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Naumov: Both the President and the Prime Minister were chosen at my home

Kiro Gligorov came at the celebration on the occasion of the referendum after Kljusev repeatedly asked for him several times. We had the evening to celebrate, because the next day was a Bulgarian holiday. The First Minister of Justice of Macedonia, Gjorgi Naumov recalls the creation of all institutions, the taking of JNA's military records in 1991, and the beginning of what later turned into a criminal privatization, whose effects are felt today

It was you with a newspaper in your pocket on the cover of the weekly magazine “Republika”.
Naumov: On the  square then called “Marshal Tito”, and today ‘s “Macedonia” we declared Macedonia a sovereign and independent state. In history will stay remembered that the declaration of this important date in state formation history of the Macedonian people on a stagethat had no representatives (we previously declared a pluralistic system) that belong to another political party other than the designated national party or VMRO DPMNE, except for Kiro Gligorov, who had a LCM passbook 001.
In one of Republika’s issues, Stojan Andov, then Speak of the Macedonian Parliament, admitted that he was not on the stage, he had work to do, the next day he was in Greece, and he said he did not know where Branko Crvenkovski, Petar Gosev and others were. However, there was Gligorov. Did Gligorov come alone?
Naumov: It is a big shame that the first president of the multiparty Parliament, who signed the decision for  conducting referendum, did not came on the day of the declaration of independence and went to Greece. I and many others have interpreted his departure to Greece as a move to escape from the Republic of Macedonia in case JNA, which was still present, made a turmoil, and liquidated the first Government and the people who promoted the declaration of independent Macedonia. These days we read that Vlado Kambovski along with Ante Markovic, were present when such decisions were brought to replace the existing government, to liquidate it and instead place people who will obey Belgrade. In that context, there was also a threat by Mitre Arsovski, General of the Yugoslav Army, who on TV here in Skopje, said that the Government which will take up JNA’s military records would be liquidated. “I’m a General and if necessary, I will bombard you ,” he said.
Later on, he came to VMRO-DPMNE. He was a deputy or adviser to Nicola Kljusev at the Defense Ministry. Kiro Gligorov came after Prime Minister Kljusev send him three messages via pager: Kiro please come, will are going to declare independence, we are going to announce the results, please come as soon as possible, 24 p.m. will pass and September 9 is a Bulgarian holiday. And he came. The first people that went on the stage were the four us, citizens of Stip – Gligorov, Jordan Mijalkov, Kljusev and me. There was no one else. Then came all the others who were on the stage. Among them, unfortunately, there also were people who then changed their political and ideological option and are presented themselves as non-Macedonians, Macedonian Bulgarians and so on and one, who was in the Yugoslav secret agency, an Ambassador who several times shifted his party passbook when it was not appointed to certain offices. Unfortunately, now he is an ambassador, but that is not my job.
You mentioned the military records of former JNA.
Naumov: This issue about taking military records was set up very quickly since the war began in Slovenia and Croatia. During May-June 1991 Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, JNA was in with Bosnia and Herzegovina and it was going to spill over into Macedonia. Then VMRO-DPMNE MP group, which has historical contribution and which I consider as statehood party, sought a referendum which would decide on the independence of Macedonia so we could function as an independent state. Prior to the referendum, Jordan Mijalkov, who was the Interior Minister at the time, came into my office and told me: “Godfather, a thought is hunting me. I want to take the military records in order to save our children from going as cannon fodder, and at the same time to save our parents, who 14,000 of 16,000 were recruited to go to JNA.” “That sound like a great idea, I answered, just tell me how can we realize it. Let’s go to the Prime Minister”. Went to the Prime Minister, told him about Jordan Mijalkov’s idea, then Kljusev nodded his head: “Yes, it is a good idea, let’s call the Vice President of the socio-political system in the Government.” That was Blaze Ristovski. He came, we talked how to take the records, where to place them. Jordan proposed to take them to the Ministry of Interior, somewhere in its warehouses. I reacted and said that the ministry is an institution with weapons, that JNA has weapons, a war might start. I proposed to put them in the cellars of Parliament. I said that if JNA came with weapons and tanks, will would call the citizens to make a living wall before the Parliament building and save the military records. At that time in Bosnia, mothers lay before the Parliament building and prevented a JNA incursion. But the proposal was not adopted. We decided to take the military records at midnight and put them in several trucks that would go through Macedonia. Because JNA is not interested in trucks, the police did not stopped and and did not control them. So they were on the road for a week. After the military records were taken, the next day Kljusev called a Government meeting. There he informed the ministers about the act that was made for safety reasons, in case of Belgrade found out and intervened. Risto Damjanovski, the Defense Minister at the time said: “That cannot be. It is against the Constitution. The Federal Constitution is still valid.” I knocked at the table and said, with rougher words: “Leave it Risto, we will make you a Macedonian general!” Then it was announced that he would be the general Yugoslavia. And he said: “What about your godson turning off my phones last night, and the red and the usual so Belgrade had to call me via other phones.” Without thinking I said: “Riste, you’re not Gorbacov to have your phones turn off” and Gorbacov was on vacation at the time, and his phones were turned off when there was a coup d’etat, and there was general laughter. And so we took the military records.
Then we went to Kiro Gligorov and he asked us: “What have you done, do you hear how Mitre Arsovski and the other generals are threatening us?” That time, really, from below, a military convoy from the airport was heading to Skopje. We were told that JNA was coming to Skopje with arms. I said, we are done. We were in the Assembly. If they sacrifice us, let us be sacrificed for Macedonia. However, when they reached the court building near “Mavrovka”, instead of turning towards the Assembly, they turned towards the barracks “Marshal Tito”. We felt relief.
The question was what to do? JNA was threatening us, so Jordan Mijalkov proposed on the evening and the following days not to sleep at home. Gligorov in his memoirs writes that he said he would stay at home, “I locked everywhere, a called a journalist and gave an interview, and I told the journalist – one copy for me, one for you. If JNA attacks, Skopje Radio to broadcast everything until it can ‘people please give a passive resistance, go before the Parliament building, boycott the new (possible) government, so we can survive as an independent country.’ “
Andov said he would ask his Maria, his wife. Jordan Mijalkov and Kljusev were hiding in the Ministry’s premises, or on Vodno, changed locations for a few nights until things calmed down a bit. But Gligorov said: “Now you VMRO people are very active, let me see you now, Jordan, if JNA attacks you should undertake actions in Bitola (we had some paramilitary units in Bitola, Lions, Phalanx, etc.), raise a rebellion with your VMRO people, lead the the people to the Parliament building, write slogans ‘We do not want Yugoslavia’, ‘We do not want JNA.’ ” Then Dinevski wrote a slogan “Macedonian people protest against JNA.” That is how things were going. Taking the military records is Jordan Mijalkov’s merit, which it saved 16,000 children from going to JNA.

How was the first government constituted? How were Glogorov and Georgievski elected for President and Vice President respectively?

Naumov: Let us start with Gligorov. EVen before the first plural parliament was constituted, between the first and second elections rounds, it was obvious VMRO-DPMNE will win. That is when SKM-PDP sent a message it wishes to negotiate with VMRO-DPMNE on division of the future government. They put forth the proposal, we were looking for the location, and they made an agreement with my son, who was member of the top leadership, along with Ljubco and Zmejko, to choose my home, the apartment where I live, as a meeting location. Then, one December evening, Gligorov, Petar Gosev, Tito petkovski, Georgievski, Zmejkovski and my son came over. I was the host. Before we had started with the negotiations, which lasted till 3-4 am, I said: let me first introduce myself. Gosev and Petkovski knew I was an official, Deputy Public Prosecutor of Macedonia. I belong to this wing, I come from a repressed family, which astonished Petkovski. The following day he checked in CC if I was a member. Then, he asked how come I was Deputy Public Prosecutor? Well, you would have to ask Boro Denkov and Cemerski, I replied.

The main purpose of their visit was for us, as VMRO-DPMNE, to give consent for Kiro Gligorov to be state president, Andov  – parliament speaker, while the rest will be divided. I did agree, while the younger members declined. I based my decision on the fact that I knew Gligorov. That after 1945, after ASNOM and the ASNOM Republic were constituted, he was in fact expelled from Macedonia. Lazar Kolisevski’s letter basically sent him to work as an economis in Belgrade, where he remained for 45 years. The other thing that motivated me, was that during the National Liberation War, he objected the ANOK (Antifascist National Liberation Committee) project. Having that on my mind, I have said to myself: he will be a good Macedonian, he accepts VMRO’s programme. I kept suggesting him, but my people kept refusing to select him. They did not want to select him because Ljupco Georgievski was not an MP, he did not get elected. He came over to my house, asked if he can be a prime minister?! Son, how can you be a prime minister, you are only 24 years old… even I would not not dare to be one myself, I answered.


How old were you back then?

Naumov: I was 60, he was 24. Ok, I said, Ljubco Georgievski will be vice president? But, Blaze wanted to, as well. He wanted to, but I said NO. Blaze was not a VMRO member, he was with MAAK. So, we decided that Ljubco Georgievski will be the vice president.

First, on January 25th the condition of Declaration for Independent Macedonia was in order. After the Declaration was passed on January 27th, Kiro Gligorov was immediately elected President. Georgievski was elected a couple of days after. So, Gligorov became President of the state and made the moves he had promised – establishment of independent Macedonia. He started attending rallies, started saying: “the battle for Yugoslavia’s survival shall begin now, Macedonia is bloody interested for Yugoslavia to survive”. We were the other option. One option was independent Macedonia, the other was pro Yugoslavia.

VMRO-DPMNE proposed Kiro four prime minister candidates: Lepavcev, Kosturski, Bogdanov and Milan Stavrev, deputy director of the National Bank. They were all masters or PhD degrees holders, but Kiro did not accept any of them. He just did not, they were, allegedly, not qualified enough, while Branko, with zero qualifications, was chosen later.

In order to avoid political crisis and new elections (in which we would have won not 38, but 60 MPs, so it might have been better if there were new elections…), I delivered a list to Gligorov, which he had to choose from. On top of the list I placed my brother Haum, renowned economist, but he was rejected due to his illness – leukemia; Eftimov – VMRO-DPMNE’s MP during Georgievski’s mandate; Boshko Tonev – director of the Agricultural Bank in Belgrade – they jailed him; than Borce Josifovski; Blaze Ristovski – also convicted later. And in that moment Jordan Mijalkov came back from Prague.


I called him on the phone: “Jordan, come back, we are going to constitute a state! I will make you interior minister.” And, he came. He came over at my place that evening, saw the list I have put together, and said: “But, Nikola Kljusev is not on the list”. I said: “Listen, I love Nikola Kljusev as a determined national, but Kljusev was not meant to be VMRO”. We were putting together a list of VMRO members who were meant for VMRO, supporters of the national idea. However, Jordan insisted, so I put Kljusev fifth on the list. Kiro’s first choice was Blaze Ristovski. Just like me, Blaze was also 63 years old and he also declined. Blaze said: “Gjorgji, you are in touch with Kiro, go and tell him Kljusev should be the prime minister, I will be his deputy”. I said it cannot be done. VMRO does not agree. Than, Kiro’s second choice was Kljusev indeed, so he became prime minister. That is how the officials were selected.

When Jordan Mijalkov came back from Prague, I said to him: “Wait for me on Vodno, by the school on the junction, I will pick you up and we will head to Kiro Gligorov.” This is where we negotiated and I told him: “Mr. President, this man should be interior minister, I should be justice minister.” He said: “Gjorgi, you are a reliable man, whatever you say”. He would accept anything I would suggest just to get to the presidential chair. And, that is how the government was constituted.

Newspapers of that time mention the issue of VMRO-DPMNE and the media.

Naumov: You see, “Nova Makedonija” and its director Pande Kolemisevski were famous in that time, but now I see he turned a different page, he has a new vision, new points of view, he must be correcting himself to woo to someone. Kolemisevski, Sholjakovski, Mirka Velinovska, a “new echo from Krusevo”, when we affronted Kiro Gligorov, “Ljubco is looking for patriot fighters”, Banov, Trickovsk etc., were the fiercest fighters against VMRO-DPMNE. We were called “horsemen of the apocalypse”, “bugarophils”, “bandits”, “drunks” etc. True, there were such among us: drunk, bearded, but I was not ashamed of them. I walked next to them, we shared the same ideals, they all knew me, even prosecutors and judges, nobody would object to me about it. They would say to me: how can you sit on a table with Zmejko? I would reply: would should be on the inside to change him, you cannot do that by staying outside. So, they were fierce opponents of the idea of Ilinden celebration on 2nd August 1997, when I stated at the Executive Committee meeting: we should be the ones who organize Ilinden celebration this time, because we are VMRO members, it belongs to us. After the celebration was through, newspapers, Mirka Velinovska, described us as “horsemen of the apocalypse” etc., and she is now on our side, she defends us.

Which year were you not allowed to lay flowers on Pitu Guli’s tomb in Krusevo?

Naumov: In 1997, me, Zmejko, Dosta, Ljubco Georgievski, the four of us standing with flowers in our hands to lay it on Pitu Guli’s tomb, when MoI stopped us, as if we are apatriots etc. As for bugarophils, I personally delivered the lawyer certificate to Kiro Gligorov from 1943, in which, while registering, he wrote in his request: “Your citizen, Bulgarian Kiro Gligorov”. That is how things were at that time, he says. And they called us ‘Bulgarian party’? Why don’t I put a signature that I am Bulgarian now?

The question of the relation between media and building/defending ideology and making noise regarding VMRO… it is an echo that is still present nowadays…

Naumov: VMRO to be banned. They always used to say VMRO-DPMNE is nationalistic, fascist, pro-Bulgarian party, but they could not see people’s spirit. We fought a battle with Zmejkovski, with Ljubco Georgievski, especially my son. We went to Blaze when the party was being established. Not just DPMNE. Prefix VMRO is what will unite the party. It was no coincidence that Macedonians came out to rallies with candles in their hands. It was something spiritual, it spoke of most of the people was determined to follow VMRO’s ideas, to accomplish those ideas, while communists did not want an independent country of Macedonia. Us, VMRO-DPMNE, we managed to win 38 MP seats and ever since than, except for in 1994 when we abstained, we always do better. In 1996, in 1998 and the nine times after, VMRO constantly wins over 38 MPs, reaching 44, 56, and now – 61 MPs, and in my opinion – up until SDSM does not re-access themselves that they are also Macedonians. If they are Macedonians, they will support the Macedonian cause. Macedonian people is pro-statehood.

Part of the government was involved in crime during the period of the Yugoslavian embargo?

Naumov: The leadership was aware of the embargo breach and they gained part of their wealth by exporting steel, weapons, just any type of goods from Macedonia to Serbia and Montenegro. So, direction: Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia. The embargo was breached by high-end directors, and the second vice prime minister – Regan – was aware of it. Eventually, he also ran away of that government of Crvenkovski, which he later called apprentice government, amateurish etc.

And instead of chasing criminals, Pavle Trajanov was expelled of the Interior Ministry – he publicly pointed out to the crime of top government officials.

Naumov: Yes, it is true that in the time of Frckovski, Pavle Trajanov stated there is crime in the government. However, Frckovski gave him a deadline, but no charges were filed. I do not know what has Frckovski done, whether he withdrew them. But than later, he also became a minister and did not activate them. Those charges to not expire in one or two years, but in ten r twenty. Some of them have not expired yet. I could not help, but wonder how does Trajanov spoke in an interview with you of that criminalization. But, I must point out that both Pavle Trajanov and Slobodan Bogoevski were given the sack by the old socialist regime, and when we gained the government, they would come to me asking for support…

That case had a name…

Naumov: Yes, “The Eight”… They would come to my home to ask for positions in the MoI, just because they used to give me information during the elections of Ljubco Georgievski and Dosta Dimovska. I checked them and and I was confirmed they were really keeping us informed. I told them they will receive my support, but that we are also negotiating with Goshev. Then, they said they also have Goshev’s support. I then realized they were active on two fronts – the have been informing both us and Goshev.


On December 19 the first Interior Minister, Jordan Mijalkov, died.

Naumov: I remember it as if it was today – a Government meeting was held on December 19. Before it started, I asked to say something: “Prime Minister, today is Saint Nicholas, where is the breakfast?” That was his name day, so that is exactly what he has done – we all had breakfast and began with the agenda. Denko Malevski was sitting next to me, Jordan Mijalkov to follow. After a while, Jordan was gone. I asked his deputy where has he had gone, and he said he went home. But, Jordan opened the door behind me, called Kljusev, and told Gligorov he will go to Belgrade to meet with Gracanin. Both Kljusev and Gligorov have confirmed that. Kljusev told Jordan: “Well, it’s yours to decide”. As a prime minister, he did not tell him: “Wait, do not go, we have a constitution, we are an independent country, there is nothing for us there”. Mijalkov left home, changed, took a handbag and hit the road, where he died. In my opinion, Kiro Gligorov and Nikola Kljusev were not supposed to send him, minister of one country must not go without the permission of the president and prime minister. And, Gligorov has sent him at a meeting with the federal minister.

Why did he sent him?

Naumov: To prevent the existence of sovereign Macedonia and to realize that small Yugoslavia, the platform Gligorov – Izetbegovic. On that December 19 Jordan left with the driver and there near Bujanovac an accident occurred, organized or not I do not know. Pavle Trajanov and Slobodan Bogoevski brought the vehicle by means of transportation. Jordan’s handbag was gone. It contained important documents about The Eight case, about Stojan Andov.

But where is Mijalkov’s handbag with the documents?

Naumov: Pavle Trajanov and Slobodan Bogoevski should tell that. They were in charge. They carried what they carried in the helicopter, but the documents were gone.

Did you suspect some scenarios back then?

Naumov: Well, Gracanin, I was present in MoI at one point when Jordan spoke with Gracanin on the phone. Gracanin said: “Are we going to cooperate?” and Jordan replied: “We will cooperate on an equal basis.” Then he left for Belgrade for Kiro Gligorov insisted he went to Belgrade. What they did, how they did it, remains unknown. It can not be discovered whether he received appropriate therapy in Serbia. Or they had understood that he was the Minister of Interior of Macedonia, and Serbia was interested Macedonia to remain a regional unit, I do not know.

Among other things, why would Gligorov sent Mijalkov in Belgrade to talk with the federal minister, together with Montenegrin Minister, and the referendum had already been passed, the declaration of sovereignty had been adopted, the documents or international recognition of independence had been submitted?

Naumov: Yes, it was adopted after the Constitution, immediately after the referendum. We waited to submit the proposal to the UN, we waited Kiro Gligorov to send a request to be admitted and recognized under the name Republic of Macedonia.

Gligorov wanted Macedonia to stay within the framework of a small Yugoslavia, the platform Gligorov – Izetbegovic was then actual. There was no UN notification, so we gathered and went to Kiro Gligorov. “Kiro, what happened to the Declaration of Macedonia’s sovereignty, you haven’t sent it to the UN,” we asked him. He said: “I sent it, but first it needs to go to Belgrade, to the UN diplomat in Belgrade, so he can send it, I can not directly send it by skipping him.” And when we saw, the Declaration was not signed nor the letter sent. The Declaration of Macedonia’s sovereignty had to be sent to the UN, and Kiro was sending it to Belgrade. The letter with which he was about to sent it was not signed. He said, my people made mistake. And then seven or eight ministers pressed Kiro to send it. But it was too late, Europe pressured by the Greeks said that we can not be recognized under the name Republic of Macedonia.


By: Naum Stoilkovski
Photo: Gjorgi Licovski