Ambassador says US sanctions on tycoon will help North Macedonia’s EU ambitions

Jul 20, 2023, 12:37 PM

SKOPJE, NORTH MACEDONIA (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to North Macedonia defended a decision by her government to impose sanctions on a prominent local businessman, arguing Thursday that the action was taken to combat corruption and would ultimately help the Balkan country’s bid to join the European Union.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned businessman Jordan Kamchev, 52, on Wednesday, blocking any of his existing assets in the United States and prohibiting business ties with American citizens.

“The abuse of office, money laundering, bribery, and other offenses (he) participated in not only eroded public confidence in North Macedonia’s justice sector, but also represented a significant betrayal of the people of this country,” U.S. Ambassador Angela Aggeler told reporters in North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje.

For the country to reach its goal of obtaining EU membership, “corruption cannot go unchecked,” Aggeler said.

Kamchev heads a powerful business group with investments in real estate, health care, construction and agriculture, and has been the target of several high profile corruption investigations in North Macedonia.

There was no immediate reaction to the U.S. sanctions from government officials.

The European Union has listed overcoming delays in judicial reforms and combating corruption as priorities for progress in North Macedonia’s EU accession bid.

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Ambassador says US sanctions on tycoon will help North Macedonia’s EU ambitions