Macedonia's Politicians Risk Sanctions, Observers Say

Diplomats and political analysts say that it is becoming increasingly certain that the US and European governments may soon resort to various sanctions against Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov and former Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski.

Ivanov and Gruevski are continuing to block the formation of an opposition-led government.

Political science professor and experienced Macedonian diplomat Gjorgi Spasov said that after the EU and the USA exhaust joint friendly efforts to persuade Ivanov and Gruevski to concede the victory of the opposition-led coalition, sanctions will be the next expected step.

"Apart from a ban on travelling to the United States and the seizing of Ivanov's, Gruevski's, and their business and political associates' properties ... they might also face international investigations for misusing money from EU funds, for involvement in international crime, and subsequently be subjected to international criminal inquiries," Spasov said.

He thinks that in parallel with this, Gruevski, whose party has been in power since 2006, will face, or is already facing an additional pressure from the European People's Party, EPP, to resign from the leadership of VMRO-DPMNE as the party could be expelled from EPP.

Speculation about possible sanctions increased after European Council President Donald Tusk failed to persuade Ivanov to end his blockade on Monday. The two had an hour-long tete-a-tete in Skopje.

The head of NGO the Centre for European Cooperation, Malinka Ristevska, said that if talks fail to yield results "it is likely that  other means will be resorted to. On the one hand, political isolation and on the other - sanctions."

Following Monday's...

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