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Commissioner Hahn and three MEPs arrive to meet political leaders on Tuesday

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European Commissioner Johannes Hahn and three members of the European Parliament that have mediated in Macedonia in the past are expected to visit the country on Tuesday for a round of meetings with political leaders. MIA correspondent in Brussels reports that Hahn and the parliamentarians Ivo Vajgl, Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein will come with a main goal to persuade President Gjorge Ivanov to give the mandate to form a Government to SDSM leader Zoran Zaev.

Zaev collected 67 out of 120 signatures in Parliament and demands the mandate, but Ivanov refused his request, citing the fact that the coalition agreement is based on the Tirana platform of Albanian nationalist demands which the President finds unconstitutional. Ivanov canceled a scheduled visit to Australia to remain in the country in the tense political situation.

European spokesperson Maja Kocijancic told MIA that Commissioner Hahn and the three members of the European Parliament will convey the firm position of the EU to respect the outcome of the elections on December 11th, and to allow for a quick formation of a “reform oriented Government that will continue to implement the Przino agreement”.

Hahn also met with Macedonian Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev at a regional summit is Sarajevo on Thursday. Kocijancic also said that at this meeting, Hahn warned against inflaming inter-ethnic tensions and moves that undermine good neighborly relations. The VMRO-DPMNE party joined President Ivanov in condemning the Tirana platform as unacceptable meddling of a foreign country in Macedonia’s internal affairs, and called on Zaev to renounce it. VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski even offered to support a Zaev led minority Government for a set period of time with all the VMRO-DPMNE votes, and to allow the continuation of what he called staged criminal cases against VMRO-DPMNE officials, if only SDSM declares itself against the Tirana platform which calls for changes to the Macedonian national emblems, language and a number of other concessions.

Opponents of the Tirana platform have taken to the streets for days in the tens of thousands and have called on SDSM to step back from its planned coalition with three smaller parties that represent ethnic Albanians, saying it would be the first time the majority of ethnic Macedonians are not represented in a Government and decisions are made against their wishes. VMRO-DPMNE calls for a repeat of the elections, saying that SDSM voters did not know that their party will accept a document such as the Tirana platform and only learnt about it after the vote. Polls have shown a drop in SDSM support after the party accepted the Tirana platform and a rise in support for VMRO-DPMNE, and the country is supposed hold municipal elections in Spring anyway, so VMRO-DPMNE calls to use them to hold another round of general elections as well.

Asked whether the arrival of Commissioner Hahn and the three members of Parliament should be seen as a step into opening new political negotiations, possibly leading to a third installment of the so-called Przino political agreements, spokesperson Kocijancic said that the EU believes that the Przino agreement should be implemented