Imagine your foreign minister saying this about meeting a former PM of another country convicted for abuse of power, currently hiding in your capital (well, walking around freely), after he was whisked off to avoid prison with diplomatic help from your country.
„(…) if we want the most credible information about the West Balkan … to whom would we talk if not a man who has been prime minister there for ten years? And yes, we regularly talk with him. The location is irrelevant. I, for instance, meet him in my office in the ministry.
“And I think it’s natural that officials of the foreign ministry keep contact with a man who had been prime minister of his own country for ten years. And you know what, my fellow MPs, it will be like this in the future, we will regularly keep in touch with him in the future, and I will consult him in the future regarding matters of the West Balkan, and I will obviously do that in my office.
“And let me tell you one more thing, my respected fellow MPs, Nikola Gruevski supports his own country’s euro-atlantic integration.”
(Foreign minister Szíjjártó on regularly meeting Nikola Gruevski,
convicted former PM of North Macedonia)
Nikola Gruevski was sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges, and he has been indicted in four other court cases in his country. But, instead of showing up at the prison in November 2018 to begin his sentence, he vanished into the Hungarian embassy in Tirana, Albania. A day later, Hungarian diplomats accompanied Gruevski to Hungary via Montenegro and Serbia in a diplomatic vehicle. They have probably also aided his way out of Macedonia, despite his diplomatic passport being suspended. Gruevski arrived in Hungary on November 12.
Gruevski is a close friend and political ally of Orbán, both belong in Putin’s stable, so he was granted political asylum by Orbán, who claimed that poor, innocent Gruevski was facing “political persecution” at home. (That’s all you need to know about what Putinists really mean by their claims that precious, precious sovereignty must be respected…)
Ever since that, sightings of Gruevski in Budapest have been common. He is freely walking around Budapest, shopping, giving talks and interviews, and apparently writing a book about his experiences. It will be published by the same publisher that released Putin’s book.
On June 7, 2019, journalists of 444 have been surprised to see him walking into the apartment next door. (444’s office is in a residential building in Budapest). They tried to ask him a few questions on his way out.
Other people have also left the apartment, who later turned out to be officials of the foreign ministry, which is a few blocks from there. And the apartment is owned by two Chinese individuals, who were granted residency in Hungary in the dodgy and controversial residency bond program.
When asked about the diplomatic embarrassment in parliament, Hungarian FM Szíjjártó gave the above, blood-boiling response. No denial, no apology, he pushed even further – standard Fidesz practice since they have no checks on their power.
To make things even more mind-boggingly incomprehensible, it is worth noting that a few weeks earlier Orbán himself has been caught outside that building, by the same 444 journalists, who tried to ask Gruevski questions. (Orbán didn’t say anything, to no one’s surprise.) So no one could claim that they have somehow overlooked the fact that the editorial office of one of the few remaining independent media outlets is there.
In other words, incompetent secret service people used an apartment for clandestine meetings next to the editorial office of one of the last remaining independent media outlets, and they didn’t stop using it, even after they were outed.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for their punishment. They will probably get a medal, that’s how Orbánism rubs in that our little outrage doesn’t matter, they actually enjoy it. And every time an outrage goes without consequence (which is every time), a new low is hit and a new normal is established.
This is the new normal in the country without consequences.
Featured image: Orbán and Gruevksi at a press conference in 2016 (444.hu)