Even as President Trump seeks to improve relations with Russia, the State Department is countering overtures by Moscow in one of its former satellite regions, the Balkans. State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Tuesday called for Macedonia, one of the former republics of the now-defunct Yugoslavia, to urgently put together a government. This comes after the former prime minister of neighboring Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, accused Russia of meddling in the region and attempting to provoke a coup against Montenegro’s pro-Western government last fall. Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have expressed strong interest in joining the European Union and possibly the NATO military alliance, but Russia has opposed those moves.
“The United States calls on Macedonia’s leaders to form a new government without further delay, in a manner consistent with the constitution and Macedonia’s aspirations to join the European Union and NATO,” Toner said. He did not mention Russia.
Macedonia held parliamentary elections in December, but lawmakers continue to squabble over how to form the government. Russia backed fringe parties in the EU-organized vote.
“The formation of a new government committed to rule of law and implementing needed reforms will help end a political crisis that has severely hindered the country’s democratic and economic development and Euro-Atlantic integration,” Toner said.