Hungarian news portal azonnali.hu asked the European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, its opinion on the Gruevski case. It said the case should not be politicized and it expects everyone to act strictly in accordance with the rule of law. According to the Commission, Macedonia has strengthened its rule of law.
The spokesperson of the Commission said it is aware of the Gruevski case but, according to relevant EU legislation, it is up to the member states to examine and decide on individual refugee applications. However, the Commission is expecting each party to act strictly in accordance with the rules—without politicizing the case—as the rule of law is the guiding principle in both the Member States and the candidate countries.
The rule of law remains a fundamental principle for member states and accession candidates alike. It is crucial for Europe’s credibility. Surprising that Hungary supports Macedonia’s EU membership but does not consider it safe.
Previously, the Hungarian government noted that it considers the Gruevski case to be strictly a legal issue and not a political one.
The commission also pointed out that, after years of downturn, Macedonia has strengthened its rule of law as reflected by the European Council’s findings in June 2018.
Although the Commission did not answer Azonnali’s question of whether or not it will discuss the Gruevski case with the Hungarian government, it called attention to EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn’s tweet from Wednesday: “I take note of reports about Hungary’s decision to grant political asylum to Nikola Gruevski. If confirmed, I expect a sound explanation of its grounds by Viktor Orbán.” Hahn added that it is “surprising that Hungary supports [Macedonia’s] EU membership but does not consider it safe.”
At the same time, Jobbik announced yesterday that they will confer with the European Commission about the Gruevski case and whether Macedonia is in compliance with the rule of law. According to Márton Gyöngyösi, leader of the party’s parliamentary group, if Macedonia complies with the rule of law, then the situation is clear and the government should extradite Gruevski to Macedonia.
Gruevski held office between 2006 and 2016. An arrest warrant was issued last week after he failed to report to jail to serve a two-year sentence for corruption. Last Tuesday, he announced on his Facebook page that he was in Budapest and had requested political asylum. Skopje submitted extradition documents to Budapest on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó admitted that the staff of the Hungarian Embassy aided Nikola Gruevski in coming to Hungary. This week, Gruevski was granted asylum in Hungary–with an unusually quick five-day procedure.