The Hungarian government announced on Tuesday that it has granted the former Macedonian prime minister asylum and will not comply with Skopje’s request to extradite him to Macedonia to face a prison sentence for corruption.
“[Nikola] Gruevski, after receiving asylum in Hungary, can not be delivered to a country in which he is being persecuted,” Hungarian Justice Minister László Troszani said in an interview with Hungarian Echo TV, according to Radio Free Europe.
Troszani’s comments confirm a report by the Hungarian news site Magyar Idok that Hungary had granted Gruevski’s asylum claim on the grounds that he didn’t receive a fair trial in Macedonia due to the “condemnations made against him by the new government”.
Yesterday, the Macedonian justice ministry announced that it had formally filed an extradition request with Budapest.
Besides the abuse of office conviction for which he had been sentenced to two years in prison days before he fled for Hungary, Gruevski is fighting a number of other legal cases including one in which he is accused of wiretapping thousands of Macedonian citizens while he was prime minister.
In a Facebook post yesterday Gruevski explained his reasons for seeking asylum in Hungary citing ‘political persecution’ and ‘fundamental violations of the law’ by prosecutors including the use of ‘illegally acquired audio material’ in the court case against him.
On Monday, the Macedonian Foreign Ministry summoned Hungary’s ambassador to Skopje to demand that Budapest reject Gruevski’s asylum application. Macedonia also called on Hungary to “act in the spirit of good bilateral relations and European values” to ensure the return of the former leader of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, reports Radio Free Europe.
The European Commission has called on both countries to respect the rule of law. Responding to questions on “This is a judicial procedure that must not be politicised,” the EU spokesperson’s office told the website Balkan Insight.
“The rule of law is a fundamental principle of the European Union, for Member States and candidate countries alike. We expect all parties concerned to act strictly in line with the relevant rules,” the statement added.