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Macedonia: Former Leader on the Lam

Macedonia: Former Leader on the Lam
Our final topic, picked by you, dear listeners, earlier in a poll on our Facebook page, is “Macedonia: Former Leader On The Lam”, focusing on Nikola Gruevski’s great escape to Hungary.

Former Macedonian premier Nikola Gruevski recently fled to Hungary and received asylum to escape imprisonment on what he alleged are politically motivated charges of corruption, with this high-profile international drama reminding everyone that his country's crisis is still far from over. Current Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who came to power after a two-year-long Color Revolution fraught with Hybrid War intrigue and allegations of a ‘constitutional coup', is a diehard Atlanticist who's accused by the opposition of carrying out a witch hunt against the former ruling party under the cover of the so-called "special prosecution office" that was set up a few years ago.

His domestic political crusade has come to take on important international dimensions because Zaev decided to push through his country's controversial "name agreement" with Greece in spite of the recent referendum on this issue failing to meet the constitution's stipulated turnout to make it legal. Worse still, some Macedonians claim that he's using the "special prosecution office" and other institutional tools such as the intelligence services to blackmail opposition parliamentarians into going along with this measure, which if successful would lead to his country being fast-tracked into NATO at the expense of its precious national identity.

Returning back to Gruevski, his recently granted asylum in Hungary allows him to continue his people's struggle abroad by raising awareness of Zaev's brazen efforts to dismantle Macedonia's national identity in exchange for NATO membership, to say nothing of the unsavory tactics that he's accused of carrying out in pursuit of this goal. It also makes the former premier Macedonia's top political dissident, as well as lending credence to the claims that his country's current government is suppressing democracy through its authoritarianism. All told, this could encourage more protests against Zaev and the "name agreement" with Greece, thus bringing more international attention to the country.

It can be expected that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will probably come under sustained US, EU, and NATO pressure because of his decision, though it seems unlikely at this point in time that Gruevski's good personal friend will betray him by turning the former premier into a "bargaining chip", as this could have already happened prior to granting him asylum if it was really Orban's intent to do so. Therefore, the stage appears set for a showdown between Hungary and its international partners, as well as between Zaev and the responsible members of the international community who are concerned about the increasingly anti-democratic tendencies of Macedonia's post-Color Revolution leader.

Andrew Korybko is joined by Alexandar Davidoff, Macedonian political observer and Marija Kotovska, Macedonian journalist who previously worked as a long-time correspondent in Athens.

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