On this day of mourning and on behalf of the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the European Union, we expressed today our condolences to Prime Minister Gruevski and the people of Macedonia for the tragic deaths of the brave police officers who were killed yesterday in and around Kumanovo, and we shared our sympathies for the suffering of the citizens of Kumanovo who were caught up in the violence. We offered to assist in any way that we can.
We join with citizens throughout the country and political leaders in denouncing violence. We welcome the President’s initiative to meet with all political parties, and we appeal to citizens to continue exercising restraint in response to the weekend’s tragedy, as well as calm in any group assembly in the coming weeks.
As well as discussing the events in Kumanovo in our meeting today with Prime Minister Gruevski, we have also reconfirmed the friendship of the people of our countries and organization with the people of Macedonia. We have long supported Macedonia’s efforts to join the EU and NATO, and as friends and partners we have also expressed our concerns about the ongoing political crisis.
We have specifically reiterated our concerns to the Prime Minister that his government has not made progress towards accounting for the many allegations of government wrongdoing arising from the disclosures. This continued inaction casts serious doubt on the Government of Macedonia’s commitment to the democratic principles and values of the Euro-Atlantic community. Continued failure to demonstrate this commitment with concrete action will undermine Macedonia’s progress towards EU and NATO membership.
We have also expressed our expectation that in the case of disclosures that reveal clearly unacceptable behavior, appropriate political and legal measures are taken against those responsible. In order to address institutional weaknesses highlighted by the disclosures, we call on the government to consider specific reforms, including on the integrity of the electoral system, media freedom, independence of the judiciary, freedom of speech and whistle-blower protection.
Finally, we continue to fully support the fundamental democratic right of citizens to assemble and peacefully protest, and we reiterate our appeal to all sides to refrain from violence. The peaceful exercise of democratic rights and rejecting aggressive acts towards fellow citizens – whether police officers or demonstrators – is a fitting tribute to the courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives in service to the people of Macedonia.
We will be meeting with Mr. Zaev and Mr. Ahmeti in the days ahead to share similar messages.