A short report on the government’s work before the New Year

Gjorgji Spasov

In less than seven months, after the new government was formed, many things have changed in Macedonia:
First. Macedonia has opened to the world and its neighbors. Today, the world speaks of Macedonia as a country with a reform-oriented government, which deserves international support for NATO and EU membership, and as a country with leaders whose policy and speech change the political ambiance in the Balkans. Since the formation of the government, Macedonia has changed its face from the troubled country in the Balkans into a good example of a country that can give the opportunity to unblock the process of EU and NATO enlargement with new members, and thus permanently stabilize the region. And that’s not a small change.

Second. The civil concept of SDSM and Zaev for Macedonia as a society of equal citizens, which is being implemented by the government, leads to resolving unresolved issues in the sphere of interethnic relations without prejudice and with great courage. And this strengthens internal stability and social cohesion.

Third. The judiciary in Macedonia has taken justice in its own hands. Perhaps the judicial reforms are slowly taking place, but prosecuting people who have committed crimes, the policy of impunity that has existed for a long time in Macedonia is overcome, and the suspicions that no one will be held responsible will be removed.

Fourth. Today, hardly anyone believes that someone will allow illegal wiretapping of citizens, and there are ongoing changes that will make it unlikely.

Fifth. Unproductive spending in all spheres of the society, such as for the construction of monuments, panoramic wheels, baroque facades and propaganda film projects has been stopped. An order was placed in the payment of subsidies for agriculture, an audit was carried out and a plan for completing the highways and other infrastructure projects in the country was prepared.

Sixth. We don’t even notice that the propaganda from the media that spread hatred towards the opponents is gone. There is no propaganda that, on a daily basis, invented external and internal enemies, which did not share the opinion of the patriots and traitors, and who could mislead everyone at any time without any reason. It seems normal that the current government does not spend millions of euros in corrupting the media and its propaganda, and that there is actual freedom of the media.

Seventh. Macedonia got a new local government, formed for the first time with the help of pre-election interethnic coalitions, which offers not only higher interethnic cooperation and stability in the municipalities, but also a higher degree of transparency, accountability and prevention of corruption.

Eighth. Macedonia avoided mass layoffs and political revanchism after the change of power that was a feature of the defeated regime, the government manages to cohabit with President Ivanov, and makes efforts for the opposition to be included in the reform processes.

Ninth. The external exams, for which they were many protests, were abolished; the problematic reforms in higher education that abolished the autonomy of the university were stopped, the dispersed studies were abolished, and the new government works on improving the quality of the educational programs, textbooks and institutions.

Tenth. The lowest salary was raised to 12 thousand denars, the problem of the redundant workers was resolved, they search for a solution to the problems of vulnerable categories of citizens, wages in the army and in a number of other areas have increased, and the average salary increased by 4.7%, which is the highest increase in the last 7 years.

And of course, that all this is not enough. It is not enough that after a public criticism of an important state body like the SEC, all its members resigned, which was unthinkable before the changes of power.
In Macedonia, after 11 years the regime, there are high expectations and big promises arrived with them. But that should not be the reason for such quick disappointments.

Today, criticism of power is considered a constructive contribution to democracy, and critics are welcomed, and not persecuted or discredited. It is clear that there are many dissatisfied citizens from the personnel decisions on some positions in power and from the sluggishness in correcting some injustices.

However, there are individuals who quite unjustifiably claim that nothing has been done. Therefore, Zaev should forget about foreign policy for a while, and devote himself to domestic problems. He ought to return to the country and see what is happening, because things had already gone wrong.

Unfortunately the government, after having been recommended to “work more and spend less time on PR”, seemed to forget that it was obliged to systematically provide the facts about its work and that it must be able to defend itself in democratic debate from unfounded criticisms that form the public opinion.

The public relations service of the government must not be reduced to the Ministry of Accountability and Transparency, because this is the work of each ministry, and not one particular ministry. That service should manage, at a high professional level, the government’s relations with the key public at home and abroad. The service needs to manage relations with the media. To deal with crisis management and the brand of government. It is not a propagandist of the government that is tasked with embellishing the public image of the government, or some kind of ministry of truth tasked with communicating, regulating and controlling, but must be a highly professional service which, on the basis of systematic monitoring of public reactions, research, analysis and scientifically validated facts, suggests policy changes, behavior, and communication between government and government officials in line with given election promises and in line with predictable expectations. It is the doctor who solves problems. And it must be capable of accurate diagnosis but also for prescribing therapy. Provided that the patients felt that they need it and that they wants to change.