By Kole Casule
SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonia's government and opposition on Monday resolved a row over responsibility for a parliamentary brawl that had threatened to trigger a snap election and further damage the country's attempt to start European Union membership talks.
Setting aside their differences, both sides signed up to a report drafted by an ad hoc commission tasked with investigating the incident in December when opposition legislators were ejected from parliament for brawling.
Though largely inconclusive, the report nevertheless appears to apportion most of the blame to the government. Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski threatened on Saturday to force an election two years ahead of schedule rather than sign up to the findings, but backed down on Sunday.
"We decided that, in the interests of the state, and even if it costs us, we will vote and sign the commission's report the way the opposition wants," Gruevski said late on Sunday.
Government and opposition representatives on the committee inked the report on Monday.
"I'm happy that the interest of the citizens was put above the parties," said commission president Borce Davidkovski, who was nominated to the post by the opposition. "The hard work is finished and I would like to thank the European Union expert who gave everything for this report to be final."
The commission was formed under EU pressure, after the row triggered an opposition boycott of parliament and threatened to undermine a local election. It was aided in its work by an EU official.
The EU at the time warned the impasse was further undermining the former Yugoslav republic's chances of starting talks on joining the bloc. The accession bid is already hostage to a two-decade dispute with neighboring EU member Greece over Macedonia's name, which it shares with a northern Greek province.
Macedonia was made an official candidate for membership in 2005, just four years after pulling back from the brink of civil war during clashes between government security forces and an ethnic Albanian guerrilla army.
(Editing by Matt Robinson and Alison Williams)