Europe

EU's foreign policy chief urges calm in Macedonia

  • A man carries a poster that reads in Macedonian "Macedonia is all we have" during a protest march through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Thousands of Macedonians have staged peaceful protests for days in the capital Skopje and other cities, against calls by ethnic Albanian parties to make Albanian the country's second official language. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

    A man carries a poster that reads in Macedonian "Macedonia is all we have" during a protest march through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Thousands of Macedonians have staged peaceful protests for days in the capital Skopje and other cities, against calls by ethnic Albanian parties to make Albanian the country's second official language. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)  (The Associated Press)

  • People fly balloons in the colors of the national flag, during a protest in front of the parliament building in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Thousands of Macedonians have staged peaceful protests for days in the capital Skopje and other cities, against calls by ethnic Albanian parties to make Albanian the country's second official language. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

    People fly balloons in the colors of the national flag, during a protest in front of the parliament building in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Thousands of Macedonians have staged peaceful protests for days in the capital Skopje and other cities, against calls by ethnic Albanian parties to make Albanian the country's second official language. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)  (The Associated Press)

  • People carry balloons in the colors of the national flag, during a protest through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Thousands of Macedonians have staged peaceful protests for days in the capital Skopje and other cities, against calls by ethnic Albanian parties to make Albanian the country's second official language. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

    People carry balloons in the colors of the national flag, during a protest through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Thousands of Macedonians have staged peaceful protests for days in the capital Skopje and other cities, against calls by ethnic Albanian parties to make Albanian the country's second official language. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)  (The Associated Press)

The European Union's foreign policy chief has urged Macedonia's president to reverse his decision and let the country's left-wing opposition leader try to form a new government.

Federica Mogherini met Macedonian leaders Thursday and called for them to scale down their rhetoric for fear of triggering inter-ethnic conflict.

The crisis emerged after President Gjorge Ivanov refused Wednesday to give the mandate to Zoran Zaev, runner-up in December's parliamentary election.

Ivanov accused Zaev of jeopardizing national sovereignty, because his ethnic Albanian potential coalition partners want Albanian to be declared the country's second official language.

The party that won the most votes, former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservatives, failed to strike a coalition deal with ethnic Albanian parties over their language demand.

Ethnic Albanians form a quarter of Macedonia's 2.1-million population.