Thousands revolt over ‘EU meddling’ in Macedonian elections

Thousands protested outside the EU delegation embassy in Macedonia, amid allegations that the Brussels bloc has ‘chosen their leaders’.

Thousands of furious Macedonians took to the streets yesterday in anger over alleged EU interference in country’s elections.

Following weeks of pressure from the EU, the Macedonian Assembly announced that Talat Xhaferi had been elected as the speaker of its parliament.

In response, protesters in the country’s capital of Skopje said the European bloc had “issued an order to choose our leaders”.

The furious demonstration comes after months of political turmoil in the country, which has been without a government since December last year.

In captured footage, several protesters clashed with riot police in violent scenes.

The mass protests yesteday took place just two weeks after a group of nationalists stormed the country’s parliament over the the proposed election of Mr Xhaferi.

VMRO, the conservative, Russian-backed party, won elections last year but did not secure enough votes to govern outright.

In recent weeks, a coalition of social democratic, ethnic Albanian parties agreed a power-sharing deal – including the election of Talat Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian.

The opposition-led coalition had the strong backing of diplomats in Brussels.

Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, met with Talat Xhaferi last week to show her support.

Macedonia is in the midst of European Union accession talks and is widely expected to be the next country to join the bloc.

Protesters claimed the election of Mr Xhaferi was a “coup” by the EU while others said the new government was “illegal”.

One of the protest leaders, Bogdan Ilievski, said: “We’ve been ignored for 60 days. We will continue to come.

“We have to continue our battle, we don’t have another country.”

In the past two weeks, leaders in Russia and Hungary have also accused the EU of meddling in the Balkan state.

Peter Szijjarto, the Hungarian Foreign Minister, said far-away foreign countries decided the country’s voting timetable.

Mr Szijjarto added: “Macedonia’s example clearly shows the dangers of external intervention in the life of a country.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also blamed Brussels’ “gross interference” in the country’s internal affairs for sparking the political crisis in the first place.

A spokesman described the chaos as the “unceremonious manipulation of the will of the citizens with the aim of removing the legitimate government from power”.