Hungary explains why “persecuted” former Macedonian PM deserves asylum

Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski fled his home country ahead of his two year prison sentence on a corruption-related conviction and has claimed political asylum in Hungary. Mr. Gruevski ignored the order to surrender to authorities on 9 November, in order to begin his prison sentence and instead escaped to Budapest. He claimed that he had no choice but to flee his homeland, after allegedly receiving death threats.

Fidesz communications director Balázs Hidvéghi, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, explained that while Hungary has no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, such as Macedonia, the ruling party is nonetheless convinced that Mr. Gruevski is a victim of George Soros and his left-wing conspiracy.

“A politician who is being persecuted and threatened by a left-wing government, clearly under the influence George Soros, has claimed political asylum in Hungary,” explained Mr. Hidvéghi. While in power, Mr. Gruevski was a close ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and it would appear as though Hungary is now prepared to harbour a convicted criminal and fugitive, assisting him in avoiding  his prison sentence.

Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (L) welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) in Ohrid, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 28 September 2017. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrived in Ohrid to meat the leader of opposition VMRO DPMNE and Former PM Nikola Gruevski on the start of election campaign for the local election. EPA-EFE/ALEKSANDAR KOVACEVSKI

It would appear that the convicted former politician left Macedonia illegally–using an unofficial border crossing and leaving without his valid passport, which had been confiscated by Macedonian authorities after his arrest. It follows from this that he would have also entered Hungary, and by extension the European Union, without a valid passport.

Mr. Gruevski, after a decade in power, was forced to resign following his involvement in a wiretapping scheme against some 20,000 political opponents and in the cover up of a murder committed by Macedonian police. In his 2017 criminal trial it also emerged that Mr. Gruevski illegally used his influence as prime minister to have the state procure a €600,000, bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz 600. After having failed to surrender on 9 November, the former prime minister is now considered a fugitive.

Macedonia’s government is demanding that Hungary immediately apprehend and deport the fugitive. According to media reports, Mr. Gruevski may have spent his first night in Hungary at a luxury hotel in Budapest–the Corinthia Hotel was specifically named. Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is demanding that Hungary not protect a convicted criminal who has harmed his own people. Mr. Zaev raised the absurdity of having a member state of the European Union become a place of refuge for criminals, disregarding international practices and norms. Macedonia’s Interior Ministry added that no valid reason exists for the former prime minister to be granted asylum in Hungary.

In a fine example of what passes for journalism in Fidesz circles, the internet propaganda tabloid Origo deflected the unpleasant attention of the Orbán regime harbouring a convicted criminal by publishing an unsigned article accusing former Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány of having met with Mr. Gruevski in 2006, during a visit to Skopje. Origo can count on the fact that Fidesz’s two and a half million voters won’t detect the absurdity of attacking the former Hungarian prime minister, merely because he met with a sitting prime minister in the region, 11 years before the Macedonian leader was actually accused or convicted of anything. The only silver lining in all of this, is that people who work for Origo at least have a slight sense of shame and prefer not to take personal responsibility for the rubbish that they produce.

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