Former Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski. Photo: Georgi Licovski/EPA.
Ousted Macedonian prime minister and former VMRO DPMNE party leader Nikola Gruevski has condemned the agreement that his successor reached with Greece over the country’s name, telling the Serbian TV station Pink on Sunday that Zoran Zaev had “scammed” the people when he reached the agreement.
Nationalists in the country remain highly critical of the deal under which Macedonia changed its name to North Macedonia in return for Greece vowing to lift its veto on its neighbour’s EU and NATO membership bids.
Gruevski said Zoran had not been honest in his intentions. “The people feel tricked: at rallies, Zaev would say there’s no chance of changing the name of Macedonia, he even swore that on his children on some show. That is a great scam,” Gruevski said.
According to TV Pink, Gruevski said that Greek politicians had seen a “chance that comes once in a hundred years” had and seized it to force an unfavourable deal on the country.
“There is a part of the agreement that says all antique history is exclusively related to Greece and that the other party, meaning us, has nothing to do with it,” he said, referencing his government’s battle with Greece over history and historical personages that Greece claimed as Hellenic cultural property.
Gruevski also told the pro-government Serbian TV station that Serbia had not been involved in his decision to flee Macedonia in order to avoid serving a prison term on corruption charges.
“From Tirana, through Montenegro and Serbia, I arrived in Hungary. Transportation was provided by Hungarian diplomats, which is already known,” the former Macedonian leader said, while accusing the now-ruling Social Democratic Party of Macedonia, SDSM, of political persecution.
After courts found Gruevski guilty of the illicit purchase of a luxury limousine, he was supposed to report to start serving his two-year jail term on November 9, 2018, but failed to do so.
He escaped to neighbouring Albania and managed to reach Hungary, which has granted him asylum.
Gruevski was prime minister of Macedonia from 2006 to 2016. His VMRO DPMNE party was ousted in 2017 after a prolonged political crisis in which he and his close associates were accused of authoritarian rule and corruption.
Several other court cases and investigations against Gruevski are ongoing in Macedonia.