Former PM Gruevski flees to Hungary and seeks Asylum

“In the last few days I have received countless threats to my life. I am in Budapest now and I have asked for political asylum from the Hungarian authorities. I will always remain true to the cause of Macedonia. I will never give up,” former PM Nikola Gruevski wrote on his official Facebook page at around 1 pm on Tuesday. Later that day, both Interior and Foreign Ministry confirmed the former PM was in the Hungarian capital and had asked for asylum. The MFA summoned Hungarian Ambassador Laszlo Istvan Dux in order for the information to be checked also through diplomatic channels, and reported that “confirmation of the validity of the information was received through the Republic of Macedonia’s Interior Ministry”. Previously, Hungarian authorities stated for Radio Free Europe that they could neither confirm nor deny Gruevski’s presence and asylum claim. “We are unable to comment on individual asylum claims which are still being processed,” the Hungarian Government pointed out. According to Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski and Defence Minister Radmila Sekerinska, the responsibility for the fact that Gruevski has fled should fall to the courts, which didn’t issue a detention order. Criminal Court responded that it cannot issue a detention measure on its own unless a prosecutor’s office makes such a request, while the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), in the Tank case, in which the former PM has been given a two-year-prison sentence, has never requested detention for Gruevski. The Court disagrees with those stands and points out that if the MoI “determines that it is necessary for measures to secure a certain person to be taken, the Ministry can do that also upon an order from the Prosecutor’s Office or ex officio”. Prior to Gruevski’s Facebook post, VMRO-DPMNE once again said it didn’t have information about where its honorary leader was and what he was doing. “What happened last night was a police siege in order to pressure the membership,” the opposition party stressed. Commenting on the situation, PM Zoran Zaev said that both the Court and the Ministry had acted like “they have towards any other citizen so far”. Also, he stated that the outcome wasn’t a result of political bargaining. The EC declined to comment on the asylum claim, reiterating that the rule of law was a fundamental principle for both member-states and candidate countries. “We expect all sides to act strictly in accordance with relevant rules. This is a court procedure that mustn’t be politicised” it pointed out. Hungary’s Democratic Coalition said it wouldn’t allow Hungary to “cover up criminals, even if they are friends” with PM Viktor Orban. Before Gruevski’s status update, ex-UBK head and former VMRO-DPMNE high official Saso Mijalkov said he didn’t know where the former PM was. SDSM stated that “the convicted criminal Nikola Gruevski has confirmed himself that he is an embarrassment as well as a coward. However, he will not escape justice.” Spasovski told a Kanal 5 TV show that Gruevski had fled through “green” crossings. The warrant for Gruevski in the Tank case was made international by the Interior Ministry.