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Minister of Foreign Affairs confirms: Nikola Gruevski was aided by Hungarian diplomats

Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szíjjártó spoke about the details of the case of former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski at a press conference on Thursday at Budapest's Public Service University.

Nikola Gruevski was granted asylum by the Hungarian authorities yesterday following his arrival to Hungary last Tuesday, when the former prime minister of Macedonia, Nikolai Gruevski revealed in a Facebook post that he is hiding out in Budapest to avoid his jail sentence he received after the Macedonian court found that he is guilty of influencing a public procurement procedure aimed to acquire a €600,000 armoured Mercedes for his private usage. 

It is as of yet unknown how exactly Gruevski left Macedonia, but as Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó confirmed at a press conference Wednesday morning, Gruevski travelled to Hungary with help from Hungarian diplomats following his crossing of the Macedonian border. The Minister said it is not important whose order prompted that succession of events, as Gruevski's transport constituted no crime, everything was in congruence with the regulations. Mr Szijjártó learned of the case when Gruevski appeared at the Tirana consulate, his answer suggests that there was no previous informal agreement between Gruevski and the Hungarians.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs did not reveal the type of document Gruevski used to enter Hungary in lieu of a passport, but earlier reporting indicates that he received a special permit for a one-time entry.

Upon his entry he was deemed a person in need of special treatment by the authorities, therefore he was allowed to bypass the transit zones where other asylum seekers are detained until their case is heard, so he could request asylum directly at the Budapest centre. The Minister did not comment on how that was possible while endangered asylum seekers are detained, he said that the matter lies outside of his competence.

The former Macedonian Prime Minister was granted asylum this Tuesday afternoon, despite a leader of the Immigration and Asylum Office telling the Parliament's National Security Committee earlier the same day that the decision will still take a long time.

Macedonia had since requested the extradition of Gruevski. Whether or not Hungary complies with their request will be determined by a procedure that will be carried out by the same Immigration and Asylum Office that decided about Gruevski's asylum, and might include the revision of that decision. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee expressed their doubts about the likeliness of the authority's objectivity during that procedure.

This article is the slightly amended version of the original published by Index on the same day.