During the televised Kanal 5 TV duel with Hristijan Mickoski so far, Zoran Zaev keeps returning to the allegation that Mickoski is surrounded with advisers from worked with former Prime Minister and VMRO leader Nikola Gruevski. Zaev is also accusing Mickoski about the April 27 2017 incident in the Parliament, which was provoked by Zaev’s push to stage an irregular vote for a new Parliament Speaker.

In response, Mickoski called out Zaev for his close ties and businesses with people who were prominent over the decade when Macedonia was led by Nikola Gruevski.

You seem obsessed by Gruevski, let him be, tell us what are you doing with the judiciary, why haven’t you seized the money you said you will from people close to him? You said you will place a sports board on the Macedonia Gate to inform the public how much money was seized. Not a euro was taken, or rather, money were taken, but they ended up in someone’s pockets, Mickoski said, adding that Zaev still asks to be driven around in the armored Mercedes which Gruevski was tried over.

Zaev responded by another of his favorite talking points – how he and other SDSM officials were punched and kicked during the 2017 incident. “Be ashamed of the scars I bear on my face”, Zaev shouted at Mickoski, who reminded him that he undermined the trial over this incident when he pardoned three former VMRO-DPMNE members of Parliament who were charged with opening the Parliament doors. The three agreed to vote for the imposed name change, and received amnesties from Zaev, but also various perks, such as lucrative public contracts. Zaev responded that was part of the “reconciliation process”.