Political Earthquake in Skopje Pushed Residents in Scuffles with Police

Time: 12:07 a.m. CEST

by Aleksandra Dukovska

A day after the controversial decision of the President of Republic of Macedonia, Gjorgje Ivanov to grant blanket pardon for 56 former and current state officials, reactions are not halting. Instead, social media brings more updates for scheduled protests after the decision in the following days. Some of the pardoned officials were flabbergasted and refuted Ivanov’s decision.

Last night first reactions came of the non-governmental organizations that protested with eggs throwing to the people’s office, a space for the president and contacts with the residents. Deployed police in the center of Skopje patiently stud near the office. But, when protesters tried to reach the VMRO-DPMNE headquarters in Skopje, riot police officers deployed fast and stopped citizens to approach the building.

What will you say? 

It began and ended peacefully tonight’s protest against the President of the Republic of Macedonia Gjorgje Ivanov’s decision to stop all processes among politicians in Macedonia to give unity for the majority community in the country, the Macedonians. But, somewhere between the beginning of the protests and its ends, police clashed momentarily and scuffled with residents who wanted to approach to the headquarters of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party.

The protest began peacefully, but part of the gathered residents decided to continue the protest in front of the VMRO-DPMNE headquarters, a building which was recently finished in Skopje, as a part of the city renovations in the Baroque style.

Police thwarted residents in their intention to approach the building deploying strong riot police cordon close to the square outside the building. In a few moments, citizens and police clashed, but police cordon was not breached. A protester questioned police and said to them: “What will you say one if questioned who you defend. I am here to protect the Constitution of Republic of Macedonia,” a woman said to the shield members of the riot police.

Political earthquake

The political turbulence started on Tuesday when the President Gjorgje Ivanov addressed the population in Macedonia, announcing he decided “to terminate all criminal proceedings against the government and opposition.”

As Ivanov said, his decision, on which he did not consult anyone, “takes effect immediately.” “Aware of the consequences for me, but also with a strong belief that wearing a decision on the stability of the country, I decided to end this agony in which is Macedonia. According to all the constitutional powers, it is adopted a decision to carry out a general end of all procedures between politicians and their counterparts from the opposing sides,” Ivanov said. One of the decisions is related to amnesty.

Former state representatives and high-ranking police and intelligence community officials are on the list published by country Official Gazette after Ivanov’s decision. The list includes names of the former president of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski, former Prime minister Nikola Gruevski, president of Social Democratic Union Zoran Zaev. Overall, the list contains 56 names with blanket pardons issued by the president.

The list contains the name of newly appointed prosecutors for the Prosecution for intercepted conversation, affair that created political earthquake in Macedonia since last year. Former president of the state reacted and called the president Ivanov “to change his decision and to erase his name and surname of it,” Crvenkovski reacted with a statement published in the local media. Zaev requested resignation of Ivanov and said “If that not happens he would bring the state on the edge of explosion.”

The international community reacted sharply to Ivanov’s decision. Both, the EU and U.S. challenged the rule of law in the country. European Commissioner Johannes Hahn reacted on Twitter with a post saying “Today’s actions of President are not in line with my understanding of the  of law.” Hahn who signed July 15 agreement with four political presidents last year pledged for “all political parties to get back to the negotiating table and work for reforms.” The United States Ambassador Jess Baily requested Special Prosecution Office and the courts to continue with the work, saying, “Blanket pardon without due process protects corrupt politicians and their associates.”

Since 2005, Macedonia is the candidate for the membership in the European Union, waiting for the beginning of the negotiations. In 2001 the country experienced conflicted, which ended with the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement and constitutional changes after internationally facilitated diplomatic talks. In many of the annual reports, EU reprimands Macedonia for blurring activities between party and the state.

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