EU Council Presses Reforms on Macedonia
The EU Council, which met in Luxembourg on Tuesday, urged Macedonia's sparring leaders to focus on resolving the country's ongoing political crisis and start implementing a set of urgent reforms.
Reforms are required "in relation to systemic rule of law issues confirmed by or arising out of the current crisis, including in relation to breaches of fundamental rights, judicial freedom, media freedom, elections, corruption, politicisation of state institutions and state/party blurring and failures of oversight", the Council said.
The conclusions reflect the findings of a recently published European Commission report, which listed much the same reforms as urgently required.
The Council said it will closely monitor implementation of the set priorities. The first assessment of the steps taken by Macedonia will be in July at the meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council.
In addition, the Council urged "a thorough and independent investigation of the material revealed [by the opposition] and any criminal wrongdoing, with full regard for due process, the principle of the independence of the judiciary and the presumption of innocence".
Macedonia is in the throes of a deep political crisis that centres on claims of mass illegal surveillance.
The opposition Social Democrats led by Zoran Zaev accuse Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his government of masterminding the surveillance of over 20,000 people and are demanding that he and his entire government resign.
Gruevski has insisted that compromising tapes of officials' conversations, which have been released in batches by the opposition since February, were "created" by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilise...
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