President Stevo Pendarovski expressed his regret that the rule of law in Macedonia has become “half-dead”. In an interview with TV24 that aired as the trial of disgraced former Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva began, Pendarovski said that he also bears responsibility for the dramatic failure to ensure that the rule of law is respected in Macedonia.

I feel moral responsibility since I led a list of candidates at the 2016 general elections and all of us on that list spoke how there will be “no justice no peace”, we spoke about the vetting of judges and prosecutors. But in the meantime it was, as the Prime Minister said, all but forbidden to us from Brussels. Such were their recommendations. But we mustn’t have left 15 to 25 judges, who are well known to be judges in name only and are in fact businessmen, to continue to violate the law and the Constitution. The rule of law had to be delivered. But we see that we keep using the old saying from the past 30 years, that no high level official from any government will ever serve jail time, Pendarovski told TV24.

On a more optimistic note, the gaffe prone President assured the public that France will not veto Macedonia from opening EU accession talks again. Pendarovski said that he received this promise directly from French President Emmanuel Macron, who he met with recently.

He told me that he wants to come to my country and explain his decision and I said that he will be welcome, but that it will be a difficult visit if he comes bearing negative news and cuts us again. And he told me that he has no intention of cutting us for the second time. That is the best I got from that conversation, Pendarovski revealed, before adding that President Macron did not commit to a positive decision in March given that France is holding municipal elections at the time and EU enlargement is not popular at all.