The Republic of Macedonia’s former prime minister, Nikola Gruevski – the subject of an arrest warrant after failing to report for a prison sentence for corruption – said on Facebook on November 13 that he was in Hungary’s capital Budapest and would seek political asylum.
“In the recent days, I have received lots of threats to my life. Now I’m in Budapest where I’ve requested political asylum from Hungarian authorities. I shall always remain faithful to the Macedonian cause,” Gruevski wrote on his profile, the Independent Balkan News Agency reported.
Gruevski is is known for his ties to Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, who several months ago invited him to visit Budapest, but this was not possible because of the seizure of the former prime minister’s passport by the authorities, IBNA said.
Gruevski had been meant to report for jail on November 9, after his court appeal against his two-year sentence was rejected. Macedonia’s authorities could not find him and on November 12, a court in the former Yugoslav republic’s capital city Skopje issued a warrant for his arrest.
He was his country’s prime minister for 10 years, up to 2016, and was leader of the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE party, relinquishing that post after defeat in the most recent local elections. Gruevski sees his conviction as the result of political persecution.
Since Gruevski has been out of power, Macedonia has concluded a long-awaited bilateral good neighbourliness agreement with Bulgaria, and achieved an intergovernmental agreement with Greece on resolving the long-standing dispute over the use of the name “Macedonia”. In Skopje, the process in the legislature to amend the constitution to change the country’s name to “Republic of North Macedonia” is underway.