North Macedonia arrests former Speaker of Parliament and two former Ministers from VMRO-DPMNE party

LDSM Leader Zoran Zaev injured during violent storming of Macedonian Parliament

Skopje, North Macedonia | 21 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Police have arrested former speaker of parliament and two former ministers in North Macedonia, on charges of violent acts against parliament in 2017.

Prosecutors issuing the arrest warrants for former speaker Trajko Veljanoski, former minister for education Spiro Ristovski and former minister for transport Mile Janakieski, said the three former high officials were involved in violent acts which have threatened the constitutional order and security in state institutions.

Veljanoski, who benefits from parliamentary immunity, has denied charges and was released hours after his arrest. The three are leading figures of VMRO-DPMNE party of exiled former PM Nikola Gruevski.

A Skopje Court has today asked Parliament to revoke Veljanoski’s immunity, after he was charged by the state prosecutors on Wednesday.

In April 2017, tens of VMRO-DPMNE supporters stormed into the parliament building, injuring several MPs and journalists, including former social-democratic chair Zoran Zaev, currently the prime minister of the country.

Prosecutors have said that Veljanovski, Ristovski, and Janakieski were involved in a plot to block the parliament’s activity and prevent the peaceful transfer of power from VMRO-DPMNE to LSDM.

The violent acts by nationalists followed plans by Zaev’s LSDM and Albanian minority parties to approve a controversial law which would make Albanian the second official language of Macedonia.

Former VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski, currently on the run, is also under investigation on the matter, alongside 15 others.

Mr. Gruevski, who served as prime minister of Macedonia for 10 years from 2006 to 2016, has now fled the country and granted political asylum in Hungary, following a prison sentence on corruption charges.  

Following the election of social democratic leader Zoran Zaev to the premiership of Macedonia , the small Balkan country has agreed an historic deal with its southern neighbor Greece to change its name to ‘North Macedonia’ and has since signed a membership protocol with NATO, while it expects to formally start membership talks with the European Union later this year.

Last year, EU member states agreed to a European Commission recommendation to open accession talks for Macedonia to join the European Union, a scenario which looks more feasible now following the landmark agreement between Athens and Skopje.

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