BRUSSELS (AP) — Talks between Macedonia's feuding political parties ended late Wednesday without any breakthrough to resolve a deep political crisis that has paralyzed the Balkan country for months.
Main opposition leader Zoran Zaev and conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, along with two ethnic Albanian political leaders, were holding talks in Brussels with the European Union's top enlargement official, Johannes Hahn, and EU lawmaker Ivo Vajgl, in a bid to hammer out a deal that will include holding early elections by April 2016.
"The talks were open and detailed, but did not lead to a final agreement yet," the EU's executive Commission said in a statement.
The crisis, one of the deepest Macedonia has faced since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, stems from opposition claims that the government illegally wire-tapped 20,000 people. Zaev claims Gruevski is behind the wiretapping; Gruevski accuses Zaev of plotting a coup.
Tiny Macedonia is a candidate for EU membership but its accession talks have been held up by a dispute with Greece over the country's name. The delay has caused deep frustration in Macedonia, which also wants to join NATO, but the crisis is further damaging its chances of starting membership negotiations.
The Commission urged the parties to implement promised reforms and "to find a lasting political compromise without any delay and come forward with concrete proposals to this end."
It said that it "will now consider how to best contribute to the political process in the country and remains ready to facilitate discussions."