The Judicial Council rejected the truth that was slapped in our eyes by Ambassador Jan Kopp

Photo: MIA

The working collegium rejected as unfounded the claims of the Dutch ambassador Dirk Jan Kopp that the new president of the Council was elected in an illegitimate procedure and therefore put the 4-year project, financed by this country, on hold. The first person of the SC is elected with the required number of votes, determined in the Law, according to the Judicial Council.

The Dutch ambassador Dirk Jan Kopp slapped the truth in our eyes. His statement that the Judicial Council has become "an illegitimate body and that it is very serious and painful to watch", a view expressed without being wrapped in a wafer or in diplomatic gloves, should set off the alarm in the country, especially since it can have a huge impact on the negotiation process of Macedonia with the EU, and it will surely be found in the report of the European Commission on the country's progress.
Moreover, the Netherlands put on hold the "MATRA" project related to the Judicial Council and strengthening its efficiency, accountability and transparency, worth just under a million euros. In addition, two conferences were canceled, and the already agreed participation of several members of the Judicial Council in an expert program in the Netherlands in May was also canceled.

"In the past two years we thought we saw progress, better mentality, independent appointment of judges in the court, but also now we see again that things are getting worse. "We see signs of political influence in the selection of the Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime, we see signs of political influence in the selection of candidates for the Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors, we see signs of political influence in practically all courts," said Jan Kopp this weekend.

The Judicial Council functions legally, the Council replied

However, the Judicial Council rejected as unfounded the claims of Ambassador Jan Kopp that the new President of the Council was elected in an illegitimate procedure and therefore put the four-year project funded by this country on hold. The response from the Judicial Council came through a written statement.

"The Judicial Council (JSC) functions legally and in accordance with the powers given in the Law on Judicial Council. This was concluded at today's working collegium, which rejected as unfounded the claims of the Dutch ambassador Dirk Jan Kopp that the new president of the SS was elected in an illegitimate procedure and therefore put the 4-year project on hold.
funded by this country. The members emphasize that the first person of the SC was elected at a session with the required number of votes, determined in the Law on the Judicial Council of the RSM. The Council called on the authorities to investigate all suspicions of corruption, and they also remind that the Supreme Court additionally and in a legal procedure checks all the decisions made to check the responsibility of judges through the Appeals Council. The Dutch project lasts 4 years and consists of 3 components: efficiency, accountability, transparency and regional cooperation and is currently in its third project year," the Council announced.

Experts are not very surprised

And while the Judicial Council denied the Dutch ambassador, experts are not very surprised by what he disclosed. For them, this criticism and demand for responsibility is expected and although it looks more like a slap, it means a confirmation that corruption is at a high level and that despite all the commitments to the EU, European standards and principles are violated at every step and it was only a matter of time when something like this something will happen.
University professor Gordan Kalajdziev he is not surprised by the whole situation and says that we obviously lack responsibility or some kind of professionalism that carries with it responsibility.

- I have long argued that the system should be reset and I think that after all that has been happening in the last few years, this composition of the Judicial Council, and I would even say the whole concept, cannot be fixed, it should be started from the very beginning start. In a narrower sense, that reset means personnel, and in a broader sense we need to think about the model as well. The model by itself is not quite adequate and obviously does not give results in our country. Ever since we introduced this system of judicial self-management, we were afraid that something that was conceived as protection of the judiciary and its independence would turn into a tool for its instrumentalization, and that happened. This is the worst possible scenario, and even in an uglier form perhaps from other countries. I really think that Western countries should also think. They recommended this model in all countries that were in transition, somewhere more successful, somewhere less successful, but it was not really successful anywhere - says Kalajjiev in a statement for "Sloboden Pechat".

According to him, the problems are not only in the Judicial Council, but the entire way of managing the judiciary has its weaknesses, and all together have a weakness in the level of professionalism. When asked who is responsible, he says that "we are not mature for these tools that we are implementing and that we have skipped some value models to arrive at a relatively modern system".

Aleksandar Krzalovski from the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation commented that what the Dutch ambassador said about the withdrawal of funds for the Judicial Council is only an indication of what is being said more that while politicians are talking about the EU and European standards and values, hardly any of them practices those standards in the functioning of the state, and because of this, the trust in the institutions is less and less because they do not perform their functions.

- Although it looks more like a slap in the face, this is in a way a confirmation and directly stated, unwrapped in a wafer and undiplomatic, that corruption in the state is at a high level and that in addition to all pledges to the EU, those European standards and principles are trampled at every step. It was only a matter of time when something like this would happen - Krzhalovski told us.

His assessment is that it seems that there is no awareness after such messages, because it is obvious that everything is moving towards greater corruption. At the same time, he recalls the recent warning from the EU Delegation that what is being done with the European flag of the corridor laws with "Bechtel and Enka" is not right and is not in accordance with European procedures and values, but no one was shaken and everything continue with the "plan". Krzhalovski warns that if this continues, integration into the EU will obviously be stopped.

- Everything that is done is contrary to what is said about European integration - he adds.

What Ambassador Jan Kopp said, and which the Judicial Council denied, could undoubtedly lead to a possible veto in the negotiation process, especially since it is clear that the Netherlands firmly insists on European standards as it has shown in the case of Albania's negotiations with the EU. as well as for the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into Schengen. What's more, the ambassador made it clear that the only reason the Netherlands agreed to Macedonia's EU membership in February 2020 was the law guaranteeing the processing of SPO cases.

- Let me remind you that in February 2020, when the Parliament passed a law guaranteeing the processing of SPO cases, mass wiretapping cases, it was the only event that made my country agree to the membership of North Macedonia in the EU, and then and the EU Council agreed to it in March 2020. It is a central issue and we are following it closely. It is part of the "Foundations" chapter, which opens first and closes last, and will remain of high importance throughout the process. But what we see, on the contrary, is that all cases of SPO are sinking one by one, and that is a very bad development. And now we have the case of the Judicial Council, which actually became an illegitimate body. It is very serious and painful to watch. The situation is very serious - reminded the Dutch ambassador.

In front of Jan Kopp, the American ambassador also expressed her open disappointment with the situation in the judiciary Angela Ageler, which in April sent a letter to the institutions of the executive and judicial authorities in the country in which it expressed its concern and that of the United States about the situation with the judiciary.

"Every day I am more and more worried and disappointed because of the large number of (high-profile) cases that the Court of Appeal returned to the first-instance procedure for retrial. The apparent inability of the courts to quickly process cases through the court process and their transfer back and forth between the Court of Appeals and the Court of First Instance further reduces the low confidence that the public has in the courts," Ageler wrote in the letter.

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