Reactions in Macedonia to Former PM Gruevski’s Escape

According to VMRO-DPMNE, the authorities should be held accountable for former PM Nikola Gruevski’s escape. “The political theatre on Monday took place in order to cover up their own powerlessness and incompetence. We disagree with his decision to go to Budapest. That is not an option even when everyone knows that it’s about political persecution because, that way, the others who are targeted by this persecution,” the opposition party pointed out on Wednesday. On the other hand, PM Zoran Zaev said there had been no oversights in the Interior Ministry’s actions, adding that everything had been in accordance with the laws. Though there had been rumours that someone would flee, no action could be taken because there was no order for serving a prison sentence. He denied that the escape was part of the so-called reconciliation. The PM expects Hungary to extradite the former VMRO-DPMNE leader and, as he underlined, not protect criminals responsible for damages to the state. Zaev hasn’t personally contacted counterpart Viktor Orban. Just the two countries’ Interior Ministers have talked. Macedonia’s authorities have been asked to provide information about the type of crime Gruevski is convicted of. The expectations are that he will return and serve the sentence. SDSM suspects that Hristijan Mickoski and VMRO-DPMNE’s leadership had been aware of Gruevski’s plan. However, the opposition party fiercely rejected the accusations. According to the VMRO-DPMNE leader, Zaev and Interior Minister should be held accountable. Commenting on the issue, Alliance for Albanians leader Ziadin Sela to resign over the escape. “I have information that political stakeholders helped Gruevski leave the country,” he pointed out. Sela called also for early parliamentary elections that would be held simultaneously with the presidential ones. According to him, a government of experts, too, is needed that will focus on judicial reforms. BESA, too, considers that answers are needed, while DUI rejected any involvement in the escape. The Justice Ministry said it was working on completing the necessary documentation to extradite Gruevski to Macedonia. Lile Stefanova of the Special Prosecutor’s Office is of the opinion that her institution is not to blame at all for Gruevski’s escape and that the Court is the one that, when the detention measure was requested, didn’t take seriously the prosecutors’ assessments that there are genuine reasons for an escape. As she added, the SPO was submitting requests for the measure, but the Court was making a different decision, that is, on milder measures to secure a presence. A group of citizens staged a protest outside the Government after it had been confirmed Gruevski was in Hungary and would seek political asylum there.