European Union spokesperson Maja Kocijancic condemned the Zaev Goverment over its intimidation of journalists who reported on the corruption allegations involving the DUI party. Kocijancic also called on the authorities to investigate all allegations of corruption.

The dispute originated in a statement from Labour and Welfare Minister Mila Carovska from the SDSM party, who demanded that public prosecutors investigate alleged corruption in the PIOM public retirement fund, which is run by officials from its DUI coalition partner. DUI, which insists on its “untouchable” status despite numerous corruption allegations, reacted angrily after the allegations, and Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani, who is in charge of Macedonia’s EU accession, demanded that both Carovska but also the journalists who merely reported her comments, apologize and threatened to sue them for defamation.

According to Kocijancic, EU demands that there is zero tolerance for physical and verbal abuse and threats toward the journalists. She also singled out threats from the Healthcare Ministry aimed against journalists, and demanded that the press is allowed to report freely, and that corruption allegations are investigated to the full extent.

Carovska said that all details regarding the PIOM case were handed over to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

In order to reform the retirement system, we completed a detailed analysis and we determined system failures. We realized that funds from a number of citizens were withheld from the Second retirement pillar. Everything else should be handled by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Carovska said today, declining to specify whether her move has endangered SDSM’s coalition with DUI.