Talat Xhaferi announced today that he will not allow a vote in Parliament on the Special Prosecutor’s Office until the presidential elections are over on May 5th. Xhaferi said that the talks on the controversial unit are being abused by the parties and that he will wait until the elections are over.

Let the parties discuss it the coming period and overcome their differences on the SPO, said Xhaferi.

His announcement comes as the European Union Embassy in Macedonia urged the parties to adopt the law proposed by the SDSM – DUI coalition, which would make the SPO a permanent part of the prosecutor’s service.  The decision of the European Council, which should discuss opening accession talks with Macedonia in July, could be influenced by the adoption of this law, the Embassy insists.

We have been closely following discussions between the Government and main opposition party on the draft law. We urge all parliamentary political parties and distinguished members of the Sobranie to positively consider the adoption of the legislation. This will demonstrate to the citizens as well as to the international community the commitment to establishing accountability for all crime, especially high-level corruption and misuse of power, but also to strengthening the rule of law in the Republic of North Macedonia. It will also contribute to citizens’ desire for rule based and fair society which ultimately is at the heart of the EU enlargement process, the Embassy said in its statement.

According to Xhaferi, the delay he announced today will not affect the EU agenda, because the European Parliament elections will also delay the preparation of the progress report on Macedonia, leaving enough time to adopt the law after the elections.

VMRO-DPMNE submitted 65 proposed amendments to the draft which is being proposed by SDSM. VMRO demands that the prosecutor is appointed by the opposition parties to ensure transparency and accountability of the Government, which was a key SDSM request only years ago. VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski also cited a direct attempt by current special prosecutor Katica Janeva to blackmail him as the reason why the opposition can’t support the current SPO officials. During his recent TV debate with Zaev, Mickoski insisted that it is clear that the Government wants to keep using the SPO as a tool to exert pressure on the opposition.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who owes his position to the dozens of criminal cases which the SPO initiated – almost exclusively against VMRO officials – wants to keep Katica Janeva in charge of the institution. For this purpose, Zaev announced that he may try to adopt the changes to the law without approval from the opposition, using the two – thirds majority he was able to put together for the renaming of the country. Nine opposition members of Parliament, some of them charged by the SPO and others by the “regular” state prosecutor’s office, voted with Zaev to rename Macedonia into “North Macedonia” in exchange for pardons.

In this line, SDSM representatives met with the smaller opposition ethnic Albanian parties, BESA and Alliance of Albanians. Both parties had their own requests to support the SPo law. Ziadin Sela from AA demanded that on top of the SPO, a special court is created to process charges of corruption in the high levels of the Government, while Bilal Kasami from BESA, who met Zaev, asked that the prosecutors are allowed to continue using the cache of illegally recorded wiretaps as evidence. Both parties implied that the DUI party, which is their chief political rival, wants to avoid prosecution of its officials for corruption and could undermine the SPO.