President Gjorge Ivanov has caused a diplomatic storm after openly accusing the German ambassador in Macedonia of being incompetent. It is not the first time Ivanov has criticized Berlin.
Macedonia's president Gjorge Ivanov has told local media that the German Foreign Ministry receives "fake news" from its embassy in Skopje, the capital of the Balkan country.
On Wednesday, May 17, Ivanov handed the mandate for forming a government to left-wing opposition leader Zoran Zaev, an initial step toward ending a political crisis that culminated last month in angry protesters storming parliament. For months Ivanov refused to give the mandate to Zaev, although the latter had attained a majority in the parliament.
Wednesday's move was welcomed by the European Union and the US, but Ivanov took offense after the German Foreign Ministry criticized his decision as "long overdue."
"Such a statement from the German Foreign Ministry shows that the German ambassador here serves them fake news. And it's not the first time," he told a local TV channel in Macedonia. "I am warning Germany that the level of diplomats being sent to us is an insult."
"Germany should think twice about the standard of diplomats it sends to Macedonia. It is unacceptable for the German Foreign Ministry to base its statements on false information received from here," Ivanov said.
In its reply to Ivanov's comments, the German Foreign Ministry basically repeated its previous statement.
"We are delighted that after long deliberation, President Ivanov has made a decision and has given up the blockade. Accusations against German diplomats and diplomats of other friendly states are inappropriate," the ministry's statement reads.
It is not the first time that Ivanov has tried to whip up a diplomatic stir in Europe. In an interview with the German tabloid "Bild" in March 2016, Ivanov accused the EU of leaving his country in the lurch during the refugee crisis.
He also said Germany was refusing to cooperate on security issues, an accusation that was flatly rejected in Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the government could not understand Ivanov's harsh criticism.
After the latest Ivanov outburst, the former Macedonian diplomat and ambassador to the OSCE Arsim Zekoli told DW that "one cannot expect any better from Mr. Ivanov."
"The attack against the German diplomat corps is a desperate attempt to find a justification and divert the attention of the public away from the humiliating defeat of his irrational policies after handing the mandate to Mr. Zaev," Zekoli said.
"The style and vocabulary used by him is an almost verbatim imitation of previous similar attacks by former Prime Minister Gruevski launched against foreign ambassadors in the hope of stopping the erosion of popularity among his followers, but without significant success," he added.