Responding to a journalist’s question regarding Nikola Gruevski’s escape, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev confirmed information received from Albania and Montenegro, that he had fled to Hungary and confirmed that this was done with a Hungarian diplomatic vehicle.
He said that there is no doubt as to whether Gruevski is in Hungary as it was confirmed by official services, and that he expects Gruevski to be extradited.
However, he also publicly questioned whether Gruevski had left Macedonia voluntarily before the confirmation of his prison term or whether he was kidnapped. He expects Gruevski and Hungary to answer this question.
“Every embassy is an extraterritoriality, that is, a territory belonging to another state, every diplomatic vehicle, every aircraft, depending on which flag is flown, is an extraterritoriality. Our police or system can not act there, including a diplomatic vehicle. From that aspect, I publicly ask if he did it voluntarily or was kidnapped. The answer to this question will provide answers to many questions that our citizens deserve to know,” Zaev replied to a question from “Meta” as to why he mentioned kidnapping.
The prime minister went on to say that the MoI investigation will provide answers to all questions that citizens and himself are angry about. He confirmed that two investigations have been launched, one by internal affairs over the possible involvement of police or any employee of the Ministry of Interior, and the second investigation conducted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime.
“We will share all documents and evidence we have with the public, we will pass them on to Hungary, as well as to EU Commissioner Hahn and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. The least we expect is that international law is respected, and in addition, to prove our friendship by extraditing or returning Gruevski. We have already submitted the first documents on our side. The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice are in the process of completing them and as soon as they are finished, all other documents will be submitted. We are putting together all the arguments, what other cases are being brought against Gruevski, and details of why the final verdict was upheld,” Zaev added.
Responding to another journalist’s question that the media had been reporting about the possibility of Gruevski fleeing as early as August, that is, if MPs voted for the name change, Zaev said that he was aware of this when he released the bombs in 2015. However, he added that Nikola Gruevski’s escape was not related to the vote in Parliament and the most important political process that is currently taking place.
“Why is there no connection? Because Gruevski was meant to vote in person and would not put his fellow MPs in the dock. Secondly, because it would have been too late, I do not know if a parliamentary majority in such circumstances could be held. And because he probably betrayed his former comrades and associates. He did it in the most inhuman way and the consequences can still be felt,” said Zaev.
Asked again about the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior in the case, he added that they have taken over the whole case in accordance with the law.
“He was followed for four weeks, they were cautious and I was informed about all the details. Gruevski was transparent. He attended Parliament sessions, committees, court hearings, photos were published of him running on the river bank with his security detail. This confirms that he did not receive death threats and there were no indications that he would attempt something. From that aspect, I can confirm that four weeks earlier, maybe more, the MoI used its powers of monitoring. The MoI will be able to tell us more when they do a reconstruction and from the the investigation being conducted by internal affairs,” Zaev added.
He does not believe that Gruevski will try and run to Turkey or Russia because, as he said, Hungary understands the seriousness of the situation.
“They will probably give us their answers, and that responsibility would be huge and unbearable if such a thing happened. It depends on Hungary and is out of our control. I believe they will act in accordance with international regulations. It’s not politics, or inconvenience at home, for the state to give him asylum. This is about a legally valid verdict, and with his escape he is acknowledging his guilt,” Zaev said.