The government in Spain fell early this summer. After more than six years of rule, the parliament in Madrid voted non-confidence of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for corruption scandals that shook his People’s Party. In less than ten days, after several former senior officials of the People’s Party were given draconian prison sentences for corruption (the former party treasurer was sentenced to 33 years in prison and one of the party’s financiers who received state tenders got 51 years in prison) Rajoy became the first Spanish prime minister to be replaced in parliament since the establishment of democracy in the country. He was forced to give up the position and was replaced by socialist Pedro Sánchez.
And while this dramatic shift of power was taking place in Spain, the government in Skopje faced quite different challenges. Macedonian authorities at the time were leading the final negotiations with Greece to overcome the long-standing name dispute. A month later, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was in the same location with the new Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez – at the NATO summit in Brussels, where our country received the membership invitation, thanks in particular to the recent bilateral agreement reached with Greece.
It is difficult, in fact, to draw any parallels between Spain and Macedonia, especially from the aspect of their positioning in international organizations. However, nowadays the comparison is imposed by itself in terms of corruption scandals that destroyed the government in Madrid just two months ago, while the local opposition is trying to use the delicate political moment to save the former party establishment from accountability – whose departure from the government building was indirectly extorted also with the discovery of a range of corruption cases. In that, precisely those cases are related to election irregularities and illegal financing of election campaigns.
The Macedonian opposition even took Macedonia’s full membership in NATO hostage, only in order to create a kind of amnesty for cases from the Thaler caliber, which not only covers the entire former ruling VMRO-DPMNE leadership, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski , but also the lavish party headquarters in the center of the capital. Many episodes of the Titanic case are even more characteristic, as one of the key cases opened by the SPO.
What overthrows governments in Spain and brings prison sentences lasting for half a century, in Macedonia, according to VMRO’s logic, should be erased as a crime or possibly the accountability to be materialized in a symbolic amount of money. Cases that were once treated as offenses until the European practice was established, according to which acts against elections and voting are considered serious criminal offenses, so until a few years ago neither the head of state could pardon them, according to the new logic, these offenses should be crossed with only four pens in the Club of Representatives. On the contrary, the opposition was ready to block the SEC’s election until recently, to sabotage the planned referendum on the name, and thus obstruct the achievement of the strategic goals of the state, such as EU and NATO membership.
The hopeful news that arrived yesterday is that VMRO-DPMNE is starting to deviate from what was called “indirect amnesty”. What is the reason for this can only be assumed for now.
Has Hristijan Mickoski finally understood the messages of the international factors that in the near future Macedonia will not have a second chance like this for achieving decades of dreams for Euro-Atlantic integration? Whether those in the White Palace accepted that the SPO was the focal point of the Przino agreement through the Thaler case, so that demanding “indirect amnesty” for cases arising from the so-called “bombs” means undermining one of the supporting pillars of the document out of the political crisis in the country, whose full implementation is placed again among the key criteria for the country before the start of the negotiations with the EU? Perhaps those at the party headquarters finally agreed that such requests for rapid interventions in systemic regulations, such as the Criminal Code, create an atmosphere of legal uncertainty, in which long-term prison sentences are intended for “voters”, while their leaders protect the party at any cost?
In fact, it is illogical to ask for a suspension of cases opened by the SPO on one hand, and on the other, to insist on recycling the Przino agreement in the part of the transitional government. But whatever the reasons for the concessions, it is now more important that such requests for direct or indirect amnesty should not be recycled at any future critical political moment, when the processes will again depend on the opposition. And most importantly, the blockades that hinder the implementation of the referendum, and eventually the other processes that clear the way to Brussels, have finally started to fall.
Aleksandra M. Mitevska