Macedonians Continue Protests, Ivanov Avoids Meeting Bildt

Demonstrators chanted anti-European Union slogans as they took to the streets of Skopje again on April 18 in a protest against the proposed inclusion of ethnic Albanian parties in a governing coalition.

Thousands of demonstrators stopped outside of the parliament in Skopje demanding new elections and denouncing plans by the coalition partners to institute Albanian as the country's second language.

They also cheered President Gjorge Ivanov for reportedly refusing to meet with Carl Bildt, the co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, during his April 18 visit to Skopje.

Bildt's visit was aimed at trying to help Macedonia resolve its two-year political crisis.

The ruling VMRO-DPMNE party for weeks has successfully blocked the coalition from forming a new government and electing a speaker of parliament.

The protesters, who have gathered for almost two months, have lionized Ivanov as a hero for having refused to give the coalition a mandate to form a new government, even though it holds a majority in parliament.

The United States and European Union have called on the VMRO to stop its obstruction tactics, which have prolonged the country's long-running political crisis.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service