When CIVIL Media spoke to Mr. Erwan Fouéré in May, 2016, he declared his strong and unwavering support to the Colorful Revolution, in times of an unstoppable wave of anti-regime and pro-democracy protests sweeping across the Republic of Macedonia. In the interview back then, Mr. Fouéré has concluded that the situation in the country has worsened, and has emphasized: “The rulers have to step down and face the full force of the law”. The protests against the regime of the former Prime Minister Gruevski started in 2014, but intensified in 2016, after the controversial decision by President Gjorgje Ivanov to stop the investigation against then top politicians, who came under investigation of the Special Public Prosecutor for serious criminal activities, such as abuse of power, widespread corruption, structural violence, wiretapping thousands of people, and electoral fraud.
On March 26, 2018, CIVIL Media has asked Mr. Fouéré on his perceptions of the new government and the overall situation in the country, two years after the Colorful Revolution, and one year after the turmoil that accompanied the formation of the post-regime government.
FOUÉRÉ: I must say it’s such a great pleasure to be back in Macedonia, in an environment where people are able to speak freely, without fear, without harassment, without physical intimidation, and without all the terrible pressures that the previous government was using to control, to forbid people, civil society organizations, media, to work independently and to operate as one would expect in a normal democratic society. All the checks and balances that we accept in a democratic society were not existing. Now, we have such a refreshing atmosphere, because the new government lost no time in replacing the fear with openness and replacing the secrecy of the previous government with transparency, establishing a dialogue with civil society, with the media and doing everything possible to catch up on lost time in terms of the reforms for EU accession. All the reforms that were already identified in the previous years, but which the previous government did not implement at all.
Of course, it is a huge challenge for the new government, and it will take time. But people are understandably impatient, particularly as regards to the issues of the alleged criminal activities, abuse of power that took place and that were evidenced notably in the wiretapped conversations. So, my message that I had two years ago, when we spoke previously, is the same, that those who were responsible, who were involved in all of these activities, who are under investigation by the Special Prosecutor, must absolutely face the full force of the law.
Because the law must be shown to be operating equally. Those who were in power must be accountable for what they have done and the quicker that can be done, the better. The peace can be restored. Understandably, people want to see justice happening. And that was, after all, the slogan of the Colorful Revolution: No justice – no peace.
So, I think that’s probably one of the biggest challenges facing this government, to make sure that the judiciary functions as it should, as an independent judiciary, and that those investigations, those cases are brought to a conclusion. It’s now, if I am not mistaken, over three years since the first revelations. And, yet, if I understand correctly, no one is in jail for those crimes that were revealed in those wiretapped conversations. That’s a long time for people to wait for justice to happen, so I do hope that the judiciary will understand the necessity to act rapidly on these matters.
CIVIL Media: What are your recommendations to the new government?
FOUÉRÉ: Certainly the government must, and I am sure it understands that it needs to avoid, at all costs, doing what the previous government did, which was to interfere with the judiciary, to put pressure on judges and everything, which one could hear openly in those wiretapped conversations.
The evidence is so blatant – of the interference, of the pressure used by the previous government. So, this government understands that, it must not interfere in any way. But, at the same time, it must promote – as a matter of urgency – the judicial reforms.
To make sure, firstly, that this situation of captured state, which was evidenced and which was clearly identified by the European Union, by all the other international organizations, as it was happening here, where all the institutions of the government were captured by the government. There must be a situation to avoid that happening in the future.
Secondly, the judiciary processes must be seen to function properly. In other words, judges are there to act as independent representatives of the law, and should act accordingly. And the supervisory bodies, the judicial supervisory bodies that are appointed by the parliament, the government together – these must be bodies that also function independently to ensure that there is a judiciary process. One hopes that the judiciary will reform itself, but at the moment we see a lot of delays in the investigations. Delays which, of course, are to the benefit of those who are being investigated.
So, I think there needs to be something done with that, and there are a lot of independent international judicial authorities that could be used to help with the reform process. The government should not hesitate to call on these international legal authorities so that the human rights, which were violated in the past, are respected and that the judiciary process is seen to function for everybody.
Transcript: Natasha Cvetkovska
Camera: Dehran Muratov
H.E. Amb. Erwan Fouéré (1946), Ireland, a career European official, who has served as Head of the European Commission Delegation in Macedonia, Slovenia, South Africa, and Mexico. Bachelor of Civil Law, University College, Dublin, 1967, Bachelor of Laws, University College, Dublin, 1968, Diploma in European studies, Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Nice University, 1969, Post graduate Research Assistant at the Max Kohnstamm Institute for European studies, Brussels 1970-72. Awarded the Order of Good Hope, Class II; Grand Officer by President Mandela (January 1998).
After having pursued a career spanning 38 years with the EU institutions, during which he assumed various responsibilities both at Headquarters and more particularly in the EU’s External Service, Erwan Fouéré has joined Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) as an Associate Senior Research Fellow.
Previous interviews with Mr. Fouéré for CIVIL: In 2011, “Role models, moral values and political culture… A personal account“. The interview was published in “Cure”, a publication on political culture and dialogue, supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, also published on the cover page of Nikola Mladenov’s political weekly “Fokus”.
In 2016, “The rulers have to step down and face the full force of the law“, as part of CIVIL’s media platform, in Macedonian, Albanian and English language.
CIVIL’s media platform is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic, within the project “Free Media for Free Society”.