Europe

US official criticizes pardons for Macedonian politicians

  • U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee talks to the media at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Deputy Assistant Secretary Yee had talks with Macedonian main political party leaders, amid the political crisis in the Balkan country which has deepened after Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov decided to grant pardons that halted criminal proceedings against dozens of politicians, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

    U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee talks to the media at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Deputy Assistant Secretary Yee had talks with Macedonian main political party leaders, amid the political crisis in the Balkan country which has deepened after Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov decided to grant pardons that halted criminal proceedings against dozens of politicians, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee, center, answers journalists' questions with U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily, right, at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Deputy Assistant Secretary Yee had talks with Macedonian main political party leaders, amid the political crisis in the Balkan country which has deepened after Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov decided to grant pardons that halted criminal proceedings against dozens of politicians, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

    U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee, center, answers journalists' questions with U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily, right, at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Deputy Assistant Secretary Yee had talks with Macedonian main political party leaders, amid the political crisis in the Balkan country which has deepened after Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov decided to grant pardons that halted criminal proceedings against dozens of politicians, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protestors use an improvised slingshot to throw balloons filled with colored paint toward the Parliament building, during an anti-government protest in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Macedonia's parliament voted in an urgent session Wednesday to delay an early general election scheduled for June 5, after a top court temporarily suspended all electoral activities. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

    Protestors use an improvised slingshot to throw balloons filled with colored paint toward the Parliament building, during an anti-government protest in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Macedonia's parliament voted in an urgent session Wednesday to delay an early general election scheduled for June 5, after a top court temporarily suspended all electoral activities. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)  (The Associated Press)

A U.S. State Department official says a decision by Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov to pardon politicians accused in a major wiretapping scandal has damaged the country's credibility.

Hoyt Brian Yee, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, called on Macedonia's squabbling political leaders Thursday to "act urgently to repair the damage done by these pardons."

Speaking to journalists in Skopje after two-day talks with Macedonian leaders, he called for "clear, comprehensive and unambiguous" action.

Macedonia has been in political turmoil since February 2015 following a wiretapping scandal, and early elections planned for June 5 have been postponed.

The pardons prompted an angry reaction from both main parties, criticism from the European Union and street protests over the past month in Macedonia's capital, Skopje, and other cities.