As Stavreski and Janakieski treated Russia on Stip pipeline, Macedonia picked up the bill

Skopje, 15 October, 2018 - 14:42 (META) 

With the agreement with Russia, to cover its share of the debt of the former USSR through the construction of the Klechovce-Stip pipeline, former Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski and former Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Janakieski wrote off the entire debt while Macedonia paid for its gas pipeline alone.

This was the conclusion from the Public Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) in its explanation in their new investigation “Podarok” (Gift), which, together with five others, was launched last week.

According to the investigation, Stavreski, Janakieski, together with Krste Miladinov, the Director of Macedonian Energy Resources (MER) AD Skopje, in the period between January 2012 – July 2014, claimed an illegal property benefit for the Russian company OAO Stroytransgas from Moscow, in the amount of two billion and nine million denars , ie close to 33 million euros. These are the losses in the state budget, state the Public Prosecutor’s Office (SPO).

Stavreski and Janakieski, as representatives of the then Macedonian government, on June 19, 2010, concluded an agreement to repay Russia’s debt to Macedonia in the amount of 60.56 million US dollars through the delivery of goods, works and services. Then they agreed to include all the debt to build the Klechovce-Block Station 5 gas pipeline for a total amount of 75.7 million US dollars, or 55.64 million euros, with Russia participating in 80% of the construction and Macedonia with 20%.

According to the SJO, the ex-ministers made the deal despite a previous feasibility study that deduced it would cost between 30 and 35 million euros for the construction of the Klecovce-Stip pipeline, which is 36 kilometers longer than planned.

Despite having prior knowledge, they concluded the deal on the Russian debt, which made the Russian company a profit of 32.66 million euros due to the unfavorable agreement, and in fact, Macedonia paid for the pipeline alone, says the SPO.

Zakharova: Western countries want to bring Macedonia into NATO at any cost

Moscow, 4 October, 2018 - 15:11 (META) 

The West, as before, is trying to drag Macedonia into NATO, even after the referendum on the name change, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at a weekly briefing in Moscow.

Zakharova said that “the obvious goal of the Western countries is to bring Macedonia into NATO at any cost”.

According to Zakharova, Russia’s position remains principled and unchanged, and that it is a long-term solution to the problem that the countries themselves can come to, without interference and pressure from the outside, because it turned out that this does not work.

“If we are talking about non-interference in internal affairs, then we must not agitate “for” or “against” if we talk about referendums. If we talk about non-interference in the internal affairs and respect of the law, including international ones, then the head of a bloc of states must not speak about a decision that should be passed by the Parliament of a country,” said the spokeswoman for the Russian MFA.

She also said she was surprised by the findings of the OSCE commission, which monitored the referendum in Macedonia.

“The great propaganda campaign by the West is presented in a positive way. It’s not normal. What would happen if it was Moscow urging the Macedonians to vote? It would immediately be understood as interfering in the interior affairs of a country. These are not just double standards, but abuse of social rules and norms,” added Zakharova.

Russian MFA: In the referendum, solutions imposed from the outside were boycotted

Moscow, 2 October, 2018 - 12:00 (META) 

The result of the referendum in Macedonia shows that voters have decided to boycott solutions imposed from outside, said the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“Leading politicians from NATO and the European Union were directly involved in the propaganda campaign, not refraining from interfering in the country’s internal affairs. Despite the fact that two thirds of the citizens of Macedonia did not support the Prespa Agreement, the results of the referendum were immediately welcomed by EU and NATO leaders, as well as from Washington. They are determined to include Skopje in NATO despite the opposite attitude of Macedonian citizens,” the Russia Foreign Ministry said.

Moscow, as they point out, continues to advocate a principled position that a long-term solution can be found only between the two countries, without interference from outside, and exclusively within the legal system and with broad public support.

“It is clear that the Prespa Agreement does not meet these criteria. It is contradictory to international law and the Macedonian Constitution, which was repeatedly emphasized by President Gjorge Ivanov, including his address to the UN General Assembly. Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is closely monitoring the situation. We think that in accordance with paragraph 3 of UN Security Council Resolution 845, the results of the negotiations between Skopje and Athens should be considered in the Security Council,” reads the statement.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Bazdnikin said in an interview with “Sputnik” that the fact of the matter is that the results of the vote confirmed that the referendum was void, given that only 36.9 per cent of the voters voted in the referendum, to get 50% plus one voter.

Stoltenberg: Russia is obstructing Macedonia’s accession into NATO and EU

Washington, 17 September, 2018 - 13:17 (META) 

NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, accused Russia that it obstructs Macedonia’s accession into the Alliance.

-Russia is trying to prevent Macedonia’s accession into NATO, similar to the situation in Montenegro where we saw an unsuccessful coup to overthrow the government – said the Secretary General during his speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

According to Stoltenberg, there are many examples of Russia trying to interfere in the political processes in various NATO countries and partner countries.

Mattis arrives in Skopje over possible Russian interference in referendum

Skopje, 17 September, 2018 - 13:17 (META) 

US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis landed at the Skopje International Airport this morning and was welcomed by Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska and US Ambassador Jess Bailey.

According to the announced agenda, Mattis is expected to meet Radmila Sekerinska, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and President Gjorge Ivanov today.

Yesterday, Eric Pahon, a spokesman for the Pentagon said that Mattis will urge Macedonian citizens to vote in the referendum and will also emphasize the five million dollars provided annually by the United States for security support.

“Russia seeks to convince the Macedonians that the West is going to abandon them, that Russia is the stable influence in the region. That is just not true. Changing Macedonia’s name and bringing the country into the alliance, would reduce Moscow’s influence. Macedonian accession to NATO is one of Russia’s worst nightmares,” Pahon told the New York Times.

The article by the American newspaper on Mattis’s visit quotes various Western diplomats, who say 40 new sites appear daily on Facebook to encourage people to boycott the referendum. These sites, which originate outside the country, fit into the pattern of Russian influence seen in other elections, say diplomats.

When Mattis announced the visit to Macedonia last week, he said he is coming to support Macedonia ahead of the upcoming referendum on the name and EU and NATO membership, but also to express concerns over possible Russian interference in the vote.

“It worries me … That kind of hardship that Russia is practicing from Estonia to the United States, from Ukraine and now to Macedonia, always adapts to a specific situation and has always been unacceptable,” said Mattis, when announcing the visit.

Zaev: I have no evidence of Russian influence in Macedonia

Skopje, 17 September, 2018 - 11:40 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev replied to a question at the conference dedicated to media freedom in the region and said that he has no evidence of Russian influence in Macedonia.

_I have no evidence of any Russian influence in Macedonia. The Russian Federation is a friend of the Republic of Macedonia and there is nothing that stands in the way of Macedonia’s accession in the EU, but it is openly opposed against NATO. If there is any evidence of interference by using fake news I will publicly share them – said Zaev.

He reminded that there is no alternative for Macedonia but EU and NATO and that Macedonia wants to have “Friendly relations with all countries.”

Zaev stressed that he is aware of the information for networks of profiles that are spreading fake news on social media including traditional media, and stated that he hopes that we “can get to know the details,” but that there are no indication of countries spreading fake news.

The Prime Minister warned that “the misuse in the form of spreading disinformation can easily reflect on the stability and it doesn’t represent freedom of speech.”

The question was posted because of the statement that was given by Pentagon’s spokesperson, Eric Peon tot he New York Times before today’s visit of the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis to Macedonia, which said: “Macedonia’s membership in NATO is one of Russia’s worst nightmares.”

Zaev said that the US Secretary of Defense, Mattis will come to encourage the citizens to use their democratic right to vote and expects to exchange experiences with him as two partner countries.”

Palmer: I expect that Russia will work against the Prespa agreement

Brussels, 12 September, 2018 - 17:21 (META) 

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the United States of America, Matthew Palmer stated in an interview for the portal “European Western Balkans“ that he expects Russia will work against the Prespa agreement.

He also said that USA and Russia have very different ambitions in the Balkans and that the USA supports the ” integration of the region into EU and Euro-Atlantic structures, we support the rule of law European norms harmony between and amongst the nations” while “Russia’s vision of its strategic goals on the Western Balkans are built around distrusts, disorder and opposition to this integration”.

In 2016, Russia attempted to overturn government in Montenegro because it was moving towards membership in the NATO. I expect Russia to work against the Prespan Agreement in Macedonia. I except Russians to work against an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. Moscow feels that its interests are best served by friction and distrust, the US believes that our interest are best served by order and a shared understanding of common future.” said Palmer

When asked about the perspectives of NATO’s enlargement in the Western Balkans, Palmer said that the membership of Montenegro into NATO is a huge advance forward and that he looks forward to Macedonia’s future membership.

“We look forward to welcoming the country that will be North Macedonia as the 30th number in the NATO alliance,” said Palmer including “the invitation that the Alliance issued in July was clear and unambiguous” and that “there is a path to NATO membership that is open for Macedonia in relatively short order.”

Palmer also said that “it requires that the Prespan Agreement enters into force” and he has expressed hope that the Macedonian citizens will accept the Agreement on the 30th of September after which Macedonia will have to make constitutional changes, and Greece will ratify it.”

“And when the Agreement enters into force, I believe that North Macedonia will move forward quickly to NATO membership” stressed Palmer.

Trade with Russia fell by 13%, reasons are not political but economic

Skopje, 6 September, 2018 - 19:09 (META) 

Trade between Macedonia and the Russian Federation has declined by 12.7 percent, less than $ 9.3 million compared to the same period last year, which was pointed out at the forum of the Macedonian-Russian Chamber of Commerce and one-week training on the topic “Peculiarities on the Russian market and a strategy of success (potential, opportunities, realization) “.

It is also worrying that Macedonian exports decreased by almost a quarter compared to the same period last year (24.36 percent).

“This transitional six-monthly reduced volume of trade with the Russian Federation is not due to some political reasons or pressures, given the sensitive phase of mutual relations between the two countries. It is solely due to economic reasons. Macedonian exporters are susceptible to vastly increasing competition on the Russian market from producers from other countries. There is a painstaking adjustment to withstand and retain the position of Russian importers. For example, a good part of the reduced Macedonian exports during this period is due to the drastically reduced ranking of Macedonian early cabbages, as the Russian market was flooded with this vegetable from Iran and other countries with far lower prices – said Georgi Dika, president of the Macedonian-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

Businessmen are recommended to perform with a developed marketing strategy on the largest fifth market in the world.

“In Moscow there are products from Macedonia and we estimate that they have a great chance of going on sale on the Russian market. But there must be a balance between the price and the quality of products, and special attention needs to be paid to it,” emphasized Viktor Alekseev, a sales expert at “Macedonian House”.

Putin to visit Serbia either in October or November

Belgrade, 4 September, 2018 - 16:18 (META) 

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, will visit Serbia either in October or November this year, announced today the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade, Alexandar Chepurin.

-We expect that President Putin will visit Serbia either in October or in November – said Chepurin during his visit to the building of the railroad tunnel Chortanovci, that is part of the railroad line Belgrade- Budapest and is financed with a Russian loan for modernizing the railroad network.

Previously, Moscow announced that Putin has accepted the invitation to visit Serbia, but no date was announced. The Serbian media speculated with potential dates such as 1st of November – the centenary of the liberation of Belgrade during WWI or the 11th of November – the centenary of the signing of the armistice treaty that ended WWI.

Putin visited Belgrade in 2014 when he attended the military parade during the 70th anniversary of the city’s liberation during WWII.

Spasovski: The situation is stable, the forces who want the referendum to fail are minor

Skopje, 23 August, 2018 - 13:15 (META) 

Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski says that in the pre-referendum period, the situation in the country is stable, the institutions are operational, but says there are forces that see opportunities, through a breach of security, to achieve some of their goals, which is to oppose membership in NATO and European Union.

In an interview with MIA, he stressed that these are still minor forces that do not amount to destabilization.

“The geostrategic position of Macedonia brings certain risks and challenges, but they are prevented, amongst other things, by efficient functioning of the exchange of data and sharing experiences with the friendly services who are cooperating with the Republic of Macedonia. The Republic of Macedonia has many friends who support, first of all, to maintain the stability in the country, to guarantee security – the integrity of the state,” emphasizes Spasovski

As to claims that foreign services are trying to “sabotage” the build up to the referendum and Russian interference in “Macedonian affairs”, Spasovski says that Macedonia has a straight forward attitude as well as a national and vital interest to become a member of NATO and the EU. We does not want to interfere in other countries affairs, neither in the region or beyond, but we will not allow anyone to impose their interests on us.

“Yes, certain clusters of political structures, individuals, etc. are taking place, who want to oppose the integration of the Republic of Macedonia into NATO and the EU. Yes, there are such structures, there are such individuals in the Republic of Macedonia who believe that in order to meet some of their personal interests, they would use this moment to oppose membership in the EU and NATO, and by doing so, boost their political reputation. However, none of these forces are ideologically tied, they do not have an alternative to the processes that are happening in the country. Therefore, I think that Macedonia is strong enough within its intentions to realize its goal, which is to be a member of NATO and the EU,” adds Spasovski.