MEP and one of the mediators of the Przino Agreement, Richard Howitt in an interview for “Meta”, said that responsibility of the future of Macedonia is in the hands of the Macedonians politicians. He noted that the country is in a dangerous and unstable condition, and that politicians in Skopje, after yesterday’s warnings from Brussels, should reconsider in which direction they will continue to run the country.
- President Ivanov in the address to the nation accused the international community for interfering in domestic affairs, and warned the ambassadors to be careful whit their actions and the statements. The same can be heard by the governing party. How do Brussels react to this?
The politicians of the country themselves have chosen to pursue a path aimed at membership of the European Union and of NATO, which entail cooperation and negotiations based on mutual respect, but adhering to common standards necessary for all members of these common organisations. The joint EU statement yesterday made clear that political responsibility for resolving the problems lays with the Macedonian parties themselves, but that the MEPs and Commissioner remain available and engaged to assist.
- The last attempt to save the Przino Agreement failed. Does this mean that the agreement is dead?
It’s not for the European Union to decide that, but our statement clearly used the word ‘breakdown’. My own hope is that the commitments contained within the agreement can still be adhered to including annulment of the amnesties to enable the Special Prosecutor to continue her work unimpeded, the further media reforms promised, and the audit of the voters’ list according to a methodology acceptable to all parties.
- In the joint statement with Commissioner Hahn and the MPs it was stated that there will be consequences for anyone breaking the Agreement. Is the withdrawing of the candidate status, and the blacklisting of politicians, on the table, or is the EU, once again go soft and just give a conditioned recommendation? If the government decides to go on with the elections on the 5th of June, will the new government be recognized by the EU?
I will not comment on any specific actions being considered, but hope that the phrase ‘serious consequences’ will have been properly heard and understood, and that political actors in the country will now heed the warnings and change direction. It is a matter of public record that the European Council last December agreed that the positive recommendation to start EU accession talks would be reviewed in the light of the conduct of elections according to the commitments of the Przino Agreement, and equally a matter of record that the European Commissioner warned that elections in the current circumstances would not be recognised by the European Union. It is reasonable for people in the country to draw their own conclusions from these public statements.
- Do you plan to come to Macedonia and facilitate another political deal?
The country is in a dangerous and unstable position and our joint statement appealed for there to be a peaceful response, and support for those elements of civil society who want democracy and pluralism within their own country. Each of us involved in the mediation are sincerely committed to the country, its people and its European perspective, and we deeply regret the retrograde steps which have occurred. We have expressed our readiness to act further and we remain fully engaged, as do our diplomatic representatives in the country itself. But I repeat that the responsibility to take the initiative is in the country itself and, otherwise, the actions we may be forced to take may be in Brussels rather than in Skopje.”