Bonum Certa Men Certa

An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part VIII: An Inspector Calls

Series index:

  1. An EPO Administrative Council Exposé -- Part I: A New EPO Balkan Affair?
  2. An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part II: A Mysterious Fist-Bumping Masquerade in Skopje
  3. An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part III: A Longtime Associate of the Doyen
  4. An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part IV: A Party Political Animal
  5. An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part V: Sharing Out the Spoils of Public Office
  6. An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part VI: A Learned Legal Luminary
  7. An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part VII: An Academic Institution With a Political Mission
  8. You are here ☞ An Inspector Calls


Safet Emruli, Agim Nuhiu and Arbër Ademi
Featuring DUI functionaries: Safet Emruli, Agim Nuhiu and Arbër Ademi.



Summary: A look at the enablers of Benoît Battistelli at the EPO's Administrative Council (same enablers of António Campinos up until a few months ago due to a major scandal)

It all started off quite innocently with a routine inspection in April 2019, but it turned out to have far-reaching consequences for all concerned.



Gjorgji Ilievski, chief inspector with the State Education Inspectorate of North Macedonia, was carrying out an inspection into the Faculty of Law at the State University of Tetova (SUT).

"Gjorgji Ilievski, chief inspector with the State Education Inspectorate of North Macedonia, was carrying out an inspection into the Faculty of Law at the State University of Tetova (SUT)."He happened to spot a number of familiar names and faces among the members of the faculty's teaching staff.

More specifically, there were three people who also held high-ranking official positions elsewhere, namely:

● Safet Emruli, ● Agim Nuhiu and ● Arbër Ademi.

Safet Emruli, as we know by now, was the Director of the State Office for Intellectual Property (SOIP) and had been in that position since 2008.

Agim Nuhiu was the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Arbër Ademi was the Minister of Education and Science [PDF].

By a curious coincidence, all three happened to be affiliated with the same political party, the ethnic Albanian DUI.

"By a curious coincidence, all three happened to be affiliated with the same political party, the ethnic Albanian DUI."During their terms of office as ministers, both Ademi and Nuhiu had been promoted in their parallel academic careers.

Ademi was promoted to the position of "Docent" and Nuhiu to the position of "Vonreden Professor". In Macedonian academia these positions are equivalent respectively to "assistant professor" and "associate professor".

"They have an entitlement to return to this previous employment when their term of public office ends but they are not supposed to pursue any such previous employment in parallel to the exercise of their public office."In the case of Emruli, during his term of office at the SOIP he enjoyed a series of promotions at the SUT Faculty of Law, advancing from "junior assistant" (lecturer) to "assistant" (lecturer) and then to "assistant professor" and finally to "associate professor".

The problem with all of this was a conflict with Article 151 of the Macedonia Law on Labor Relations:

The employment of the employee who has been elected or appointed to state or public office, in accordance with the law, the performance of which requires from the employee to temporarily cease to work for the employer, shall be suspended for the term of office and such employee shall be entitled, within a period of 15 days upon the end of his term of office, to return to work with the employer to an appropriate position in accordance with his professional qualifications.


In plain language, this means that when someone is appointed to an official position in "state or public office", their previous employment is suspended or rendered "dormant".

"The law is very clear and doesn't allow much room for manoeuvre."They have an entitlement to return to this previous employment when their term of public office ends but they are not supposed to pursue any such previous employment in parallel to the exercise of their public office. Likewise, they cannot enjoy promotion or advancement in respect of what is officially deemed to be a "dormant" position.

The law is very clear and doesn't allow much room for manoeuvre.

It was as plain as a pikestaff that Ademi, Nuhiu and Emruli had all enjoyed irregular promotions at the SUT's Faculty of Law.

In Emruli's case this had been going for over ten years, i.e. since his appointment as SOIP Director in 2008.

SOIP and breach of the regulations
Extract from Ilievski's report noting that Emruli's academic promotions were in breach of the regulations.



Ilievski drafted his report accordingly and submitted it in April 2009.

And then all hell broke loose …

"It was as plain as a pikestaff that Ademi, Nuhiu and Emruli had all enjoyed irregular promotions at the SUT's Faculty of Law."The problem here was that - from the perspective of those with their snouts in the trough - Ilievski's findings were of a highly sensitive and "undesirable" nature.

Not only did the case involve serious breaches of statutory regulations at a state-accredited institute of higher learning but - and this is probably the most delicate aspect of the whole affair - one of the presumed beneficiaries just happened to be the Minister for Education.

Soon after Ilievski's report [PDF] had been submitted, the DUI ministers Ademi and Nuhiu began to exert pressure on him.

According to contemporaneous Macedonian press reports [PDF], Ademi asked him to "cover up the case" and Nuhiu "reminded him that he had a family and children".

Ilievski-speaks
Ilievski's exposure of official corruption turned him into an “overnight public hero and a role model”.



But Ilievski was not for turning. He decided that he was going to stick to his guns. In fact he appears to have been so irritated by the attempts to silence him that he decided to go public and the first press reports about the affair began appearing in June 2019.

As might be expected, Ilievski's decision to take blow the whistle was perceived as a provocation by the powers-that-be and it certainly didn't make his life any easier.

"In fact he appears to have been so irritated by the attempts to silence him that he decided to go public and the first press reports about the affair began appearing in June 2019."He was subjected to a trumped-up disciplinary procedure - from which journalists were excluded – and was punished with a demotion.

But Ilievski's principled stand against official corruption found a resonance with the public in North Macedonia and the case attracted a lot of media attention. He was soon being feted as the "courageous inspector who took on powerful DUI officials" and, in the words of the online newspaper Republika, he became an “overnight public hero and a role model”.

"But Ilievski's principled stand against official corruption found a resonance with the public in North Macedonia and the case attracted a lot of media attention."The Association of Journalists of Macedonia condemned the exclusion of journalists from Ilievski's disciplinary hearing and the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection (SEECWP) rallied to his aid.

The Winter 2020 issue of the SEECWP WhistleWire newsletter (published in November 2019 [PDF]), contained a nice summary of the case which is reproduced below.

Ilievski-Whistleblower-WhistleWire
The SE Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection gave valuable public support to Ilievski.



‘OVERNIGHT PUBLIC HERO AND ROLE MODEL’



In North Macedonia, Education Ministry inspector Gjorgji Ilievski was demoted in May after he alleged three high-ranking government officials – including the education minister himself – illegally received academic titles at the State University of Tetovo.

As part of his official duties as the ministry’s chief inspector for higher education, Ilievski discovered university certifications were given improperly to Education Minister Arbr Ademi, Deputy Interior Minister Agim Nuhiu, and State Industrial Property Director Safet Emruli, according to media reports.

Outdated notions: Gjorgji Ilievski quoteTo no avail, Ilievski told many public agencies and officials in Skopje about the irregularities, including his supervisor, prosecutors, anti-corruption officials and the financial police. Ilievski said that several high- ranking officials pressured him to keep silent and withdraw his reports, threatened to discipline him, and warned him to be careful because he has a family and children.

Ilievski was demoted to a lower-paying position with lesser responsibilities, which he is formally appealing. He has met with the Dutch and French embassies in Skopje, and informed the local European Union office about the retaliation campaign against him.

“Every day I am being mobbed. I don’t receive work assignments,” he told the Coalition. “The only institution that has reacted is the public law defender, which found a lot of irregularities.

Other institutions are ignoring my complaints and forcing me to seek justice in court.”

Though he is set to retire in January 2020, Ilievski said “I intend to go on with my fight.” Among other actions, he has asked North Macedonia’s Constitutional Court to decide on the constitutionality of allowing former public officials to be given teaching and academic titles.

Ilievski was called an “overnight public hero and a role model” by Republika. The Coalition has advocated on Ilievski’s behalf to high-ranking public officials in Skopje and Brussels.



Stay tuned for the next part when we shall see how Gjorgji Ilievski was finally vindicated in 2020 as Safet Emruli ended up falling on his sword and resigning as Director of the SOIP.

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