Weeding the vineyard

Weeding the vineyard

Erol Rizaov

If politicians agree to defend citizens and state interests by enabling the judiciary and the competent institutions to work smoothly in the fight against crime, as criminals do successfully when they agree to rob both the state and the citizens, then Macedonia will thrive. However, if powerful politicians and givers of justice are corrupt or in the service of criminals, there will be neither a state, nor citizens. These are paraphrases of the thoughts of wise people who have been said about crime and corruption as global evils, but they fit perfectly with the Macedonian painful and criminal transition, especially now after the latest scandal with the “Racket” affair that shocked the entire country.

Macedonia now has to retake the exam on the capacity of statehood, whether the rule of law would win, or criminals under the protection of politics. Sudden and disappointing to some, expected and understandable to others, however a tragic discovery at a time when Europe sends positive messages to our country as an example in the region, and when our friends in the world create a good climate to set a date for starting negotiations with the EU. There are those who are certain that and intelligence services have interfered in the future of the country, but there are even more people who believe and rushed to decide that the SPO icon, Katica Janeva, threw the biggest blow and the final compromise of her own success and everything that the SPO has achieved in the past few years of a tough fight against the crime of the white collars at the peak of power.

But it is what it is, Macedonia should effectively deal with this evil, of course, if the state works properly. Bad things happen so we can appreciate the good, goes the famous saying. If there is a just and swift investigation, a judicial resolution for everyone involved in this affair, without exception and without the selection of culprits, then, obviously, someone chose a very wrong way to gain power. Conversely, if the participation of the perpetrators in this criminal act is ignored, but also of all previous criminals, who are being tried and involved in the “Racket” affair and with all cases of the SPO and the regular public prosecution, it will mean a freefall of the government, and worse, the reputation of the country, with a high degree of certainty that the EU negotiations will be closed indefinitely with no one to blame but ourselves, with no one blocking us from outside.

There is no compensation for these damages in the future of the country. The stakes are too high for everything that has been accomplished over the past two years on the road to the EU to be wiped out by someone, whether it was the prime minister, the president of the country, the public prosecutor or a supreme judge. We all have to reap what we sow. The good news is that Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was personally the first one to report to public prosecutors that businessmen complained of being blackmailed. The bad news is that except for one, so far none of those who complained that they were blackmailed has volunteered to testify. It is a great illusion that both the government and the opposition, the public and the media give full support seeking accountability from those who violated the law. How fake it is you will discover quite easily because you do not have to read between the lines. Some people report suspicion of racketeering and seek equal justice, while others seek resignation from person who reported the racketeering and want to go straight to snap elections. Who wants what – When it comes to elections, Hristijan Mickoski expressly came out to the public with a firm stance that the most important date at the moment is when the early parliamentary elections will be scheduled, It is the only topic he is willing to negotiate with in the criminal state. Anything else is less important.

Mickoski would have achieved a much greater effect if he came out with the firm stance that at the moment the most important thing is to give full support for the smooth operation of the two prosecutors in the fight against crime and corruption and successfully completing all open cases. Prosecutor’s offices are not the ones that hold trials, courts do that, given that independent courts are often possible, as well as acquittals of charges if guilt has not been proven. However, Mickoski didn’t waste any time and immediately declared death of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office, and on the same day the response from several parties came that the SPO, even without Katica Janeva and after her resignation, should continue with its work, which remains a precondition for starting accession negotiations with the EU. Either Mickoski is well-informed o=by the blackmailed businessmen, or gets first-hand information from the investigation. He was probably mistakenly informed by the same sources that the government planned to arrest him, which encouraged him to alarm the public that he was also a victim of persecution. However, in the opening of the “Racket” case, he sees an opportunity to abolish the SPO and destroy all open cases, as there have already been attempts in the media to contest everything that the SPO has done. That is why VMRO-DPMNE’s call for the rule of law is not as strong as the party’s call for destroying the SPO.

There was an incredible act of hope just over three years ago when, under strong domestic, civil and international pressure, a political agreement was reached to form a Special Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the crime of top officials exposed by the so-called “bombs” from illegally wiretapped phone conversations.

Many of us believed and were strongly convinced, that it was the best thing that could have happened to citizens who lived in fear in a robbed and captured state for over a decade. I still believe that the SPO is the best thing that has happened to us, although we all know how honest was the agreement between the politicians to get rid of the crime that is choking Macedonia, as some of the signatories of the agreement were the most controversial holders of organized crime and corruption, which later turned out to be true.

The work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office has been hindered since its first day of formation. From that day on, political hypocrites, and not just them, but almost all of the judicial authorities started the special war for compromising the SPO, in which participated the then-prime minister, the former head of state, ministers, prosecutors, judges in all instances of the justice system, from the court of misdemeanors to the Appellate, Supreme and Constitutional Court, MPs, Parliament, police, journalists and media and counter-intelligence services. You will be surprised, but the obstruction to justice is an unpunishable crime in Macedonia. I have repeatedly stated that the start of the work of the SPO was to be with a precise and clear law for draconian prison sentences for disrupting investigation and justice, especially when the rule of law is hindered by political holders of power, judges and prosecutors and holders of functions in the justice system. The SPO was faced with pressures for two years, not less powerful after the fall of Nikola Gruevski’s regime, even after the verdict of prison sentence and when several court cases for serious crimes are under way. In our country, the interrupters of justice persistently seek authority to abolish their criminals and close political opponents.

An attempt to obstruct justice, depending on the gravity of the offense, can end with a long-term prison sentence, in some difficult cases and over 20 years. In Macedonia, there is no precise law that is all about obstruction of justice, which is why insanity and arrogance have come to the point where the main obstacles to law and justice are those who need to respect and enforce laws most urgently. This is what I wrote four months ago, as well as two years ago, and even three years ago.

P.S. Last Friday, I finished my column writing that the message in a bottle has arrived to the citizens of Macedonia that was released in the northern seas 30 years ago. Many of my readers asked me what was written in the message. So, I will let you know. The message reads: “The gold is in the vineyard, you need to thoroughly weed it. Next autumn you will find the treasure left by your ancestors.” So, now it your turn to explain what you understand when it comes to thorough weeding.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik