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Macedonia Summons Hungarian Envoy Over Ex-Prime Minister's Escape

Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (file photo)
Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (file photo)

The Macedonian Foreign Ministry has summoned Hungary's ambassador to Skopje to formally demand that the government in Budapest reject an asylum application by fugitive former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

The ministry said in a statement on November 19 that State Secretary Viktor Dimovski handed over a "note of protest" to Ambassador Laszlo Dukes as a result of Gruevski's escape to Hungary earlier this month to avoid prison time.

The Hungarian government was also urged to "act in the spirit of good bilateral relations and European values" to ensure the return of the 48-year-old former leader of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party.

Gruevski, who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2016, was sentenced in May to two years in prison for unlawfully influencing Interior Ministry officials over the purchase of a luxury vehicle valued at 600,000 euros ($680,000).

Facing jail after his appeal was rejected on November 9, Gruevski fled to Hungary, a European Union member, where he sought asylum.

In the past, Gruevski has indicated he was close to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose government has formally denied having actively provided assistance in his escape.

In 2017, Orban offered his public backing to Gruevski during his campaign for municipal elections, in which his party lost to the ruling Social Democrats.

Gruevski is still facing three other trials, including over a major wiretapping scandal, and could be handed longer sentences than the one already given to him.

He claims the cases are politically motivated.

With reporting by AP and AFP

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