Two years after the wiretapping scandal, the security system is yet to be reformed

Nikola Gruevski announcing that foreign secret services and Zoran Zaev have spied on him, officials and citizens, but he accepted reforms five months later. Photo: Screenshot


About 18 months ago, the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski promised the following:

In yesterday’s Government session, we adopted a Plan for new reforms for the sake of the European integration. Besides the existing reforms that we are continuously implementing, this is a new ample and ambitious plan that I believe will provide additional progress. A plan based on our talks with the EU and the recommendations of the European institutions and experts, focused on advancing the rule of law, freedoms, electoral legislature, fight against crime and corruption.


Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski promised urgent reforms in the security sector, in the measures package announced in June 2015, in the tight of the hottest days of the political crisis created by the illegal wiretapping of thousands of Macedonians, but also foreign citizens and diplomats. Nevertheless, until now (19 October 2016), his promise remains unfulfilled.

Gruevski’s statement is practically related to the previous recommendations from the European Union, which in its reports recommended “measures for urgent reform priorities”, which are based on the previous report of the German diplomat Reinhard Priebe, who scrutinized the situation in this country from April to May that year.

One of the key reforms in Priebe’s recommendations, transposed in diplomatic language in EU’s reports on Macedonia’s progress, was the one related to the security sector, because the analyses showed that the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence (ASCI or UBK in Macedonian) has been the wiretapping headquarter, and it was assessed that it has too big discretionary rights and is out of civil authority’s control, especially out of Parliament’s control. Priebe’s report unequivocally writes:

The causes of the protracted scandal in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia can be traced back both to a concentration of power within the national security service (UBK) and to a malfunctioning of the oversight mechanism over the UBK

In fact, Gruevski and the Government gave the same promise twice by saying that they are dedicated, expeditious and within deadlines regarding the fulfillment of the Urgent Reform Priorities, explained in detail by the National Council for European Integrations, which alongside the European Issues Secretariat (EIS), monitored their preparation, plan and fulfillment. The second such promise that also includes the reform of the security sector in the country, was given by the incumbent Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev on 30 May 2016 and by Nikola Gruevski on 1 June 2016:

In multiple areas, starting from the judiciary, media, administration, security etc. the institutions are working with complete focus and full capacity on preparing the first steps, drafts and everything else needed for beginning a process of fulfillment of these requests, which will contribute toward strengthening of the Republic of Macedonia itself, and the institutions as well.

About 18 months after the first urgent reform priorities promise and two whole years after the crisis has started, which is based on wiretapping and security services, the incumbent Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev re-announced the all-embracing reforms, saying that the monitoring and analysis of the situation are yet to begin, and should end in a year:

The reform covers literally everything in the security services’ scope of work – their competence and their position in the overall system of functioning of the country, including the control over them. The reforms will be multilayered, will go through plenty of segments regarding the country’s functioning and therefore this project, the National System Consolidation, includes all institutions that have contact point with the services. (Nova TV station, date: 18 October 2016)

The person in charge of this “all-embracing reform” is Mitko Chavkov, the successor of Gordana Jankulovska as a head of the MOI, and current director of the National Security Bureau.

Because of the aforementioned arguments, the promise for complete reforms of the security sector, including the institutions and services, is assessed as unfulfilled.




Assessed by: Teo Blazhevski

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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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