PM Zaev calls for snap elections after EU talks are declined



North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Saturday called for a snap parliamentary election after the European Union declined to give his country a date to start talks on joining the bloc.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday led a group of leaders who blocked opening talks with Albania and North Macedonia, despite concerns over increasing Chinese and Russian influence in the Balkans.

“I’m disappointed and angry and I know our people feel the same,” Zaev told a news conference, calling the decision not to open entry talks a “historic mistake”.

“There is no time to lose and that is why my suggestion is to organise fast early parliamentary elections. We need your (citizens’) view,” Zaev said.

Parliament has to approve any snap election, but Zaev’s coalition has a majority and the opposition also backs an early poll. Zaev said party leaders would discuss the issue on Sunday evening with President Stevo Pendarovski.

After Skopje signed the Prespes agreement with Greece’s former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in June 2018, the former Yugoslav republic had expected to be granted a date to start entry talks with the EU.

Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras took to Twitter saying: “The European Council’s decision to refuse to start accession negotiations with North Macedonia is a message of weakness and defeat for the European edifice.”

Tsipras also noted that “European values are sometimes stronger in the Balkans than in Brussels,” underlining that “we will continue to struggle for the future and unity of Europe. We owe it to our peoples”.

*Main Source: Reuters