The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyzes events in the Middle East and the Balkans. On the occasion of scheduled early parliamentary elections in the Republic of Macedonia, on June 5th 2016, we prepared an analysis of the current political situation. The analysis of „Macedonia: A country and democracy stolen“ is presented below.
The early parliamentary elections in Macedonia, which were scheduled to be held on 24th of April 2016 have been postponed to June 5th, 2016, although the preconditions for their implementation have not yet been met. The elections are the result of the Pržina agreement from June 2015 when four major political parties in Macedonia, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM), the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI-BDI) and Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA-PDSH), after tough negotiations agreed on the means to resolve the political crisis, caused by illegal tapping of more than 20,000 citizens, through extraordinary parliamentary elections, implementation of which depends on the satisfactory establishment of certain preconditions. Amongst others, these preconditions are the purification of the electoral list containing the excess of 330,000 voters, and the establishment of a control of the media, which would allow equal access to media for all participants in the electoral process instead of the absolute domination of the, VMRO-DPMNE in the media.
Meanwhile, the Albanian party DUI led by Ali Ahmeti tactically left the ruling coalition in early April 2016, with the aim of "cementing" the date of the early parliamentary elections on 5 June 2016 (in accordance with the interests of the regime) and once more proved and confirmed that it is a puppet in the hands of Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE). The other Albanian party, DPA, is also working in accordance with the interests of the regime. Due to the DUI and DPA, Albanians are left without their representatives in the institutions of the Macedonian state. The loyalty of the President of DPA Menduh Thaci to the Nikola Gruevski - Sašo Mijalkov duo is unquestionable, which is clear from the published transcripts of the wiretapped conversations in which Thaci expressed loyalty to Mijalkov "to the death". Therefore it is not surprising that the state leadership of Albania and the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama deny any kind of support to the Ahmeti – Thaci duo.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Macedonia passed a controversial ruling through which all competencies and powers of office regarding the authority to pardon individuals were "returned" to the President of the Republic of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov, on the basis of which he can pardon not only condemned individuals but also suspects. Although nobody asked President Ivanov for a pardon, he granted a pardon to all participants in the "eavesdropping" scandal and the "election fraud" scandal, which triggered mass protests of citizens and those individuals who were pardoned from the ranks of the opposition. Thus President Ivanov again abused his constitutional powers and therefore the citizens of Macedonia are justifiably demanding his resignation through mass protests.
It is known that that pardons President Ivanov had granted (in some cases even against the expressed desires of those pardoned) were agreed with the leadership of VMRO-DPMNE, and it is also known that President Ivanov abused the state visits of the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor, and President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, as he presented his decision to pardon the individuals implemented in both scandals on the date of their visits, in order to alleviate public reaction to his decision. At the same time it is highly unusual, that Pahor and Grabar-Kitarović came to visit Macedonia duringthe time of a tense election campaign, because it creates an impression that the visitors support the existing regime, which caused the political crisis. The alleged reason for the visit in the guise of the "Brdo-Brioni" process is not credible, as the"Brdo-Brioni" process has been „dead“ for a long time now and has no added value. President of the Republic of Austria Heinz Fischer declined to participate in the charade, and did not want to come to Macedonia to participate in the ploy of the outgoing regime in Macedonia. It is interesting that Pahor and Grabar-Kitarović were drawn into Macedonian "pot" in the backgrounds of which Russia is heavily involved with the aim of preventing Macedonia from joining NATO (through the aid of the present regime), while they are the heads of state of countries that are full NATO members.
In the middle of 2016, we will pass the 10 year mark of the ascension of the VMRO-DPNE and DUI coalition to power.
During the ten-year rule VMRO-DPNE participated in electoral fraud and all previous elections are held under the suspicion of falsified election results. Therefore, the Special Public Prosecutor's Office initiated criminal proceedings against the former Minister of the Interior Gordana Jankulovska and former Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Jankievski on the suspicion of participating in electoral fraud. Due to the fact that we are talking about electoral fraud, the legality and legitimacy of the election of the President of the Parliament, Government, President of the State, the Constitutional Court, are brought into question ...
Media and media space are under the absolute control of the Nikola Gruevski regime, the former Prime Minister, who is still the president of VMRO-DPMNE, and the absolute master of Macedonia. The denial of freedom of the media in Macedonia has been the substance of reportsof various internatioanl organizations in the last few years. It is therefore necessary, before the elections, to establish a regulation of the media, because in the current conditions, created by the regime VMRO-DPMNE is absolutely favored.
During the 10 years rule of the VMRO-DPMNE the citizens of Macedonia had their country and democracy stolen by the regime. In doing so the regime had the wholehearted support of DUI. VMRO-DPMNE has focused primarily on institutional crime and corruption, as it has under control all the levers of power, while they left to the Albanian leaders mostly non-institutional crime. That basically represents the separation of powers and areas of interest between VMRO-DPMNE and DUI. In this spirit the meetings to assemble a coalition were held, in which the then head of the Macedonian secret services Sašo Mijalkov also participated, as he was in possession of „colorful“ criminal records of Albanian leaders.
The formation of the Special Public Prosecutor gives hope that Macedonia could start many positive processes, including the beginning of the process of de-Gruevization of this country. Unfortunately, in addition to the Special Public Prosecutor's Office a Special Court, to judge the perpetrators of crime and corruption in enormous proportions, was not formed. Of the total number of 770 judges in Macedonia 440 judges were appointed by the VMRO-DPMNE as their staff.
It is necessary to form a Special court on the same basis as the Special Public Prosecutor's Office, which would prosecute numerous crimes, associated with the granting of subsidies in agriculture, bid rigging, money transfers to Belize, Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Switzerland, Delaware etc. According to estimates in the last 10 years of the VMRO-DPMNE rule some 2.2 billion EUR has been taken out of Macedonia through various forms of crime and corruption.
In addition to the main suspects Nikola Gruevski and Sašo Mijalkov there are many other individuals who are linked with the current regime, such as Mile Janakievski, Vladimir Pesevski, Koce Trajanovski, Orce Kamcev, Srgjan Kerim, Musa Xhaferi, Bekim Hasani, Minčo Jordanov, Whole Pandeleski, Nikola Todorov and many others. A list of the "Top 100 persons" of the Nikola Gruevski regime is in circulation, depicting the individuals who are the subject of the investigation of the Special Public Prosecutor's Office.
A difficult task of processing the indictments for the "TOP 100 persons" of the regime led by the Gruevski-Mijalkov duo lies before the Special Public Prosecutior's office. The process the de-Gruevization of Macedonia will begin with the arrest of Nikola Gruevski. According to the estimates of committed crimes of the regime, they are inappropriately larger in scale and content than those committed by the former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. Therefore, the de-Gruevization of Macedonia is going to be a major challenge for the international community as well, because a crime commited by a state is not an isolated category but contains elements of international crime. The world's leading intelligence agencies have ample dossiers on the Gruevski-Mijalkov duo, their closest associates and all those who have benefited thanks to the existing regime.
Due to all these circumstances there is a need for a strong support of the leadership of the Special Public Prosecutor's Office, namely, Katica Janeva, Fatima Fetahi, Lence Risteska and other prosecutors, whose previous actions demonstrated professionalism and fearlessness in fighting crime and corruption. In Macedonia, there has been a misuse of the collapse of state institutions and in such circumstances, the role of the Special Public Prosecutor's office becomes even more important. Macedonia will most likely need additional assistance of US agencies to deal with crime and corruption in a similar way as the United States offered to help Italy to deal with the Mafia.
The conditions for holding fair, honest and transparent elections on June 5th, 2016, have still not been met, due to the fact that the electoral list still holds more than 330,000 illegally registered voters. The question is, who is willing to take responsibility for organizing elections in such conditions, because such elections would be falsified and criminal. It is therefore important that the EU and the official Brussels give stronger support to the democratization of Macedonia, because that would mean support to the democratization of the entire region of the Western Balkans. Some circles within the EU still flirt with Gruevski, because he is willing upon the whim of a part of the EU to cause local conflicts to physically interrupt refugee/migrant paths, which lead through Macedonia to Western Europe. In this case the role of the European Commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement Johannes Hahn is specially important. He would probably not allow criminal organizations and corruption to suborn institutions of the Austrian state (his home country). Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia can't avoid their responsibility in the scandal of illegal wiretapping of more than 20,000 citizens, because the existing telecom operators in Macedonia are in either majority or minority (para)ownership of these states.
The Macedonian regime is in a state of fear and panic, because their days are numbered, and is therefore is willing to inflict further harm on Macedonia, as 40% of the Macedonian economy is in the (para)ownership of VMRO-DPMNE.
In Macedonia we are seeing an erosion of the regime and an erosion of activities of individuals within the regime, who have already offered themselves to the opposition in the role "collaborating witnesses". The current attitude of the EU towards events in Macedonia leads to the endangering of European values, because the EU has not adequately responded to the situation or has responded to it too late. This causes a further loss of credibility of the EU among Macedonian citizens, as the EU supported and flirted with the hated regime.
Macedonia's crisis can't be resolved without an additional engagement of the United States. In the case of the Macedonian regime we have a similar situation as with the authoritarian Syrian regime in Damascus, with which the EU countries severed diplomatic relations and recalled their ambassadors years ago. If current escalations of the situation in Macedonia continue, the EU will be forced to make a decision on the termination of diplomatic relations and the withdrawal of ambassadors of EU member states from Macedonia.
It is necessary to defuse the relations in Macedonia through the organization of a fair, honest and transparent elections. A further contribution to the normalization of the situation would be the arrest of the key actors of Macedonia's destabilization, above all, of the Gruevski – Mijalkov duo.
It is necessary that the United States and the EU express stronger support to the prosecutors of the Special Public Prosecutor's office - Joneva, Fetahi, Risteska and other prosecutors. The involvement of the Special Public Prosecutor's office is restoring confidence in the institutions of the Macedonian state, and contributing to the decriminalization of politics and public sector in Macedonia.
If the purification of the electoral lists, where there is a surplus of 330,000 voters, is not implemented, it will be soon required to prolong the elections, scheduled for June 5th, 2016 again. Otherwise the elections would be reminescent of the recently held parliamentary elections in Syria, were organized by (and for the need to preserve) the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which the civilized world does not recognize.
Security experts warn of possibilities of assassination of the most recognized leaders of the opposition, as in 2006 when the assassination of Arben Xhaferi took place. This risk has recently increased, when the regime rescinded the legal and constitutional rights of the Minister for Home Affairs in the transitional government, Oliver Spasovski (SDSM), and revoked all his decisions. The regime is still based on the repressive apparatus, and the unlawful deprivation of constitutional and legal rights of Minister Spasovski should be seen as an alarm that the regime is trying to mobilize and consolidate itself in order to stay in power, and avoid imminent arrests and judicial processing of it's key people. The US and EU must not leave the Republic of Macedonia and it's citizens in the lurch. The people of Macedonia have been held hostage by the regime of Nikola Gruevski for the last 10 years. Therefore, the citizens of Macedonia need help to reclaim their own state, which was stolen from them, and to re-establish democracy. The elections need to be prolonged as long as the conditions for their fair and honest implementation are not met.
Ljubljana, April 28th, 2016