At the initiative of the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament called today on Hungary to extradite to Skopje Nikola Gruevski, the former Macedonian Prime Minister who fled to Hungary after being sentenced to prison in Skopje on corruption charges, and was granted asylum by the Hungarian government. For the S&D Group, it is the only possible way to proceed if the EU wants to remain credible towards countries aspiring to join. The EU cannot have one rule for them and another rule for us.
The S&Ds amendment calling for the extradition of Mr Gruevski was adopted on the occasion of the vote on the progress reports on five Western Balkans countries. These reports on Serbia, Montenegro, FYR of Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania assess reforms and put forward recommendations for each country – with the rule of law, justice, media freedom and the fight against corruption being the main priorities.
During the debate, the S&D MEPs emphasised again that EU enlargement is a powerful tool to stabilise and foster peace in Europe’s immediate neighbourhood. Therefore, we remain committed to the accession process of the Western Balkans countries.
“What Hungary did in the case of Gruevski is a dangerous precedent. Never in the history of the EU has a member state organised such an extradition operation. This is a blow in the face of the EU. Each year, the EU adopts its recommendations asking countries aspiring to join our Union to respect a wide range of criteria. The fight against corruption and the respect for the rule of law are our most important demands. This is exactly what the Macedonian justice system did in the case of Mr Gruevski. The EU Enlargement Policy will not be credible if we cannot get our own house in order – Hungary should immediately extradite Mr Gruevski to Skopje. We cannot say there is one rule for them and another rule for us,” said S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, Victor Boştinaru MEP.
“The European Union has to keep its promises to our friends in the Western Balkans: they should be a part of our EU family as soon as the accession criteria are met. We should ensure that the European elections do not slow down the reform process in the candidate countries nor fail their European aspirations. This means opening the accession negotiations with Albania and FYR of Macedonia, at the latest next year, in recognition of the efforts made by both countries, and granting visa liberalisation to Kosovo without undue delay. We also need more projects in the whole region of the Western Balkans with visible and tangible benefits for ordinary people,” added S&D foreign affairs spokesperson and the EP rapporteur on Albania, Knut Fleckenstein MEP.