Russia is concerned over the escalation of the political crisis in Macedonia (FYROM) and is calling on the West to stop its interference in the country’s internal affairs, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday.

“The West is using the Albanian minority in an attempt to bring to power in Skopje the defeated opposition, which approved the Albanian ultimatums leading to the erosion of the country’s constitutional principles. The ongoing destructive attempts to impose schemes from the outside, contrary to the will of the Macedonian voters, can only aggravate the situation. It is necessary to stop foreign interference in the internal affairs of Macedonia, to respect the right of the Macedonian citizens to shape their own destiny in accordance with the fundamental democratic principles,” Maria Zakharova said.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the political crisis in Macedonia, “provoked by a rude outside interference in the country’s affairs,” is worsening.

The political crisis in Macedonia began in 2015 as the opposition accused the ruling conservatives of intercepting telephone conversations of some 20,000 people, including police officers, judges, journalists and diplomats. It resulted in the Przino Agreement between the most influential parties in Macedonia, under which then-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had to resign and the parliament was dissolved.

The Macedonians elected a new parliament in the early election in December 2016, after several cancellations. In the vote, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party and the opposition party SDSM won 51 and 49 seats, respectively. However, each party had to gather support of minor pro-Albanian parties to form a coalition government, as there are 120 seats in the country’s legislative body.

Macedonia joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 1995 and the Membership Action Plan in 1999, which is the program of advice, assistance and support to countries seeking to join the Alliance.