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EU 'disappointed' in failed Macedonia crisis talks

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(BRUSSELS) - EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said he was "very disappointed" with the attitude of certain parties to resolve a deep crisis in Macedonia after political talks in Brussels ended without a deal.

"No final deal yet in talks on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," the commissioner said in a tweet.

"(I am) very disappointed about lack of responsibility and leadership by some," he added, without providing more details.

Macedonia's political leaders agreed this month to hold elections in early 2016 in order to overcome a deep political crisis that has embroiled the country for months.

The talks in Brussels were set up to hammer out the details of the election as well as needed reforms, with most of the country's key political actors in attendance, including leaders of the main parties.

"The European Union urges all parties -- in the interest of their country and its citizens -- to find a lasting political compromise without any delay," the EU said in a statement after the talks ended.

Macedonia's last elections were held in April 2014, with the next one due to be held in April 2018.

However the country is suffering a deep political crisis as the government and opposition exchange serious allegations.

Opposition socialists have been boycotting parliament, claiming electoral fraud and refusing to recognise the results of last year's polls.

In addition, the centre-left opposition accuses premier Nikola Gruevski of wiretapping some 20,000 people, including politicians and journalists, as well as of corruption, a murder cover-up and other wrongdoings.

The conservative government, in return, has filed charges against socialist leader Zoran Zaev, accusing him of "spying" and attempts to "destabilise" the country.

The crisis further deepened this month when police clashed with an ethnic Albanian armed group, whose members were mostly from Kosovo, in the northern town of Kumanovo. Eighteen people were killed in the clashes, including eight police officers.

Fearing a repeat of a six-month conflict in 2001 between Macedonian armed forces and ethnic Albanians demanding more rights for their community, the international community stepped in after the Kumanovo incident and initiated political talks among political leaders.

Macedonia has been in a decade-long stalemate in the process of accession to both the European Union and NATO due to a veto by Greece. Athens denies its neighbour the use of the name Macedonia, claiming to have a historical right to it.


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