Lavrov Claims FYROM Lawmakers Were Blackmailed, Bribed



Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. File photo

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the West interfered in the domestic affairs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), bribing and blackmailing lawmakers to approve the Prespa accord with Greece.

In an interview with the Greek daily Efimerida ton Syntakton published on Friday, the head of Russian diplomacy accused the European Union and the United States of “constantly intervening” in the affairs of FYROM.

He accused Brussels and Washington of exercising “unprecedented pressure” on the government and voters of FYROM concerning September’s referendum on the name deal.

Lavrov went as far as saying lawmakers in Skopje had been “blackmailed and bribed” to vote through the constitutional changes demanded by the agreement, even though the referendum “failed.”

“Now there are frantic attempts to get the process in the final stretch by early 2019,” Lavrov told the Greek newspaper, claiming that Washington’s aim is the “forced accession of Skopje into NATO.”

Lavrov dismissed expectations that implementation of the agreement would also speed up FYROM’s bid to join the EU, saying that “negotiations in Brussels, as we all know, can take several decades.”

The interview coincides with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to Moscow on Friday, where he is scheduled to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.