Saturday, 16 December 2017 | News today: 0

Party talks have made good progress, one unnamed issue remains open

orav

The four main political parties completed their talks late on Wednesday evening, with European Union Ambassador Aivo Orav saying a lot of progress has been made, but that one unnamed issue remains outstanding. Parties are discussing implementing the agreement they reached last summer and organizing early elections.

– We’d like to say that quite remarkable work was done. Took quite a long time. Many issues were agreed, but there is still one issue that is pending so that unfortunately we were not able to reach, or the parties were not able to reach the agreement tonight. I hope that we will continue as soon as possible, Orav told reporters following the meeting without naming the issue where parties remain stuck.

Orav and US Ambassador Jess Baily take part in the talks between VMRO-­DPMNE, SDSM, DUI and DPA parties as mediators. SDSM raised the prospect of holding elections in early November, but VMRO-­DPMNE demands guarantees from the opposition party that this time they will take part in the vote, following their two refusals to field candidates which happened in April and June.

Once election date will be set, SDSM candidates will again be appointed to run several Government departments, giving them oversight several months ahead of the vote. Two main topics of discussion are media reforms, in which SDSM demands fines for media outlets that will report in a biased way, and examining the voting registry. VMRO­DPMNE refuses SDSM’s proposal for fines as introducing censorship, and has said they accept any checks on the electorate that SDSM sees as necessary.

SDSM have claimed that media bias and irregularities in the voting registry are behind their unprecedented losing streak in general, presidential and municipal elections. Polls show that the Conservative VMRO­DPMNE continues to have nearly a double lead over their Social­Democratic rivals, and VMRO insists that this is the real reason SDSM refuses to take part in elections. SDSM and their affiliated left wing NGO organizations have also demanded the creation of a special court, to go with the recently formed office of a Special Prosecutor, who is investigating the origin and the allegations contained in the wiretapping affair of 2015.

VMRO­DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski on Wednesday dismissed the demand for appointing a special court department as something that is outside of the agreement. VMRO­DPMNE objected to the work done by Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva who they claim has taken a partisan role to support SDSM, sits on cases that involve top SDSM officials, while aggressively promoting cases against VMRO­DPMNE.