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Macedonia Scraps Regional Presidential Summit

June 1, 2013

Macedonian plans to host a summit of regional presidents end in fiasco after most of the guests pull out for a variety of reasons – forcing Macedonia’s president to call off the meeting.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 30.05.2013

 

Macedonia President, Gjorge Ivanov

Gjorge Ivanov said there was no point in holding the summit, or the complementary forum, called “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, after several regional leaders said they would not be coming.

“Old Balkan prejudices and complexes were reinvigorated in the wake of the summit,” President Ivanov complained.

The 16th summit of heads of states and prime ministers of the South East Europe Cooperation Process, SEECP, and the forum “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, were due to take place this weekend in Ohrid and nearby Struga as part of Macedonia’s annual presidency of the SEECP.

The first to announce a no show earlier this month was Greek President Karolos Papoulias, an expected move related to the long-standing dispute between Greece and Macedonia over Macedonia’s name.

But then President Rosen Plevneliev of Bulgaria less expectedly also pulled out. Later, the Albanian President also announced that he would not be coming.

He cancelled after Kosovo accused Macedonia of being “anti-European” for not inviting its own President, Atifete Jahjaga, to the meeting, presumably out of deference to the wishes of Serbia, which does not recognise Kosovo’s independence, though Serbia has since denied any role in the affair of the non-invitation.

Out of solidarity with his fellow Albanians in Kosovo, Albania’s Bujar Nishani called off his travel plans.

The last cancellation came on Wednesday from the Croatian President, Ivo Josipovic.

Washington said it regretted the collapse of the planned summit. Praising Macedonia for its attempts to organize a “positive and productive summit”, the State Department told MIA news agency: “It is a pity that the leaders in the region will miss this opportunity to address the challenges standing before all of them”.

The fiasco over the presidential meeting did not reflect on an earlier conference of the heads of SEECP member state parliaments, which opened on Monday, also in Macedonia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Slovenia all sent representatives.

Member states laid the foundations for a joint parliamentary assembly, to be formed next year, aimed at boosting regional cooperation.

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