Zaev: We expect Hungary to show that it won’t protect criminals

Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the Interior Ministry had acted in line with a court order and within its legal jurisdiction noting that the procedure for his extradition had been opened after the Hungarian interior ministry had sent a notification confirming Gruevski’s whereabouts in Budapest.

“Without a court order, the Interior Ministry cannot approach anyone, they cannot approach neither me nor any other citizen… The law was respected very strictly in a careful and democratic way,” Zaev said when asked about the Ministry’s responsibility in Gruevski’s escape at a joint press conference in Skopje with Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

On the police search of cars exiting the VMRO-DPMNE’s main offices, he said that law enforcement authorities acted in line with a national warrant for the arrest of Gruevski to serve his two-year prison sentence.

“There was no search warrant for a political party, no one had any intentions in that direction. Actions had been taken according to the orders. Our country strives to join the EU. Regardless of what we might feel, it doesn’t give us the right to break laws, especially not the institutions. All institutions and the citizens in Macedonia are expected to respect the laws,” said Zaev.

He said he expected Hungary to take actions in line with the international warrant for the extradition of Nikola Gruevski.

“We expect Hungary to show that it won’t protect criminals who have harmed the citizens of Macedonia. How can we, the candidate countries, be motivated, if an EU member becomes a haven of criminals and opts not to respect international law,” Zaev stressed.

The Prime Minister ‘strongly and categorically’ denied speculation about a political deal with Nikola Gruevski in connection to this case.

Asked who would be held responsible for Gruevski’s escape and whether it was part of the reconciliation process, Zaev stated that the government was committed to utmost transparency.

“Not a single institution made a mistake. Perhaps only if the border services made a slip-up and let him cross an official crossing, but we have already ordered investigation into the whole procedure,” stated Zaev.

According to him, the government cannot be blamed for everything. The government, Zaev said, acts in line with the law and has been always elaborating its actions publicly and transparently.

He said he was confident that all processes currently conducted would meet the expectations of the people, i.e. ‘all convicts, including Gruevski, to serve time.’

“Macedonia has a future only if there is punishment for crimes committed. Everyone that is convicted should serve time. We will do everything in our power to bring Gruevski back,” pledged PM Zaev adding that everyone should take responsibility, including the judiciary if there had been shortcomings in the process.