EU "very concerned" by election violence in Macedonia

Other News Materials 2 June 2008 16:58 (UTC +04:00)

The European Union is "very concerned" by the deadly violence which broke out during elections in Macedonia, a candidate for EU membership, officials in Brussels said Monday, reported dpa.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn is "very concerned about the violence that occurred during the elections in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and has "expressed his concerns to (acting) prime minister (Nikola) Gruevski," Rehn's spokeswoman said.

The EU's executive, the European Commission, "calls for an orderly and peaceful conduct of the voting" during a promised re-run of the election in violence-stricken precincts, she said.

The EU's top foreign-policy official, Javier Solana, echoed that call, saying he expected to "see improvements" in the situation.

However, EU officials refrained from further comment on Sunday's election, pending reports from local and international observers, expected later Monday.

Macedonia has been a candidate for EU membership since December 2005, but violence between the country's ethnic Slavic majority and Albanian minority, and within the minority, have led to concerns in Brussels as to its political stability.

The commission has repeatedly stated that the organization of free and fair elections is an "essential element" in the EU's membership criteria. Macedonia's progress will be assessed in an annual report in the autumn, Rehn's spokeswoman said.

In its November 2007 report on Macedonia's progress the commission warned that "the dialogue between all parties within the Parliament needs to be conducted in peaceful and constructive manner."

Rehn's spokesman would make no comment on what this year's progress report might say.

Sunday's election saw one man killed and several injured as rivalry between Albanian groups spilled over into a gunfight.