Two top Macedonian officials quit amid wiretapping allegations

Interior minister and intelligence chief resign in Macedonia in wake of wiretapping allegations which embattled PM Gruevski in recent months

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Macedonia’s minister of internal affairs and head of intelligence resigned on Tuesday as the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his government were under pressure from opposition’s wiretapping allegations since early this year.

Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska and intelligence chief Saso Mijalkov have quitted following the mass demonstrations over wiretapping allegations made by Zoran Zaev, the leader of Social Democratic Union of Macedonia.

Jankulovska and Mijalkov’s resignations were immediately linked to the wiretapping scandal on which the main opposition led-by Zaev has been boiling the tension inside Macedonia.

The resignations have been perceived as an appeasement of the protesters who say they will take to the streets on Sunday to demand the Gruevski’s resignation.

The nine-year incumbent Macedonian PM Gruevski has been involved in a wiretapping scandal with his main opponent Zaev.

Mijalkov, Gruevski’s cousin, said he hoped his departure would "help in overcoming the political crisis imposed by the opposition ... in the knowledge that the truth and arguments are on our side," in his resignation letter presented to the post of Prime Ministry.

Interior Minister Jankulovska also said her resignation would help bring the crisis to an end "in these difficult days."

Zaev in recent months has published some wiretapping records which he claims include voices purported to be of Gruevski and his senior official.

Zaev alleged in the records that Gruevski and his closest men were discussing how to employ members of the ruling rightist Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO) in state jobs, together with picking members of judiciary and swaying of elections.  

Gruevski denied the allegations by dismissing wiretapping records as he implied there was a foreign-funded plot against him and his government to prevent the country's bid from joining the European Union (EU).

Last week Macedonian prosecutors convicted Zaev of alleged links to the wiretapping and corruption scandal while he further claimed that his party has more than 100,000 conversations and 18,000 text messages that could “prove” his claims.In retaliation, Zaev had published another wire-tapping audio file last week Tuesday through which he condemned Gruevski and Interior Ministry of hiding the death of a 22-year-old who was allegedly beaten to death by a police officer in 2011.

But the Interior Minister Jankulovska denied Zaev’s accusations and stated that the aforementioned police was already sentenced to 14 years in prison with murder charge. The ministry also accused Zaev of exploiting such a tragic death for his political gains.

The quitting of both top officials also coincided with the Sunday’s events when at least eight police officers and 14 members of an “armed group” have been killed after a day-long clash in northern Macedonian city of Kumanovo near Kosovo border.

Kumanovo was one of the places where Macedonia’s ethnic Albanians densely populated and staged the ethnic uprising in May 2001.

Ethnic Albanians constitute nearly a quarter of Macedonia's total population and live near by the borders with Albania and Kosovo.

The deadly clashes in Kumanovo alarmed the West about stability of the southeastern Europe where the EU integration came to fore as a blueprint vision for the regional governments.

Macedonia has been negotiating its membership with the EU from 2005 onwards, but the country’s border issues with Greece and its name have created some problems between the coterminous nations.

Greece recognises Macedonia as “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” rather than the Republic of Macedonia and vetoed the country’s some chapters in EU negotiations and its full membership in the NATO alliance.

TRTWorld and agencies