Will Katica bury the new SPO?

Фото: Б. Грданоски

Next week, there will be a new meeting between the government and opposition working groups in an effort to iron out differences over the Prosecution Law. After the summer recess, SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE representatives will again sit at the table, but now in an even tougher political atmosphere than twenty days ago. The “Racket” affair and the role of Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva in the case further complicate the process, making it clear that even her withdrawal from the new law and the function at the State Public Prosecutor’s Office following her resignation from the SPO will be a sufficient maneuver to reach an agreement.

The ruling party SDSM says there has been no change of views in the past period, but they are ready to negotiate all remarks of the opposition on the proposed text of the law, including Janeva’s future.

“We will meet with our colleagues from the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, and then discuss whether we can find a middle ground. The new prosecution law, which also defines the future of the SPO, may not be the key to getting a date for negotiations with the European Union, which we hope will happen in October, but also crucial to the fight against high-level corruption and organized crime. We receive such messages daily from our partners in the international community, we believe that VMRO-DPMNE also knows this, and we will succeed in pushing the law forward,” SDSM said.

But the main opposition party says that recent events and footage of Katica Janeva’s voice in talks with Orce Kamchev have confirmed that the law proposed by the government must not be passed.

“Can you image that one of the decisions of SDSM’s law proposes that Janeva be transferred to the State Public Prosecutor’s Office. Had our country been a state with a rule of law just one bit, she would have been in detention long ago. And not only she, but also her fellow SPO colleagues. That is why we have said that none of the prosecutors and other SPO staff should be automatically transferred to the new Prosecutor’s Office for High Corruption and Organized Crime. Everyone is related to everyone there, everyone is a member of the ruling SDSM. Let them apply for the job, and then see it they get elected,” VMRO-DPMNE said.

Will there be a two-thirds majority

The opposition’s proposal is for SPO prosecutors to return to the prosecution offices where they were before getting transferred to the SPO, for all SPOcases to be taken over by the State Prosecutor’s Office and to establish financial independence not only for the new, but for the entire prosecution.

SDSM believes the key lies in the fact that VMRO-DPMNE wants to put an end to all cases against their former and current party officials, by taking away all cases from the SPO, which would be transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office. The assumption is that a lot of time will pass as the cases are reassigned to new prosecutors, to study them and then begin the process, etc.

Finding a solution for SPO, even without Katica Janeva, is the message that arrives from both Brussels and Washington. The ambassadors of the country to the most influential countries in the world send identical messages, and President Stevo Pendarovski repeated the same thing during his address on Monday.
“One prosecutor cannot put the work of the entire SPO into question. Not all prosecutors and judges are corrupt. Most are virtuous professionals with credibility,” Pendarovski said.Katic
Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi has scheduled a parliamentary session on August 27 and will then discuss the law proposed by the government. It will be the first parliamentary meeting with MPs after the month-long summer recess. Xhaferi expressed hope that by then there would be an agreement between the government and the opposition. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced that unless a compromise is reached by the beginning of September, he will apply other unpopular measures, without actually mentioning any.
“He thinks he will get a two-thirds majority with the help of bribery and pressure as he did for the voting on the name change. He is now neither in a position to dictate, nor to intimidate. He won’t have 80 MPs without accepting our remarks,” the opposition said confidently.

According to the text of the proposed law, the SPO will merge with the current Public Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and Corruption and will form a new Public Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and High Corruption with jurisdiction throughout the country and guarantees of independent action. All SPO prosecutors will continue to work in this new prosecution. Their mandate expires on September 15th, and they are eligible for re-election if they decide to run again. The new chief of Prosecutor’s Office would probably be Vilma Ruskovska, who is unacceptable to the opposition party. According to the law, the new prosecution chief sets the budget, and the government is obliged to accept it.

Negotiations on the census and the electoral model are currently on hold.

Goran Adamovski