as well as foreign diplomats. The recordings revealed a number of major frauds and controversies being connected to the government. Prime Minister Gruevski denied the allegations, claiming that those were fabricated and created only in order to destabilize the country. What followed was a spring full of protests. The Macedonian citizens demanded democracy and the opposition wanted Gruevski to resign.

The crisis reached its climax when one of the Macedonian cities, Kumanovo was attacked by a group led by five Kosovans, according to the officials, causing the death of eight policemen. The opposition and the government blamed each other for deliberately destabilizing the country.

After unsuccessful negotiations, finally the leaders of the four biggest political parties reached an agreement in R. Macedonia on 15 July. An independent prosecutor will be named by the end of September in order to investigate the opposition’s claims that is the government is standing behind the massive wiretapping scandal.

As an outcome, the current Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Grueski, will resign by the end of January 2016, and snap elections will be held on 24 April 2016. The opposition party, SDSM will return to the Parliament on 1 September and nominate an interim minister of interior, and in addition to that a new public prosecutor will be elected.

The crisis has had disastrous consequences on the Macedonian public and private sector, the country’s stability and the future Euro-Atlantic perspectives. According to the European Union Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who mediated the talks on 15 July, the agreement reached is in the interest of the country and its citizens.

So the first step has been done, what remains is the successful implementation of the agreement to be expected. Hopefully, some important lessons have been learned and the Macedonian political and economic system will recover as quickly as possible.