Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev called the Kosovo President Hashim Thaci last night and apologized for what he said in a conversation with Russian comedians, while thinking he was talking to the former President of Ukraine. Zaev underlined that everything he said about the allocation of 10 Kosovo municipalities to Serbia is based on misinformation and data of the Sputnik portal. He claimed that he did not have any official information on what he said during the conversation, Thaci said at a media conference today, the Gazeta Express reported.
The Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev recently became a victim of Russian comedians Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov. Stolyarov and Kuznetsov recently posted a recording of a phone conversation they had with Zaev, who believed he was talking to former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, on their You Tube channel.
As reported by Al Jazeera, this is not the only conversation that these „pranksters“ had with the Prime Minister of North Macedonia. Apart from having conducted three discussions on behalf of the former Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, they falsely presented themselves as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Zaev first talked to “Stoltenberg” and “Poroshenko” in August last year from the government cabinet, Al Jazeera wrote, while the other two conversations took place in January and April this year with the alleged Ukrainian President via Whats App.
A more than an hour long video clip shows a conversation the Russians had with Zaev on various topics – from international relations, Serbia and Kosovo, to Russian influence in the region, Al Jazeera reported.
While talking to“Stoltenberg,” Zaev said he was very concerned about the developments between Kosovo and Serbia:
„Secretary General, I am very concerned about the latest developments between Serbia and Kosovo, as you know, they are trying to change the borders and territory, and I think it’s the Russian influence.“
Zaev also talked to „Poroshenko“ about Kosovo. He told him that the presidents, Thaci and Vucic agreed on the “idea of changing the borders.” Furthermore, he warned that this could provoke “a new war in the Balkans” and that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is completely against this idea.
Zaev said yesterday at a press conference that he was „very sorry about everything“ and apologized to the citizens „for falling for this manipulation.“
He suggested that he should not resign because of this, emphasizing that „such omissions“ should not be allowed to happen.
„Last night, I had an about 20-minutes-long telephone conversation with Zaev. He called me to clarify what he talked about with the people who called him. He clearly told me that this was a case where he was a victim of fraud. Allegedly, the information about the 10 municipalities that will be given to Serbia is based on misinformation and data of the Sputnik portal and Russian hearsay. He apologized to me personally and to Kosovo. At the same time, he stressed that what he had spoken to the con artists about, who called him on the telephone, was not based on facts, that there was no evidence for that, nor official information, but that everything was based on hearsay,“ Thaci said today, as reported by Pristina-based Gazeta Express.
When asked about the future state of relations with North Macedonia, Thaci said the countries would continue to have good relations.
According to Gazeta Express, Zaev also gave the telephone numbers of the Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj and US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Wess Mitchell to the Russian „pranksters.“
The media reported that this is not the first time that the Russian duo had spoken to political officials and that they also targeted the French President, Emmanuel Macron, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj and Montenegrin Prime Minister, DuskoMarkovic.
While talking to „Poroshenko“, the Macedonian Prime Minister also discussed the problem of the independence of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Zaev informed „Poroshenko“ that the Serbian Orthodox Church is disputing the independence of the Macedonian church. According to Zaev, the Serbian Orthodox Church „is under the control of the Russian Orthodox Church.“
“Poroshenko” then described his experience in obtaining the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and informed Zaev that he could help him with this process, but that a personal cash donation to the patriarch Bartholomew is, according to his experience, one of the conditions.
„That’s fine, there will be donations, in cash, of course. We will do it because we need help to connect. Of course, we will do it,“ Zaev replied.
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