Aleksandra M. Mitevska
Many probably remember Saso Mijalkov’s famous quote in one of the so-called “bombs” published by the former opposition, dedicated to staff rigging in the judiciary: “The stone is coming from a close range,” said the then director of the UBK to the longtime deputy prime minister for the Framework Agreement DUI’s ranks – Musa Xhaferi, who, confused by Mijalkov’s line, replied with a question – “The stone…?”
In the past few years, after the ever-ruling DUI has changed its partner from Ilinden Street, almost no one knows where Musa Xhaferi is. However, everyone knows where the untouchable Saso Mijalkov is since Tuesday evening.
From the luxury Marriott hotel on the Skopje square, he was relocated to the perhaps most notorious Macedonian prison – Sutka penitentiary. At that time, there were a dozen persons who received the treatment of political persecuted in the international reports given the many failures in the procedures for their criminal prosecution, as well as for the abuses of the detention measure.
In the “detonations” that came from SDSM headquarters, in fact, there were still many indicators of how the judiciary in the country functioned at that time and its exaggerated symbiosis with the executive power. Regarding the atmosphere and the conditions in the penal-correctional institutions, one should recall another of the “bombs” in which Mijalkov’s voice resounds, which is now part of the Torture trial – dedicated to the arrest of Ljube Boskoski.
And now, when the administration of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban justifies the decision to give Gruevski’s asylum to the weaknesses in the Macedonian justice system and the poor prison conditions, which, according to the assessments of the European institutions, is a question of whether Budapest actually refers to the reports from Gruevski’s rule, and not the present government’s reports. Since the European Commission’s report for last year, on the basis of which Macedonia received this summer a conditional recommendation to start negotiations with the European Union, states that the judicial system has reached a certain level of preparation and that the decline from previous years is changing through decisive steps, especially in recovery the independence of the judiciary.
At the June summit of the European Council in Brussels, Hungary was not among countries that were skeptical about Macedonia’s progress in fulfilling the criteria, especially in the political column, where it is insisting on judicial reforms. However, a few months later, the Hungarian authorities showed skepticism about the conditions in the prison where the former Macedonian prime minister would stay for two weeks, if he did not cross the state border in time and did not seek refuge in this EU and NATO member state.
From that aspect, it is questionable whether the other EU members will agree with Orban’s estimates when next summer they will have to decide whether the conditioned recommendation for Macedonia is to become a real recommendation? In case they agree, Hungary can become a desirable asylum route for all currently suspected and accused in the cases of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office, but also for those who in the past years have felt the weaknesses of the Macedonian judiciary and the terrible conditions in detention and prisons – even before those institutions become “transit addresses” for Gruevski, Mijalkov and many of their associates in the period when they were at the top of rule and power.
Actually, it is far from the fact that law enforcement authorities and judicial institutions in Macedonia suddenly started functioning perfectly. Gruevski’s escape and the impressive flaws of the domestic authorities and institutions in this regard are a clear indicator that serious weaknesses and the need for thorough reforms are still in place. Mijalkov’s sudden detention, on the other hand, is an ironic indication of how realistic his remark about ‘the stone coming from a close range’.
For the current Macedonian authorities, the stone came from Hungary, which is neither politically nor geographically distant, nor an unattainable destination, as it was seen in the case of Gruevski. For Mijalkov, the stone came from an even closer range if one takes into account his close relations with Gruevski and their close cooperation in the government until the so-called “bombs” from the SDSM headquarters began when the two cousins were named as the main screenwriters of the mass wiretapping. Now one of them is an asylum seeker in Hungary, while the other is a detainee in the Sutka prison – where the first one was supposed to be if he did not see Orban’s protection in time.