US Embassy in Macedonia under Investigation: Top Congressman Demands Removal of Baily
Leading Republican House representative Christopher Smith announced an investigation in the activities of the US Embassy in Macedonia, and the allegations that it has acted in an openly partisan way in the past years, supporting the left wing SDSM party, MIA reported.
The call comes after the Embassy failed to respond to a letter signed by Smith and five other GOP representatives, who demanded answers over meddling in domestic politics, but also over Embassy funding for activities of the George Soros-led Foundation Open Society Macedonia.
"The US Ambassador should not have a role in forming the Government or take sides during the coalition making process. It is not the place of the United States or the US representatives in Skopje to do so. We, as a group of members of Congress, sent specific question in our letter asking whether there was collusion between the Embassy and left wing parties during the elections. We need to have free and fair elections and to work with the media, but under no circumstances should we take sides. This Ambassador has taken a side and he should be fired immediately! I've served in the Congress for 37 years, I am a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I chair the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Global Human Rights and International Operations Subcommittee. And I think it is unheard of that our Ambassador in Skopje takes a side in these elections, or in any other past or future elections. That is not his job. We intend to get to the bottom of this. We did not receive a response to our letter and we are asking the Inspector General to file a report. If they violated the law, they will be held responsible", representative Smith told the Macedonian Television correspondent in Washington D.C.
Representative Smith reacts following numerous reports that the US Embassy has extended significant funds to activities of NGO groups associated with the Soros network. According to Smith, if the US Government gives funding to NGO activities, they should go to non-partisan and neutral groups, and not to the Soros led groups for whom there are long-standing allegations that they are coordinating their actions with the social-democratic SDSM party.
"In this case, it seems that the US Government funded organizations that have taken sides, specifically, the side of the socialists, which is absolutely unacceptable. I think this is illegal and we will examine this case to the fullest extent. I sent Ambassador Jess Baily some very specific questions and, again, he did not respond. We need to promote democracy, and not take sides and promote political parties or their coalitions", adds Smith.
The letter was addressed to US Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily, and was sent on January 17th. It is signed by representatives Smith, Louie Gohmert, Randy Hultgren, Robert Aderholt, Robert Pittenger and Jeff Fortenberry, all members of the Republican Party, some of whom have strongly supported Macedonia in the past. The letter contains a series of questions to Ambassador Baily over the way he worked with the political parties in Macedonia, over allegations that he promoted positions favorable to the SDSM party, his funding of the George Soros led NGO groups and of media outlets who fall on the left side of the political divide. The letter coincides with a similar call from Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican who sat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Lee called Ambassador Baily out via social media and asked him to provide clarity in his activities, after The Daily Caller reported on US Embassy activities to fund Soros groups in Macedonia.
"We value the close relationship that has been formed between the United States and Macedonia in the 25 years since it achieved independence. That relationship has allowed the US to contribute to Macedonia's political and economic development and Macedonia to cooperate with the United States, contributing to many of our country's foreign policy priorities. It would obviously be profoundly destructive for that relationship were our country were to be perceived within Macedonia as interfering in its internal politics, media, and civil society in such a way as to consistently favor one group over another. We hope to receive from you accurate information in response to our questions no later than two weeks from the date of this letter. We also hope that you will be available to meet with us to discuss these matters the next time you are in Washington DC", is the conclusion of the letter signed by the six representatives.
After the representatives failed to receive a response, they are now announcing an investigation in the allegations and say they will take the matter before the newly appointed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
"Our message is that, if the US Government took a political side, it has made a major error and all those involved should apologize and stop immediately. Ultimately, diplomats who were acting in this way will be held responsible. We are all for free and fair elections, but not for taking sides. I will be in touch with Secretary Tillerson, and I have already been in touch with members of the Trump transition team. We need to have a detailed oversight into what the Administration has been doing over the past eight years because we have been taking sides politically in other countries as well, and there have been other similar incidents. That undermines US public diplomacy and our diplomacy in general. It is against the law and is unheard of. Again, he (Baily) needs to be fired!", Smith told the Macedonian National Television.
The letter informs Ambassador Baily that the representatives have heard "credible reports that, over the past two years, the US Mission to Macedonia has actively intervened in the party politics of Macedonia, as well as in the shaping of its media environment and civil society, in a manner that consistently favors the parties, media, and civil society groups of the center left over those of the center right. These include disturbing reports that the actions of the US Mission to Macedonia strongly favored the centerleft parties in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for April 24, later postponed to June 5th, and then finally held on December 11th, and in the post election process by which the Macedonian parties are now negotiating to form a new Government".
Specific sets of questions addressed to the Ambassador include:
- Has the US Mission to Macedonia selected the Foundation Open Society Macedonia (FOSM) as the major implementer of USAID projects in Macedonia? Is FOSM perceived in Macedonia as politically biased? Do the activities of FOSM show a political bias? Do the NGOs, media entities, and projects funded by FOSM have an agenda that corresponds to or favors that of the center-left and / or left in Macedonia?
- How many media outlets received US Government funds (through FOSM or otherwise) and what are their names? How many media outlets in Macedonian language that have received US Government funds are politically oriented to the center left? How many to the center right? Has the US Mission in Macedonia promoted the adoption by the Macedonian Government of a media regulation that would limit free speech in a way inconsistent with the first amendment to the United States Constitution?
- Have any NGOs that receive US Government funds (including through FOSM or otherwise) taken sides in the election or in the formation of the next Macedonian Government? For each NGO, what sides have they taken?
- Please describe the role that you and other persons associated with the US Mission to Macedonia played in the discussions that led to the scheduling of the parliamentary elections. It is particularly relevant to know whether and how the position represented by the US Mission to Macedonia corresponds or not to those of the various Macedonian political parties.
The letter also expresses the hope that role of the Ambassador was not improperly partisan.
- Parliament Speaker Holds Talks with Belgian Ambassador to Macedonia
- FM Poposki at Western Balkans Conference in Stockholm
- President Ivanov to Have Audience with Pope Francis
- Russian President: Political Situation in Macedonia to Develop in Accordance with Constitution
- Parliament Speaker Xhaferi Meets UNDP Representative to Macedonia Winton
- President Ivanov Travels to Moscow