08.10.21

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An EPO Administrative Council Exposé — Part V: Sharing Out the Spoils of Public Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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. You are here ☞ Sharing Out the Spoils of Public Office

Safet Emruli for Albania
SOIP Director Safet Emruli waves the Albanian flag at a DUI rally.

Summary: “There can be little doubt that Safet Emruli’s appointment as head of the SOIP and subsequent reappointment in 2018 were significantly influenced by party political considerations.”

In the last part we examined the political connections of Safet Emruli, the former Director of the North Macedonian State Office for Intellectual Property (SOIP).

In particular, we noted his affiliation with the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) – in Albanian: Bashkimi Demokratik për Integrim (BDI) – which was established in June 2002 under the leadership of the former NLA guerrilla leader, Ali Ahmeti.

It’s clear that Emruli makes no secret of his DUI affiliation and that he wears his political colours on his sleeve.

“It’s clear that Emruli makes no secret of his DUI affiliation and that he wears his political colours on his sleeve.”In this part we intend to look at how his professional career has benefited from his connections with that party.

Since it was established in June 2002, the DUI has managed to overtake its main rival for the ethnic Albanian vote, the more conservative Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) which was established in 1994.

The DUI is now the largest ethnic Albanian party in North Macedonia and it has typically managed to attract somewhere between a 10% to 14% share of the overall vote.

“The DUI is now the largest ethnic Albanian party in North Macedonia and it has typically managed to attract somewhere between a 10% to 14% share of the overall vote.”Its worst showing was in 2006 when its share of the vote fell to 7.5% because of its participation in the controversial administration led by Nikola Gruevski of the nationalist-conservative VMRO-DPMNE. But by 2020, it had bounced back to 11.48%.

Since its formation in June 2002, the party has managed to participate in no less than 6 out of 7 administrations (as a junior coalition partner) and has only been in opposition once for a relatively brief period between 2006 and 2008.

DUI participation

Since its formation in 2002, the DUI has participated in 6 out of 7 administrations. (Source: Wikipedia)

The DUI’s strategic role as a parliamentary “kingmaker”, has ensured that the it gets its fair share of ministerial positions at the cabinet table along with a generous quota of senior civil service appointments. These civil service appointments come in the form of “Directorships” of various government agencies associated with the ministries.

“…the DUI normally gets to determine who is in charge of the SOIP and, thus, who represents North Macedonia on the Administrative Council of the EPO.”It’s worth mentioning at this point that in most, if not all, of the coalition arrangements to date the DUI has been allocated control of the Ministry for Economic Affairs which is responsible for supervising the State Office of Intellectual Property (SOIP).

In other words, the DUI normally gets to determine who is in charge of the SOIP and, thus, who represents North Macedonia on the Administrative Council of the EPO.

Following the failure of negotiations with the dominant nationalist-conservative VMRO-DPMNE in 2006, the DUI was dumped as a coalition partner in favour of the DPA, its main rival in the ethnic Albanian camp.

DUI's Fatmir Besimi
DUI politician Fatmir Besimi responsible for Emruli’s installation as head of the SOIP in 2008.

But, after a brief spell in opposition, the DUI was back in business with the VMRO-DPMNE in the wake of a early general election held in 2008. In the coalition administration formed in 2008, the DUI politician, Fatmir Besimi, was placed in charge of the Ministry for Economic Affairs.

On Besimi’s recommendation, Safet Emruli was awarded the position of SOIP Director in August 2008. [PDF]

“The political crisis was initially set in motion by corruption allegations against VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski and his coalition partners, including the DUI.”Prior to that Emruli had held a junior academic teaching position in the Faculty of Law at the State University of Tetovo. We will return to Emruli’s links to the State University of Tetovo in due course, but for the moment we want to focus our attention on his DUI connections and their relevance in the wider context of the overall political landscape in North Macedonia.

During the period between 2015 and early 2017 the country was shaken by successive waves of political turbulence which had their origin in a bitter domestic power struggle between the nationalist-conservative VMRO-DPMNE and the social-democratic SDSM.

The political crisis was initially set in motion by corruption allegations against VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski and his coalition partners, including the DUI. The allegations of corruption raised by the SDSM were followed by allegations of illegal mass surveillance of political opponents and wide scale public protests.

“Following a general election in December 2016, Gruevski and his allies were accused of obstructing the formation of a new government, in order to avoid losing power and facing prosecution for corruption.”The deteriorating political situation led to an intervention by the EU and the installation of a caretaker government with representatives from both the VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM.

Following a general election in December 2016, Gruevski and his allies were accused of obstructing the formation of a new government, in order to avoid losing power and facing prosecution for corruption.

Macedonia's Gruevski
Macedonia’s “Capitol Hill” moment in April 2017 when supporters of Gruevski stormed the parliament.

The crisis culminated with a “Capitol Hill” moment in April 2017 when supporters of Gruevski stormed the national parliament in Skopje in reaction to the election of Talat Xhaferi as the parliament’s chairman.

“The actions of those who stormed the parliament in April 2017 appear to have been motivated by concerns about the increased Albanian influence over public affairs which they feared would result from the planned alliance between the SDSM and Albanian parties, including the DUI.”Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian affiliated with the DUI, had previously served as Defence Minister. He was a controversial figure for ethnic (Slav) Macedonians because in 2001 he had been a high-ranking officer in the Macedonian army stationed in Tetovo when he deserted to join the NLA guerrillas during the “Albanian insurgency”. Under the terms of the Ohrid Agreement he was amnestied along with his comrades-in-arms in the NLA.

The actions of those who stormed the parliament in April 2017 appear to have been motivated by concerns about the increased Albanian influence over public affairs which they feared would result from the planned alliance between the SDSM and Albanian parties, including the DUI.

“As the SDSM’s main coalition partner in the new administration, the DUI received a number of key cabinet positions in return for supporting Zaev…”In the end – and with the support of the DUI – Zoran Zaev of the SDSM, was confirmed as the new Prime Minister in May 2017 and things gradually began to settle down.

Back in 2015, Zaev had condemned the DUI for being as corrupt as the VMRO-DPMNE. But he was now reliant on their support to govern, so – as a matter of “political expediency” – all of his former reservations about the SDSM’s new allies quickly disappeared.

As the SDSM’s main coalition partner in the new administration, the DUI received a number of key cabinet positions in return for supporting Zaev, including the Ministry for Economic Affairs which this time was placed in the hands of Kresnik Bekteshi.

“There can be little doubt that Safet Emruli’s appointment as head of the SOIP and subsequent reappointment in 2018 were significantly influenced by party political considerations.”In February 2018 the new government announced the appointment of 25 “Directors” affiliated with the DUI. Some of these were fresh appointments and others were renewals of existing appointments.

On that occasion, Bekteshi, the DUI minister in charge of the SOIP, ensured that his party comrade’s appointment as head of that agency was renewed.

Bekteshi and Topic in SOIP
EPO Vice-President Topić, a key enabler of Benoît Battistelli, cosying up to DUI Minister Bekteshi at a SOIP event in Skopje (October 2018).

There can be little doubt that Safet Emruli’s appointment as head of the SOIP and subsequent reappointment in 2018 were significantly influenced by party political considerations. This kind of appointment occurs in many countries, and it certainly seems to be par for the course in North Macedonia.

“In the next part we will take a look at Emruli’s academic record and his connections to universities in Macedonia and elsewhere.”But even if the appointment may have been primarily a political one, it must be said in Emruli’s defence that he can lay claim to a decent set of academic credentials and he has some kind of demonstrable track record as a legal scholar. So at least it can be argued that he had a credible level of qualification for a senior administrative position of this kind.

In the next part we will take a look at Emruli’s academic record and his connections to universities in Macedonia and elsewhere.

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