The US embassy in Macedonia has dismissed claims made in the pro-government newspaper, Vest, that the US is hoping former prime minister and ruling party leader Gruevski will win the early elections in June. “The United States Government does not endorse candidates in other countries’ elections. Macedonia is no exception,” the embassy wrote to former Vest editor Goran Mihajlovski, who was dismissed from the paper in December. The daily, now run by a new editorial team, on Wednesday wrote a text called “Gruevski favored by one of the most Circulated US Newspapers” with a subtitle reading: “Washington has its fingers in the Macedonian election race.” The text cites a column in The Washington Times, written by Jason Katz, a public relations professional and a principal of TSG, LLC, a strategic communications, political and policy consultancy.
In the column, “Why a stable Macedonia Matters”, Katz praises Gruevski and his ruling VMRO DPMNE party, which he says promises stability and prosperity over the opposition Social Democrats whom he refers to as “former communists” and their leader, Zoran Zaev whom he calls a “racketeer”. The wording of the column clearly resembles that used routinely by VMRO DPMNE in Macedonia.
After several texts appeared recently in US newspapers that are critical of the Macedonian opposition, BIRN contacted the authors who insisted they had not been paid to represent VMRO-DPMNE, the Macedonian government, or others representing those interests. Katz said that his interest in Macedonia stemmed from a “geopolitical/US foreign policy standpoint”.