Government defends Gruevski’s asylum

The immigration and asylum office “did not make any mistake” and the information it provided concerning the asylum case of former Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski was “precise, professional and legitimate”, the interior minister told the press on Wednesday.

Speaking after a meeting of parliament’s national security committee, Sandor Pinter said that “the office never discloses details about such procedures” and added that such information could only be provided to the United Nations. He also added that the applicant is not bound by rules of secrecy and is free to disclose any details. “This might explain what has been published in the press,” he said.

Adam Mirkoczki, the head of the committee delegated by conservative Jobbik, said that the Gruevski affair impacts national security. “It must be revealed if Hungarian authorities or secret services had a role [in Gruevski’s flight to Hungary], if laws have been violated, and if a convicted criminal can be sheltered in the European Union,” he said. Later Mirkoczki announced that his party turns to the European Commission.

Janos Halasz, deputy head of the committee delegated by ruling Fidesz, said that “Gruevski is persecuted by a Socialist government backed by [US financier George] Soros”. He insisted that “the opposition has created a political case” around Gruevski’s asylum request. He said that “while migration is on the increase across the Balkans … opposition politicians were only asking questions about the Gruevski affair”.

Zsolt Molnar, a Socialist member of the committee, called the attitude of ruling party deputies “unacceptable” and voiced regret that “important national security questions were not addressed” despite the interior minister’s presence at the committee meeting.
Gruevski announced on his Facebook page on Tuesday that he had been granted asylum in Hungary.

Szijjarto: Gruevski crossed the border legally

The former Macedonian prime minister, had to cross three borders in order to enter Hungary, Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, said on Wednesday. “In all three cases he did so lawfully,” he said. Szijjarto insisted that Gruevski handed over his travel documents and the authorities checked them in every instance. The minister dismissed reports that Hungarian diplomats had helped to “smuggle” Gruevski out of Macedonia. Diplomats first encountered Gruevski at the Hungarian embassy in Tirana, and were then informed about his application for asylum, he said.

Answering a question, Szijjarto said he was unaware of whether Gruevski’s exit from Macedonia had been the result of a domestic political backroom deal. “Dialogue with Macedonia is ongoing,” he said, adding he was in contact with his Macedonian counterpart as was Hungary’s interior minister. Szijjarto said he would next meet his counterpart in early December at a NATO meeting of foreign ministers. He noted that no one at Monday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers had raised the issue.

Szijjarto said it was not the first time that asylum had been sought by government members of other countries and granted. He added that his ministry had nothing to do with the matter, since the decision on Gruevski did not fall within the scope of its authority.

Also on Wednesday, the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn tweeted that he took note about the decision, and he expects a sound explanation by the Hungarian government. In a tweet, Government Spokesman Zoltan Kovacs reminded the Austrian politician that the latest Macedonian country report mentions “risks of political interference in the judiciary” and he also cited a report by the Council of Europe about prison conditions in the country.

On Tuesday, Macedonia officially sent an extradition request to Hungary, but according to Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi, who was speaking to Echo TV, Gruevski can’t be extradited to the country where he is being persecuted.

Source and photo: MTI

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