Inconsistent: Gruevski has no say in Officers’ Mess sale

Фото: Скриншот


On January 31, VMRO-DPMNE president Nikola Gruevski said for Sitel television:

State institutions led by VMRO-DPMNE initiated an idea which, as we can see these past few days, is not supported by the majority of citizens in Bitola. We have been following this process closely and have maintained open communication. After some consideration, we have decided to stop the process on Monday. There must be something we have not quite understood if so many citizens of Bitola are raising their voices and we should respect that. [Source: Sitel video 28:10-28:55 Date: 31.01.2016]



Gruevski’s statement seems slightly strange as it was made by a political party leader. Gruevski is no longer the Prime Minister, nor does he occupy any other state office, so it is dubious to hear him state they “decided to stop the process” (meaning the sale of the Officers’ Mess in Bitola) from the position of VMRO-DPMNE chief. His appearance indicates interference of the ruling party with the mandate of state institutions.

We sounded Karolina Ristova-Asterud, a law professor at Ss Cyril and Methodius University, for her opinion.

 The response is very clear, even text-book. Gruevski is no longer the Prime Minister and it is not at all up to him to say what the executive branch will or will not do on any issue. This is the purview of the current PM or the relevant ministry. The only statement he can make as a VMRO-DPMNE president is what the position of his party is or what position their government members will take up – that’s it. I am certain he is aware of this, but there is probably a stronger psychological and political need to signal the public and the party membership that he’s not done, that he’s still in charge. From a broader political perspective, it only clarifies the pathological state of the merger between ruling parties and state, which has been criticised by the EU and international reports, but was previously concealed as he acted from the position of the President of the Government,” said Ristova-Asterud for Vistinomer.

Political analyst Petar Arsovski also confirmed that Gruevski could not be involved in the Government’s activities.

 “It is a matter of political etiquette. Gruevski cannot be involved in the Government’s activities. It only shows that the party and state are still conjoined and have not separated. Doing this, he cancels out the positive step of resigning per the stipulations of the Pržino Agreement. Besides, he wants to send the message that he is still in charge – not the interim PM – and the message will be a positive one for those who like authoritarian characters,” said Arsovski.

The statements indicate that Gruevski’s claim is, at the very least, inconsistent.


The decision to sell the Officers’ Mess was made by the Government on December 22, 2015. The public announcement was published on January 16, 2016, and the electronic auction was scheduled for February 19 in the offices of the Ministry of Finance. The announcement does not state the purpose of the object, but the buyer is obliged to reconstruct the lower floor and then return it to the Municipality of Bitola, to be used as a registry office for marriage ceremonies. According to the announcement, the object measuring 1,970 m² is to be sold whole. The total value of the object is estimated at 55,608,730.50 denars.

The informal group of citizens “Save Bitola Association,” numbering about twenty well-known and well-regarded citizens of Bitola, stood up against the sale of the Officers’ Mess.

Five years ago the building in question was transferred from the remit of the Ministry of Culture to the Municipality, which promised to reconstruct it. The building continued to dilapidate and was returned to the care of the state last year.

The Officer’s Mess was built in 1911 by Abdul Kerim Pasha, the chief of the Bitola province, and completed in 1919. It is also known as the Saray of Abdullah Kerim Pasha.



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This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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