Taravari with an open letter to ambassadors: Let's raise a western front against the plague of corruption

Arben Taravari / Photo: "Free Press" / Dragan Mitreski

The leader of the Alliance for Albanians, Arben Taravari, sent an open letter to the American ambassador, Angela Ageler, to the European ambassador, David Geer, and to the entire diplomatic corps in RSM.

We are transmitting the open letter in its entirety.

Taking advantage of the calmness of this winter weekend, I am turning to you through this open letter to ask you to together raise a western front for the Europeanization of the country, and not with empty slogans of politicians of whom the citizens of the country are tired and disappointed and who are running away from us en masse towards Europe, but with concrete actions to solve their main concern which drowned their last hopes that in this country one day things could be good for them and for future generations.

This concern of theirs, mine, and yours is the plague of corruption that has invaded every pore of society, especially at the top of the government where party apparatchiks are untouchable. They are untouchable, because a partisan and corrupt justice guarantees them immunity, even in cases opened by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) for the misuse of millions of European taxpayers' money.

It has been 4 years since the former General Secretary of the Government, Draghi Rashkovski (SDSM), was caught plotting a corrupt tender worth 7 million euros financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

It has also been 4 years since the former State Secretary of the Ministry of Information Society and Administration, Yahi Yahiu (DUI) was caught accepting a bribe of 40.000 euros to rig a tender worth a million euros from IPA funds.

Almost 3 years ago, it was revealed that the director of the Agency for European Educational Programs, Lidija Dimova (SDSM), misused hundreds of thousands of euros from the Erasmus+ funds and other European educational programs, in the name of grants for training donkeys, horses and hairdressing. She accused her predecessor, Darko Dimitrov (VMRO-DPMNE), that in the period 2016-2019 he misused 2,2 million euros from Erasmus+ by corruptly transferring them to some criminal associations.

Common sense would say that North Macedonia, as a country waiting to open negotiations for membership in the European Union, would have solved these corruption cases with the highest priority with the money of the European taxpayers, to send a message that the country applies a policy of zero tolerance to the abuses of European funds.

The truth is completely different. Calls for progress reports, for final verdicts in high level corruption cases remain a dead letter and all these corrupt officials walk free.

This is the best picture of a captive justice system. Despite the millions invested in the judiciary and prosecution by the EU and the US, partisan and corrupt judges and prosecutors ensure impunity for high officials of political parties. And when impunity is the rule even when European funds are misused, what can our businesses and citizens expect when their rights are violated or bribes are imposed on them by state officials?
As a country aiming to enter the EU, North Macedonia should have the rule of law as its primary goal. The European taxpayer and investor must be guaranteed a European standard in law: the Court in Tetovo and the Court in Veles must guarantee the same application of European laws as the Court in Frankfurt or the Court in Madrid. Otherwise, the country's membership in the EU makes no sense and North Macedonia cannot become Europe.

Therefore, respected ambassadors of friendly Western countries, I call on you to roll up our sleeves together and declare war on the partisanship of justice and the corrupt at every level of government.

The solution is simple and I have discussed it in detail with some of you within the rule of law package prepared by the experts of the Alliance for Albanians. In our opinion, the fight against crime and high-level corruption should focus on three main axes:

1. Vetting in the judiciary, politics and administration.
2. Confiscation of illegally acquired property.
3. Doubling investments in the judiciary and anti-corruption institutions to ensure their independence and effectiveness.

The proposals of the Alliance for the Rule of Law for Albanians are as necessary as they are applicable, if there is political will inside and outside. The time to act is now.

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