The government and the opposition are making the final attempt to bring their views on the prosecution law closer. Following the failure of the meeting between SDSM leaders Zoran Zaev and VMRO-DPMNE’s Hristijan Mickoski, as well as negotiations between the working groups, the prime minister’s and opposition leader’s advisers Bojan Maricic and Timcho Mucunski are now taking the issue in their hands. After their meeting, the two largest parties in the country made suggestions on how to untie the knot, and if there is progress – the process will be reversed: a new working group meeting, and eventually another leadership meeting.
According to the information we have received from both parties, it is only agreed that the head of the new prosecution for organized crime and corruption be nominated by the opposition. But apart from the form, the essence is different in both SDSM’s headquarters on Bihach Street and the so-called “White Palace” of VMRO-DPMNE.
VMRO-DPMNE sources briefed Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent Daily that they have proposed the current Basic Prosecution Office for Organized Crime and Corruption headed by Vilma Ruskovska to merge with the disbanded Special Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“Ruskovska will have guaranteed independence and will handle cases such as the “April 27” and the “Racket”, just like before. But we will choose the head of the new prosecution. Of course, in accordance with the government and with the final approval of the Council of Public Prosecutors. We envisioned control mechanisms over the election of a new boss. First, we have tightened the criteria, there will have to be more experience and knowledge. Then, the government will be able to reject our first proposal, and then the second, after which we will proceed to a positive selection and dialogue. If it fails, we submit a list of three names to the Council of Prosecutors and they will choose one of them. For SPO cases now being transferred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, a legal framework would be created so that they can be transferred to the new Prosecution Office, which will be responsible for handling organized crime and high-profile corruption cases. State Prosecutor Ljubomir Joveski will have the last say, but he will have no actual obstacle for transfering the cases to the new Prosecution”, claims a senior VMRO-DPMNE official.
SDSM, meanwhile, responded that there was no progress in the negotiations. According to the ruling party, VMRO-DPMNE sticks to the idea of stifling all cases that have been opened by the SPO.
“Perhaps it is considered a somewhat progress that, so far, VMRO-DPMNE hasn’t formally accepted a merger of the Prosecutor’s Office for organized crime with the SPO, and now it even says that it doesn’t bother the party. However, on our note that all new SPO prosecutors should be transferred to the new Prosecutor’s Office for a period of at least one year, in order for the cases not to enter a legal vacuum, obsolescence or delay of processes – by VMRO-DPMNE no. agree. They are demanding that SPO prosecutors apply for the job if they want to work in the new Prosecutor’s Office. It seems logical, but in that case, months will be wasted until the procedure is completed, then the cases would have to be reassigned, and then a new hearing to be scheduled, etc. Negotiations are difficult because there are people in the VMRO-DPMNE negotiation team who are directly concerned with the SPO cases and they are trying their best to undermine the process”, SDSM official told Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent Daily.
The transfer of cases from the special to the ordinary prosecution has ruled out the need for urgent resolution of the problem, but it remains extremely important to find a solution to the law on which the start of accession negotiations with the European Union may depend.
Can a professor be the new head of the prosecution?
MP Antonio Miloshoski, who is part of the VMRO-DPMNE negotiating team on the prosecution law, said yesterday that he received a proposal a few days ago from a government team that had changed from the previous one a month ago. It reportedly lacks a proposal by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, according to which the opposition should nominate the head state prosecutor.
“However, we responded in writing. We expect to discuss it in the next couple of days, and to meet again by the end of this week”, Miloshoski said.
He says it is enough to come up with new hybrid solutions, such as the one to split the prosecution for organized crime and corruption into two, making one prosecution a high-profile corruption case.
“We think the current standard model should be maintained. The prosecution of high-profile prosecution of crime and corruption should remain as the only, undivided prosecution that will assume the responsibilities of the current SPO. In the methodology for the election of the new prosecutor, the opposition, the Parliament and The Committee on Elections and Appointment Issues will play an important role. Regarding the choice itself, we propose a methodology that will ensure that the government will not have the last word and elect a government-appropriate prosecutor like Ruskovska. Instead, the opposition is proposing one person from those who will bid for the position. If that proposal fails – the procedure will be repeated. If that proposal fails in theory, then the opposition and the ruling majority have the opportunity to jointly nominate a person to the Council of Public Prosecutors. If that does not happen, then the opposition reserves the right to nominate three candidates to the Council of Public Prosecutors who will decide according to the high standards in the law that they will be elected prosecutor for organized crime and corruption”, Miloshoski said.
He also pointed out that the government and the opposition have different views on whether persons who are not part of the prosecution, but competent academic staff, above all professors, can be elected as the new head of the prosecutor’s office.
Zaev: proposal for PPO law worth the attention
– Any proposal is worth the attention, our objective is to reach an agreement, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Monday regarding the draft-law on the public prosecutor’s office that VMRO-DPMNE submitted earlier in the day.
“Proposals will be reviewed in working group meetings and we must not allow for politicians and parties to change prosecutors as they wish. Vilma Ruskoska has a four-year term and she and the prosecutor’s office she heads handle many cases. We should not send a message that politicians secretly agree on something in the sector where this is illegal – the independent judiciary,” said PM Zaev told reporters.
Asked if there would be a fresh leaders’ meeting, the PM said working groups would signal if the issues’ settlement required the presence of party leaders.
“This is not something that we have to decide for the purpose of getting a date for accession negotiations. This is important for the people. We are prepared to make the next step. I believe working groups will signal the leaders whether their intervention is needed or not,” said Zaev.
He reiterated it is important to ensure continuity of cases, which is the minimum required by the people and the European Union.