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The PES extremely concerned about growing tensions in FYR Macedonia

The PES is greatly alarmed by the clashes that took place in Kumanovo, FYR Macedonia on Saturday 9 May, killing 8 police officers and injuring 37. The incident took place in a climate of rising tensions, as opposition party SDSM has been releasing evidence indicating widespread phone tapping on part of the government. In the last few days, thousands of people took to the streets to show their dissatisfaction with the current government.

Sergei Stanishev, PES President reacted: ‘We deeply deplore these killings and send our deepest condolences to all those affected by this loss. The clashes occurred in a context of growing protests against the government. We therefore want to urge all parties involved to remain calm. We should at all costs avoid adding an ethnic dimension to the already tense situation in the country.

‘The Macedonian government should take all necessary measures to avoid any further bloodshed and call for national unity. It hasn’t been long since our region was ridden by violence and conflict. We should take lessons from the past and prevent the situation from spiralling out of control.’

The PES also wants to show solidarity with PES Associate member SDSM who by unveiling material that indicates that the government has been wiretapping more than 20,000 people, triggered the democratic voices in society. Zoran Zaev, Socijaldemokratski Sojuz na Makedonija SDSM party leader, has been officially charged with ‘one continuous criminal act of unauthorized wiretapping and audio recording’, and ‘violence against representatives of the highest authorities’. The fact that SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev was unable to join the PES Western Balkan Conference in Sofia, shows the graveness of the situation.

Kristian Vigenin, Chair of the PES Western Balkan Task Force added: ‘We strongly believe that FYR Macedonia has a future in the European Union. But for the country to continue on the path to EU integration the government has to stay clear from using authoritarian means to control the media and the judiciary. Both the EU and the US have shown increasing concern about the growing injustice in the country. The international community should send an unequivocal message to the Macedonian authorities to deliver on the fundamental requirements and democratic standards of the enlargement package.

It is high time that the government engages in an active and inclusive dialogue to overcome the current deadlock holding Macedonian citizens hostage. We also want to urge the EPP to take up this issue with their associate member and governing party VMRO DPMNE.

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