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News 02 Mar 15

Macedonia PM Denies Planning Violence Against Opposition

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski denied that his ruling party is getting ready for possible violence against the opposition, which is demanding the government’s resignation over a mass eavesdropping scandal.



Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski | Photo by: vlada.mk

Gruevski, who insists that he has nothing with alleged wiretapping of more than 20,000 people, said that a press release issued by his VMRO DPMNE party had been misunderstood and was not calling for violence against government opponents.

In the press release, the VMRO DPMNE party called on its members to stand "strong and in tightened ranks" in defence of the "honour and national interests" of Macedonia.

It insisted that it would not let the opposition, which has published what is said were transcripts of some of the wiretapped conversations, carry out its "shameful and destructive strategy... for the destabilization of the country" and the violent take over of power. It also urged "all citizens to join this fight".

But Gruevski said that 'fight' did not mean physical attacks.

"With [the term] 'fight', we mean a political fight for Macedonia's progress, for the preservation of dignity, economic and democratic progress and a better life for all citizens," the Prime Minister explained.

The party issued the press release after the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM last month started unveiling the transcripts and accusing Gruevski and secret police chief Saso Mijalkov of masterminding a large-scale eavesdropping on opposition figures, government critics, journalists, the diplomatic community and others.

But the SDSM said that the press release was an attempt by Gruevski to rally his "nervous fellow party members".

"That is why he calls for the tightening of party ranks due to possible alleged destabilization. Gruevski and Mijalkov are those who are destabilizing the country," the SDSM said.

The SDSM held its first press conference about the telephone surveillance on February 9, when it alleged that over 20,000 people in the country of two million had been wiretapped. 

Four more press conferences have been held since then at which the opposition released further  batches of tapped conversations.

They appear to show the government routinely interfering with the workings of the judiciary and monitoring the conversations of scores of Macedonian journalists.

The opposition also released recorded telephone conversations about the 2011 arrest of former interior minister Ljube Boskovski, a strong government critic, and it was handled in the media. Zaev said the conversations showed Boskovski’s arrest was politically motivated and that the secret service chief Mijalkov knew what the verdict would be in advance.

Last week the SDSM revealed a fifth batch of tapped conversations, in which the Prime Minister and the Transport Minister Mile Janakieski appear to discuss and oversee the destruction of a rival’s building.

Zaev told a press conference that more batches of taped conversations are to follow, revealing violations at the elections in 2011, 2013 and 2014. 

"Think of all electoral irregularities that you could think of," Zaev said.

Gruevski, who has been in power since 2006, has denied the wiretapping allegations, blaming the scandal on an unnamed "foreign secret service" collaborating with Zaev.

Before he first made the wiretapping allegations, Zaev was also accused of blackmailing state officials in order to come to power.

Zaev has denied collaborating with foreign spies, insisted that all the conversations that he received originated from people who work in the domestic intelligence services.

Meanwhile as the political rift in the country continued to widen, the junior ruling ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, called on EU to help.

The party which might prove key for Gruevski's majority in parliament has demanded a formation of a special commission to deal with the scandal which among others would include the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU's Enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn and Foreign Affairs Representative Federica Mogherini, as well as both left and right'wing European MEPs.


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