US condemns Macedonia parliament violence

Opposition leader Zoran Zaev, who is now prime minister, was injured when protesters stormed Macedonia's parliament in April

The United States on Friday strongly condemned chaotic violence in Macedonia's parliament and called on authorities "to hold accountable" those responsible.

"Violence has no place in the democratic process," the State Department said in a statement, adding "we urge all parties to remain calm" and respect the law.

It said that the United States will work with the Macedonian parliament's new speaker, Talat Xhaferi, "to support democracy and to help Macedonia move forward on its European path."

The violence erupted late Thursday when nationalist demonstrators, including a group of masked men, stormed the parliament in anger at a vote appointing Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian.

Scores of people were hurt in the bloody melee.

Around a quarter of Macedonia's population of two million are ethnic Albanians, whom nationalists see as a threat to national unity. The landlocked country aspires to join both NATO and the EU.

The United States was a supporter of ethnic Albanians in neighboring Kosovo who waged a 1998-1999 war to become independent from Serbia.

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