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European Commissioner Heads To Macedonia Over Political Deadlock


Johannes Hahn, the commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, is being met by demonstrations.

Johannes Hahn, the European Union's enlargement commissioner, plans to visit Macedonia on March 21 in another attempt to help break a political deadlock that has left the country unable to form a government since December's election.

A group called "For A United Macedonia" -- which supports the agenda of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party -- has called for a demonstration outside the EU mission's Skopje office during Hahn's visit.

The group says it wants to send "a clear message to Hahn" that members oppose a government that would "ruin the unitary character" of Macedonia by making Albanian an official language.

Three ethnic Albanian parties have demanded Albanian become an official second language as a condition for joining any coalition government.

VMRO-DPMNE leader and former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski refused to meet those demands.

Social Democratic Union leader Zoran Zaev tried to form a coalition with the ethnic Albanian parties.

But President Gjorge Ivanov, also from the VMRO-DPMNE, refused to give Zaev the official mandate to do so.

Ivanov argued that the language issue was an attempt to destroy Macedonia's independence.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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