Early elections so that “Racket” does not become the new “TAT”

Aleksandar Nikoloski
Vice president of VMRO-DPMNE

Two weeks ago, I wrote on these same pages that at the top of the iceberg called corruption and racketeering in Macedonia was the “capo di tutti capi” – Zoran Zaev himself. It was at the height of the racketeering affair of many businessmen in Macedonia. Two weeks later things have become clear and, unfortunately, just as we anticipated – not one, but a lot of businessmen were facing racketeering in amounts of money that could, for instance, build a highway between Prilep and Ohrid, or between Shtip and Strumica, or between Tetovo and Debar. And also that only the “smaller fish” are held accountable, while the government is doing everything in its power to protect the “big fish”. There isn’t a citizen of Macedonia who believes that such powerful businessmen with that many businesses they have manage to keep afloat for decades, and great wealth and a great number of employees will agree to pay millions of euros to the top two suspects, if the Special Prosecutor is not the only one behind them, but also the most powerful man in the country – the Prime Minister! Attempting to shift all responsibility to these two suspects is a manipulation of the system, and reminds me of a similar affair that also occurred during the SDSM-TAT affair when tens of thousands of Macedonian citizens were robbed in that banking pyramid scheme. At that time, only the owner of the TAT savings bank was held responsible, and the Mayor of Bitola (current businessman that also faced money extortion) was briefly investigated. Then too only the smaller fish were held accountable! Although it was widely known that the owner of the TAT savings bank had been named Manager of the Year personally by President Kiro Gligorov only a year earlier, the motive was to entrust their hard-earned money exactly to that savings bank, and that the entire top of SDSM, then headed by Branko Crvenkovski, was behind this savings bank. Then it was announced that numerous ministers were receiving high interest rates on their savings deposits or favorable loans that no one paid back! It all came down to the owner of the savings bank, and as a result of that affair the lives of tens of thousands of citizens were ruined, some of them took their lives in despair. At the time, Branko Crvenkovski, like Zoran Zaev does now, delivered a famous speech in the Parliament in which he said that a criminal octopus is ruling with Macedonia and that he would be the one to cut off its tentacles. Just like Zaev, who says that there is crime in the country and that he will deal with it. Branko didn’t deal with the octopus because he personally was the head of that octopus, just as Zaev is now the “capo di tutti capi” of this racketeering network and will certainly not handle it because he is on top of it! SDSM then paid a political price and lost the 1998 elections, which led to the first democratic change of power since the fall of communism, but unfortunately that government led by Ljubco Georgievski did not decide to fully deal with the TAT scandal and seek criminal prosecution and responsibility from Branko Crvenkovski and his ministers. There was a lot of speculation why it was so, but the fact is that justice was nowhere to be found, as well as the fact that Georgievski’s government has done a lot for the TAT savers and they got at least partially reimbursed. I do this analogy with the “TAT” affair because the “Racket” affair has the same potential as “TAT” only in different form. Unless the “Racket” is completely solved and until all involved are held accountable, it will become a rule that will devour Macedonia for decades, the country will sink into corruption and crime, and the citizens will move out and leave. This is why we need snap elections! So that a new VMRO-DPMNE-led government could free the institutions, remove the pressure that is put now on the National Prosecutor’s Office and allow prosecutors to investigate the matter to the end without any political interference. We have capable and honest people there, people we believe in, people who are patriots, who do not want Macedonia to sink into corruption, and who will surely solve this crime to the very top! Macedonia should not have a new TAT affair left unpunished, in which smaller fish will be killed and the big ones will save themselves.

In this regard, Zaev’s attempts to defocus with topics like a new law on public prosecution through which he wants to save Katica Janeva and all of her nieces, nephews, cousins, son’s girlfriends and whoever else she has working there seem desperate. He also wants to save her because she is an inconvenient witness against him in a lawsuit against him. Imagine her saying what kind of orders she received from Zaev for political clashes with political dissidents with VMRO-DPMNE, and blackmail orders to potential coalition partners such as DUI, and blackmail and pressure on businessmen for racketeering and financial gain. That’s why Zaev wants to save Katica at all costs! Of course we are not naive to allow it! But at the same time, in order not to act as a victim again or to unjustifiably defame us in front of the international community, we have drafted our own law on public prosecution that will provide a legal framework for a strong and uncompromising fight against corruption. We are also at the expert level ready to discuss the census and the electoral code. As I already said, we can reach an agreement on all three and if there is good will we will agree on them. But a condition for them to be passed is to set a date for early elections!

Why do we insist on early elections? A perfect law on public prosecution or census can be adopted. If this political pressure of corruption and racketeering continues, the big fish will stay untouched by the law, and the census will become burlesque. Zaev has shown that he is ready to abuse institutions, primarily the Special Prosecutor’s Office for political calculation, political blackmail and racketeering. He has also shown that he is ready to kneel before Edi Rama and Ali Ahmeti just to stay in power. This has to stop! He knows he will lose the next elections and so he runs from them. But as I said, in order for the “Rocket” not to become a new “TAT” in which the big fish will save themselves and Macedonia will sink into crime and corruption we need elections! We can arrange them on talks with SDSM over the date of their holding, or let the citizens decide through mass protests this coming autumn. It’s Zaev’s choice!

And finally – I know there are many disappointed! Many who say – I don’t want neither of them. Angry at the previous VMRO-DPMNE government for wrongdoing especially in the last two years of its mandate, and angry at SDSM for being the most corrupt and incompetent government in the country’s history! But there is hope that this new VMRO-DPMNE team can offer it. I know you will say that these are just words for political propaganda, but believe us who spent the most beautiful years of our youth for Macedonia and make it a decent place to live and a place for proud citizens, now that we get a chance, when it is in sight, we will not miss it. Our top goal is capable, vital and free Macedonia. The ultimate goal is to harness the full potential of our plundered and humiliated homeland. In the end, Macedonia has so far not been given a real chance to show all the power it has because of corrupt, blackmailed or weak individuals. But we say enough! Believe that the best days of Macedonia are yet to come!

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik