Press conference of the President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski

12 August 2019 | Press Releases, Speeches

This past month we have witnessed the unravelling of this elaborate criminal affair that has shaken the foundations of important state institutions,callinginto question, now more than ever before, the citizens’ trust in us, the politicians, andthe trust in their own country.

Even at the very beginning of the affair “Racket”, I publicly expressedmy disappointment with what I heard and called for a swift and thorough investigation. Instead, the authorities went on vacation, as if this was their routine everyday case, which clearly it is not so.

The audio and video recordings shared by the media the past few days caused deep disappointment among all citizens, especially those who, for years at the cost of constant pressure and threats from former government officials, protested daily demanding justice. The revolt among our citizens is immense and quite justified. And I, as a citizen, as a person, not only as President, I am disappointed because this also betrayed the expectations and trust I had in the people that we expect to fight for the rule of law.

I am aware of my responsibility as president of all citizens, and of my duty to protect the interests of the country and its citizens, its prosperity and security, and the achievement of the strategic foreign policy goals – NATO and the EU,towards which,in the past two years, we have acquired a considerable momentum. Therefore, I urge the competent institutions to:

  1. Ensure anefficient, quick and thorough completion of the investigation respecting the principle of presumption of innocence,
  2. If there is evidence,file charges against everyone involved, regardless of whether they are public officials or not,
  3. Apart from their criminal and legal liability, if there is any other connection with the case, in terms of providing protection of persons under investigation, I insist on the political responsibility of politicians, both from the government and the opposition. In this context, it is best and I urge all those whose names have been mentioned, regardless of whether this has been done on purpose, only to discredit them, to volunteer to make statements before the competent prosecutor to show that we are all equal before the law and accountable to the general public. The public has the right to know our views, even if we are dealing with incredulous concoctions or speculations produced with dishonest intentions.
    I strongly believe that we, the politicians, are more responsible than the other citizens, therefore our, possible, unlawful acts should be examined with caution and even stricter punishments compared to thepunishments for the normal citizens. In this sense, I expect an increased monitoring by the media, and I believe that it should be less important as to who provided or distributed the videos, and that we should rather focus on the content of the talks, and whether they are true or not. In addition, I urge the media, of course, without prejudice to the freedom of the media, to carefully check the information published by various parties, because fake news are not intended to inform the public, but to undermine the faith of our citizens in the justice and our state institutions.
  4. As President I give full support to the competent institutions, especially the prosecution and the court, and I will use all constitutional and legal powers to protect them from pressure. Moreover, I will use all my legal powers to protect our national security from any attempts to harm or threatenit, either from the outside, or from within.

Dear citizens,
This difficult situation puts the legal state and the rule of law, the competent authorities and all of us, the responsible politicians, under a huge test. If the competent judicial authorities get to the bottom of this ordeal, and I repeat – I expect them to do nothing less, in that case, we will be able to prove that the system really works, and that is the best way to restore the trust of the citizens and the general public in the persecution. Otherwise, we risk our citizens to lose faith in all of us, the politicians in the country, but, this time, for good.
From what has been publicly known so far, unfortunately, it is certain that people of different profiles have been involved. In the recently released audio recordings, we can hear audible voice of businessmen, even the voice of afemale prosecutor. Also, the names of several prominent personalities are being mentioned as well. I repeat –liability and accountability have to exist, both vertical and horizontal. The liability and penalties must be enforcedfor all those whose fault will be proven,regardless of whether they are prosecutors, members of political parties, businessmen, politicians. Nobody should be above the law in this country.No person’s party or political affiliation should be stronger than justice itself. Those who do not know, or respect, this should give way to those who know and respect this premise.

Dear citizens,
The same as I trusted and publicly defended the institution of the Special Prosecutor’s Office in the past 4 years, today, I strongly believe that our country truly needs an institution to fight against high-level corruption and crime of officials. Withits past work, the Special Prosecutor’s Office, not the individuals, but the institution, together with the Prespa Agreement, made a major contribution to the release of the captured state and our approximation to NATO and the EU. All previous investigations of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, all the evidence cannot and should not be declared invalid per se, even if it is proven that some prosecutors have acted against the law. The possible individual responsibility of a prosecutor cannot call into question the enormous effort of the entire prosecution and the presented evidence in the legal proceedings.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office, positioned inside the system of the regular public prosecution, should continue to investigate the crimes of the previous government, but also the crimes of this government and any government in the future. We cannot speak of a legal state and a rule of law if the government in power pursues and prosecutes only the criminals of the previous government, and not the criminals in their ranks.

Dear all,
Not all prosecutors in the Special Prosecutor’s Office and in the regular prosecution are corrupt, not all judges are corrupt. Most prosecutors and judges are virtuous professionals with integrity. In this country, we have enough honest and capable people with character. However, the main role here should be played by the politicians, and it is here that I see that we have made acardinal mistake. Generations of politicians missed the given opportunity, long ago, to create a setting in which the honest and professional staff in the judicial and prosecutorial system will do their job without pressure from the side, leaving the corrupt to face justice. However, it is not too late for us to star doing this today, sooner rather than later.
All politicians are not the same. We won citizens’ trust by claiming that we are not the same as those before us, but we have to prove this virtually every day. In this regard, I firmly intend to give my unwavering contribution, without any reservations.




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