Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said that Russia offers an alternative to the Euro-Atlantic integrations to Macedonia, as well as to other countries in the Balkans. In a press briefing, Chizhov was asked about the Russian position on the Macedonian political crisis and the recent incident that erupted over the attempt to appoint Talat Xhaferi as Parliament Speaker.
“What could Russia offer? Of course, there is always an alternative to Euro-Atlantic integration, as some countries are contemplating, others chose not to. But of course, I will not say that the Euro-Atlantic path is the only one available for any country of the Balkans, or any other. Unlike the US and the EU we are not interfering in this political crisis. We believe that the ultimate goal is to preserve Macedonia as a single country, to preserve its Constitution and allow the political forces to agree on how to proceed. My personal understanding is that there should probably be a new round of elections in Macedonia”, Ambassador Chizhov said.
During the political crisis in Macedonia, Russia has often accused the United States and the European Union of supporting the left wing SDSM party, culminating with the incident last week, after which Russia pointed to the quick decision by the US and the EU to recognize Xhaferi. Recently, Chizhov said that Russia is looking at the content of the Tirana platform in Macedonia, and if it is implemented, Russia may ask for similar minority rights arrangements for some of the Baltic countries which have large Russian populations. According to Chizhov, the Tirana platform goes much beyond what was agreed in the 2001 Ohrid framework agreement and said it is against the current constitutional order of Macedonia and is damaging to the country.
Chizhov added that the election of Xhaferi is clearly in violation of the Macedonian Parliament rules and reminded the journalists that Xhaferi has a long history as a combatant in armed conflicts. “When the next morning the European Union puts out a statement in support of those developments, that, I am afraid, was not conducive to alleviating the tensions and promoting a peaceful outcome of the crisis”, Ambassador Chizhov said.