Priebe: We did not work for someone’s benefit but for justice

The group of experts always tried to be objective and neutral, its reports were not aimed against a certain political option for the benefit of another, they focused on problems not politicians and parties in the given moment, said Reinhard Priebe on Monday.
Priebe, who headed the group of senior rule of law experts to assess the situation of rule of law in 2015 and 2017, was given title Professor Honoris Cause at the Skopje-based FON University, presented for outstanding achievements in all walks of life.
“A team of five experts was working on the reports, which I hope, have helped in clearing up the situation and making the right decisions. Judicial reforms are now in EU’s focus and all these efforts are aimed at helping the country establish sound foundations for the rule of law and the judiciary. These reforms are in the interest of your country and not something that would satisfy the EU,” said Priebe.
He said progress has been made and added that deep political divisions in the country should be overcome.
Priebe said the Prespa Agreement is an exceptional achievement, highlighting the courage demonstrated by prime ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras.
“The Balkan affairs are usually not in the headlines of European countries, but the name agreement was, seen as a big achievement,” said Priebe and also mentioned the benefits of the Bulgaria Friendship Treaty.
According to him, the Prespa Agreement has opened the NATO doors, adding that the EU accession would be longer and more painful.
“The Government and a large majority in the country have big hopes that negotiations will start this summer and the authorities are determined to do everything in their power to remove the obstacles and move the country forward,” added Priebe.
However, he said there are significant shortcomings in the rule of law and the functioning of democratic institutions, the main aspects in the focus of Brussels and member-states.
“EU is not heaven on Earth and the Union is facing difficult times,” said Priebe in reference to Brexit, the migration issue, lack of rule of law and democratic standards in certain members, and fight against corruption.
FON University professor Nano Ruzin said Priebe has become the best connoisseur of the Balkans and its political anomalies, telling Macedonian experts that changes are possible only if they change themselves.
“Reinhard Priebe dived into the essence of our Balkan spirit and mentality, our politicians and politicos, the multiethnicity and diversification of religions, traditions and the different mosaic of cultures in the factors of tension and destabilization, crime and corruption,” noted the professor.