EU calls on Hungary to explain asylum for former Macedonian prime minister | News | DW | 21.11.2018
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EU calls on Hungary to explain asylum for former Macedonian prime minister

A former Macedonian prime minister wanted for corruption in his home country says he was granted asylum in Hungary. The European Union commissioner in charge of membership policy says he wants answers.

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (L) stands in front of his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban during news conference in Skopje May 12, 2011 (Reuters/O. Teofilovski)

Former Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski (L) is an old friend of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Hungary should explain why it granted asylum to a fugitive former Macedonian prime minister if reports about the incident were true, a senior European Union official said on Wednesday.

Gruevski fled to Hungary on November 9 after a court in Macedonia sentenced him to two years in prison for abuse of power.

Read more: Hungary's Viktor Orban finally welcomes a 'refugee'

Gruevski said on Tuesday that Hungary had granted asylum because he faced "political persecution" and death threats in Macedonia. The 48 year old is a close friend of right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

But EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who heads the bloc's membership policy, wrote on Twitter that it was "surprising" that Hungary may have granted asylum on those grounds when it also supported Macedonia's bid to join the European Union.

EU officials have criticized Hungary in recent years for failing to uphold an independent judiciary and refusing to accept refugees from active war zones.

"The #RuleofLaw remains a fundamental principle for Member States and accession candidates alike," Hahn said.

Macedonia's government has denied Gruevski's allegations. It has also issued an international arrest warrant for the former prime minister after he failed to show up at court for a prison hearing.

Gruevski was elected prime minister in 2006. He resigned in 2016 after a wire-tapping scandal. A Macedonian court convicted him in May of using state money to buy a €600,000 ($684,000) armored Mercedes for personal travel.

amp/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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