NEWS

Hahn: Polls will turn Skopje away from EU road

TAGS: EU, FYROM Referendum

With the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) seemingly heading for early elections, European Union Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said on Friday that resorting to early polls will only derail the country’s EU course.

“New elections will only mean turning away from the road for the beginning of EU accession, which is planned for next year”, Hahn told Austrian paper Kurier on Friday, adding that these concerns have already been relayed to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

The neighboring country has plunged into a political crisis of sorts after last Sunday’s referendum backed the name deal with Greece though the low voter turnout led main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE to say the agreement is “dead” while the country’s electoral commission said it was “invalid.”

Hahn, however, dismissed the view that the referendum was unsuccessful. “It is unusual to get a higher than 90 percent support, with the turnout only being 37 percent, but it is obvious that the opposition successfully called for a boycott,” he said.

The deal will go to FYROM’s parliament later this month and Zaev has embarked on a campaign to secure a two third thirds parliament majority for its ratification.

“Only eight or nine members of the opposition are needed for the adoption of the agreement,” Hahn said. “If they, including the opposition, say they want EU and NATO membership, they need to live up to that decision,” Hahn, said.

Meanwhile, divisions in FYROM intensified after a court rejected an appeal by former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, a former VMRO-DPMNE leader, against a two-year prison sentence he was handed in May.

Gruevski said the sentence was “political pressure and political repression.”

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