A number of gunfire shots, a scuffle with stones and bottles hurled, as well as verbal and physical violence took place yesterday evening during the protest in the capital Skopje against the European proposal for the start of the negotiations for North Macedonia’s EU membership.
The opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski accused that there was a police set-up and an attempt for his assassination, while the ruling Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) pointed out that Mickoski and his coalition partners were the directors of the incident.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs denied the accusations that they did not act on time and published a video documenting the police’s intervention to prevent escalation.
“It was a set-up by the police aimed at killing an innocent citizen, a mother with a child, a pensioner, a young man, or my murder”. This is how Mickoski, the president of VMRO-DPMNE, at an extraordinary press conference yesterday evening commented on the incident at Skenderbeg Square, at the entrance to the Old Skopje Bazaar, in the center of Skopje. Shortly after the incident, he posted a photo on Facebook of several people, one of whom had a gun in his hand and said it was the man who was ordered to kill him.
In response to a journalist’s question, Mickoski said that it is normal for every parent and husband to fear for his family or to be worried, at least.
“I’m not afraid, but I’m worried. I’m afraid of just only one, and that’s the Lord! There is no other such being on Earth,“ said the leader of the opposition.
He called for cold-headedness and calmness, adding that the incident was supposed to have looked like an interethnic conflict, and in fact, it was nothing more than a struggle for power, offices, and functions by the parties that are part of the government.
“This has nothing to do with interethnic intolerance, it’s just a fight for naked power. Among other things, I have been receiving informal information for a long time about my elimination summoned by the authorities,“ explained Mickoski, adding that yesterday evening at least two people with firearms were ready to assassinate him.
As he added, the police had not been in the right place. Mickoski accussed that such a scenario was announced by the government, i.e. the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bujar Osmani, the Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, and the Minister of Internal Affairs Oliver Spasovski.
Asked whether the man that he identified out as a person chosen by the authorities to cause incidents or to assassinate him, is actually part of the opposition, i.e. activist of the Alliance for Albanians political party, which is VMRO-DPMNE’s coalition partner in the local government, Mickoski said that he does not pay attention to that and appealed against politicizing the matter.
“I said, we should not politicize the matter. That is the last thing we should do today. Today I do not speak with political vocabulary, but with human language. I sent a message for unification, rising above politics, rising above those politicians who called for interethnic tensions in Macedonia on dictate, if what they planned does not come to realization. Whether or not he is a member, I do not care,“ Mickoski replied.
Immediately after the press conference of the opposition leader, the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement denying his claims.
“The Ministry of Internal Affairs completely denies the claims of VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski that the police were not present and did not react in the incident at the Skenderbeg monument”, said the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
They add that the police were on the scene and reacted and prevented the violence, and, at the same time, that one person was suspected of firing a firearm was immediately arrested.
“During the protests, the police are completely at the level of the task and we are urging the parties to stop spreading disinformation,” the Ministry of Internal Affairs stressed.
A press conference was also held by SDSM spokesman Darko Kaevski, who believes that in this case Mickoski is not a victim, but the organizer of the incident, together with his coalition partners, with the aim of causing interethnic tensions.
“Mickoski is not a victim, but is the director of a bloody scenario, together with his coalition partners Levica and the Alliance for Albanians. A bloody scenario that didn’t work out. Mickoski was not a target, moreover tonight played the worst role for the state and the citizens. The behavior of the opposition that is trying to cause inter-ethnic tensions is shameful, terrible, and dangerous,“ said Kaevski.
He then added that the arrested gunman was actually the brother of PE Communal Hygiene’s director Zudi Enuzi Koka, president of the Alliance for Albanians’ Chair branch, a party which is a coalition partner of VMRO-DPMNE in Skopje local self-government unit.
After the press conference of SDSM, the mayor of Skopje, Danela Arsovska announced that despite his excellent and professional management, she dismisses the acting director of PE Communal Hygiene Zudi Enuzi, who is reportedly the brother of the person who fired a shot in the air at Skenderbeg Square.
“The City of Skopje, as a city of coexistence and solidarity, must not be the center of violence and confrontations with firearms and creating inter-ethnic tensions between our fellow citizens. Politics has gained momentum and in no case should it influence the professionalism of the management of institutions“, said Mayor Arsovska.
As she added, despite the excellent and professional management of the Public enterprise Communal Hygiene by Zudi Enuzi, yet her code of ethics did not allow her to let him continue running the enterprise.
“That is why he has been dismissed from his post of acting director,” Arsovska said.
After the incident yesterday evening, the organizers of the protests against the start of Macedonia’s EU membership negotiations announced a new route for today’s protest.
Via email, in an anonymous message from “Ultimatum – No thank you”, they announced that the protest will start today at 19 hours in front of the government building, then the demonstrant will head toward the Ministry of Justice and will finish in front of the the Parliament.
According to the announcement, the protesters will not move towards the Skopje Old Bazaar and the “Skenderbeg” Square where the incident took place yesterday.
President Stevo Pendarovski published a statement this morning, saying that it is unacceptable to use violence and to incite violence for political purposes.
“The event that took place yesterday in Skopje must not be repeated, because there is nothing more important than the peace and security for all citizens,” the president’s office said in a statement.
President Pendarovski appealed to the organizers of the protests that are taking place in the country these days, to take responsibility and to continue to practice their democratic right to protest with dignity and without violence.
“At the same time, I strongly condemn the use of firearms by civilians and citizens of this country who are not members of the security forces. Yesterday the police responded quickly and prevented further clashes. I expect all persons who were involved in the incident yesterday to be arrested and appropriately sanctioned in the shortest possible time,“ President Pendarovski said.
The Open Society-Macedonia Foundation also reacted, saying it monitors the situation that escalated with riots in front of the Government, Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia and expresses serious concern about the escalation of hatred on ethnic grounds.
“The violence and the hatred that has been observed in the past days in the protests, through calls for a “pure Macedonia”, inspired by the speeches of the protesters, is the basis for the deterioration of the fragile interethnic relations in the country. We believe that the multi-ethnic diversity in the country is our ace and opportunity for prosperity, and therefore we expect the protest organizers and their supporters to show in action that they embrace the values of recognizing diversity and multiculturalism, and for that reason, different cultures, languages and customs make us richer and better,“ the Foundation said.
Yesterday, the person who threw a Molotov cocktail on the 5th of July 2022 towards the building of the Parliament was detained, the Ministry of Internal Affairs informs. As they add, the culprit it is the 18-year-old J.S. from Skopje, who was identified from the recording and who confessed to the crime.