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Nov 16, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Q & A on former Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski’s asylum request in Hungary

The government of Hungary confirmed on Wednesday that the former prime minister of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski, has submitted an asylum request to Hungarian authorities in Budapest and his request is under evaluation in the Immigration and Asylum Office in accordance with both Hungarian and international law. Since that announcement, a number of questions have been raised. Here are some of those questions and the responses.

How did the former prime minister of Macedonia ask for asylum?

Former Prime Minister Gruevski declared his intent to request asylum in Hungary at one of Hungary’s foreign diplomatic posts, outside of the Republic of Macedonia, according to Minister Gergely Gulyás, speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

Why did the former Macedonian prime minister ask for asylum?

The request for asylum was made, according to the claim, because of questions about fair judicial process in Macedonia and because of threats on his life.

Why was he allowed to submit and have his request reviewed in Budapest?

The case concerns an individual who served as prime minister for more than ten years in his country, and he has requested political asylum. That’s an extraordinary situation, and in that case, precedent suggests that extraordinary cases like this merit extraordinary consideration.

For security reasons, the relevant Hungarian authorities – not the Hungarian government – decided that former PM Gruevski should be allowed to submit his claim and have it considered in Budapest.

How did he leave his home country and reach Hungary?

On how he left, Hungarian state authorities had nothing to do with him leaving his home country. It’s important to add, however, because it’s not common knowledge and press reports have overlooked this detail, that citizens of the countries in that region may travel between countries without a passport, using only a personal identity card.

Once he expressed at a Hungarian diplomatic post his desire to request asylum, the relevant Hungarian state authorities received his request and, for security reasons, decided that his case should be reviewed in Budapest.

Why doesn’t he have to wait in one of the transit zones like so many of the other migrants on Hungary’s southern border, awaiting a decision on their request for asylum?

Hungary’s border and immigration as well as security agencies – not the government – decided that, for security reasons, Gruevski should be able to submit his request in Budapest and have it reviewed in Budapest.

Again, we’re talking here about a former prime minister, who has claimed that he has had threats on his life and has not had a fair judicial process. This is an extraordinary case.

But Hungary considers Macedonia a safe country, where the rule of law prevails. By allowing the former prime minister to enter Hungary and by considering his asylum claim, isn’t Hungary overriding Macedonia’s judicial system?

No, Hungary received a request and is evaluating it. This request for asylum is a legal question. It will be decided in accordance with both Hungarian and international law. The government of Hungary and the Hungarian state authorities have in no way, by receiving a request, acted in prejudice against the institutions or official decisions of Macedonia.

If the government of Macedonia requests that Hungary extradite former PM Gruevski, will Hungary hand him over?

That’s a legal question. Hungary has not received an official request for extradition but if it does, it will follow the appropriate legal procedure.

Has Hungary received any feedback from other EU or NATO member states in connection with Hungary’s decision to receive and evaluate this asylum request?

As the matter does not concern them, no, we have not.

Has Prime Minister Orbán met former PM Gruevski since the request was made and the former PM arrived in Hungary?

No, no such meeting has taken place.