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2015 Macedonian protests

2015 Macedonian protests
Date 5 May 2015 — ongoing (9 months, 1 week and 1 day)
Location Mostly in Skopje, Macedonia, and in some other parts of the country
Causes
  • Accusation of Zoran Zaev by police of spying and planning a coup[1]
  • Wiretapping involving Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski[2]
  • Police brutality[2]
Goals Force Prime Minister Gruevski and his cabinet to resign[3]
Result Several ministers resigned
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
Zoran Zaev
Opposition leader
Number

Unknown number of police officers


May 18:

30,000—90,000 government supporters[4][4][5][6]

May 5:
Around 2,000 protestors (in Skopje)[3]

May 17:
20,000+[7][8]
Casualties
May 5:
Between 10—38 policemen injured[2][3]
May 5:
At least 19 protestors injured[9]

In May 2015, protests occurred in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, against the incumbent Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his government.[2][3] Protests began following charges being brought up against Zoran Zaev, the opposition leader, who responded by alleging that Gruevski had 20,000 Macedonian officials and other figures wiretapped, and covered up the murder of a young man by a police officer in 2011.[9] A major protest occurred on May 5, seeing violent clashes between activists and police, with injuries on both sides. In the days afterward, the opposition claimed that more anti-government actions will occur, which they did later that month.[10] Several ministers, including the interior minister, resigned during the protests.[11] Gruevski himself refused to step down, saying on May 16 that "if I back down it would be a cowardly move ... I’ll face down the attacks.”[12]

Protests continued through the month, and a large gathering of anti-government protestors was held in Skopje on May 17.[12] The number of protestors that turned up on Sunday, May 17 is estimated in the tens of thousands (20,000+).[8] Zaev claimed that the number of attendees at the rally on Sunday was 100,000 or more.[13] On May 18, a large pro-government rally occurred of Gruevski's supporters, said to be in the tens of thousands.[5] Estimates put pro-government supporters at around 30,000.[6] On May 19, Gruevski and Zaev met for talks, with several members of the European Parliament also present, in Strasbourg. The negotiations lasted for twelve hours but resulted in no agreements. On his return flight to Macedonia, Gruevski's plane made an emergency landing in Zurich after decompression in the air occurred.[14][15]

Background

Tensions in the Republic of Macedonia have been present since the 2001 insurgency. Events escalated after the April 2014 general election, in which Nikola Gruevski and his ruling party defeated Zoran Zaev and his Social Democratic Union of Macedonia. Zaev stated that SDSM would not recognize the elections as legitimate and claimed that the government abused the system.[16] Later, the government accused Zaev of planning a coup on January 31, 2015, and conspiring with a foreign intelligence service. They claimed that they obtained documents in which he conspired with the British ambassador.[17] He responded by releasing information which alleged that Gruevski had 20,000 Macedonian citizens wiretapped[1] and covered up the murder of a young man after the election in 2011, amongst other claims.[9] The beginning of the protest further set back Macedonia on its path of joining the European Union, which it has been attempting to do since 2005.[18]

The event

Initial protests

Between 1,000—2,000 people showed up in a protest in Skopje on Tuesday, 5 May 2015. Protestors demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Gruevski and his cabinet. Police responded by clearing out the protest with tear gas.[19] A number of police officers were injured, with conflicting reports putting the figure between 10—38.[2][3] At least 19 protestors were injured.[9] Protests continued across the country, and a skirmish occurred on May 9 in the town of Kumanovo, northwestern Macedonia, between Albanian militants and Macedonian police. The skirmish resulted in several deaths.[20] This added on to the tensions, and Zaev said that he began negotiating with Albanian political parties.[10] On May 16, the government prepared for more actions as protests continued.[11] Gruevski stated to the pro-government Sitel TV on Saturday that "if I back down it would be a cowardly move. I’ll face down the attacks.”[12]

May 17

Large crowds gathered to protest on May 17, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Gruevski, who refused and said a rally of supporters will occur on May 18.[12] The number of protestors was estimated to be in the tens of thousands, more than 20,000.[8] Zaev claimed the number of protestors reached 100,000, and said that some of them would remain there for days until Gruevski resigns.[13] European Union diplomats offered to mediate a solution to the crisis.[5]

Counter-protest

Later, tens of thousands appeared on the streets on Monday, May 18, at a pro-government rally. The total count of pro-government supporters was estimated to be between 30,000 to 90,000. The rally appeared to be peaceful and no clashes occurred between the two.[4][6]

Negotiations

Gruevski and Zaev met in Strasbourg for talks on May 19, held for about twelve hours, along with several members of the European Parliament. They made no progress, and a new meeting was scheduled for a later date.[15]

Aftermath

Reactions

Domestic

Three government officials, two ministers and the intelligence chief, resigned during the protests.[11] Those three included Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska, Transport Minister Mile Janakieski and intelligence chief Saso Mijalkov, who is also the Prime Minister's cousin. In his resignation letter, Mijalkov said that he hoped it would "help in overcoming the political crisis imposed by the opposition".[21] Gruevski refused to step down, and said on May 16, "if I back down it would be a cowardly move. I’ll face down the attacks.”[12] Gruevski appeared at the head of a large pro-government rally on May 18 in Skopje, with tens of thousands showing up in support of the government.[22]

International

See also

References

  1. ^ a b MacDowall, Andrew (27 February 2015). "Fears for Macedonia's fragile democracy amid 'coup' and wiretap claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Thousnds in Macedonia Protest Alleged Police Brutality. ABC News. Published May 8, 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Macedonian protestors demand resignation of cabinet, clash with police. Reuters. Published May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c 'No bowing down': Thousands of pro-govt protestors rally for Macedonian PM. RT. Published May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Macedonia's embattled leader rallies supporters in show of force. The Star. Kole Casule. Published May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Tens of thousands rally for Macedonia PM as opposition digs in. Yahoo News. Published May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  7. ^ Macedonia protests: Anti-Gruevski rally in Skopje. BBC News. Guy De Launey. Published May 17, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Macedonian PM under increasing pressure as tens of thousands take the streets. The Guardian. May 17, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d At least 19 injured in Macedonia anti-government protest. Yahoo News. Published May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Macedonia Opposition Says Preparing Mass Protest in Skopje on Sunday. Sputnik International. Published May 16, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Macedonia on high alert as protests grow over wire taps scandal. The New Zealand Herald. Glen Johnson. Published May 16, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d e Wire-tap scandal brings thousands out against Macedonian leader. Reuters. Matt Robinson and Fatos Bytyci. Published May 17, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Protesting Macedonians Demand Government's Resignation. The New York Times. Published May 17, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  14. ^ Emergency landing for Macedonia PM. Irish Examiner. Published May 21, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2015.
  15. ^ a b Macedonia's political rivals talk about crisis amid EU meditation; plan new meeting next week. Daily Journal. Published May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  16. ^ Casule, Kole. "Macedonian opposition cries election foul, will not accept results | Reuters". Uk.reuters.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19. 
  17. ^ Documents show British Ambassador directly involved in Macedonia coup scandal. Macedonian International News Agency. Gorazd Velkovski. Published April 9, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  18. ^ Troubled Macedonian braces for major opposition rally. Business Insider. Jasmina Mironski. Published May 17, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015
  19. ^ Violent anti-government protests grip Macedonia's capital. Mashable. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  20. ^ Vladimir Gjuzelov; Ben Brumfield (11 May 2015). "Gun battles in former ethnic flashpoint in Macedonia kill 5 police officers". CNN. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  21. ^ Macedonia ministers resign amid phone-tapping scandal. BBC News. Published May 13, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  22. ^ Macedonia protests: Thousands rally for PM Gruevski. BBC News. Published May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  23. ^ New protests in Macedonia follow violent clashes. Albeu.com. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  24. ^ "Joint Statement by the Ambassadors of the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the European Union". http://macedonia.usembassy.gov. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Albania Says Could Block Macedonia's NATO Bid. ABC News. Published May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  26. ^ "Рама и Вучиќ се заложија за подобрување на меѓусебните односи" (in Macedonian). Sitel. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  27. ^ Bulgaria opposes federalization of Macedonia, PM says after Zaev meeting. Sofia Globe. Published 29 May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  28. ^ Russia Blames Macedonia Crisis on Foreign Influence. Bloomberg Business. Published May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  29. ^ US voices 'concerns' at Macedonia's political crisis. The Economic Times. Published May 19, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015.

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