President Gjorge Ivanov did not use the delicacy of the political moment in the country – in which his regular annual address to the MPs happened – in order to promote a new style of performing the function – according to the major changes that took place in the year he observed.
The head of state missed a chance in the premier full parliamentary hall on the occasion of his address to show that he was ready to reform himself, according to the reforms that are in place, and for whose implementation his involvement is expected.
Despite all the political turbulence that marked the year 2017, and for which he himself contributed, Ivanov remained true to the rhetoric filled with contradictions, conspiracy theories and locating enemies, and without a dose of self-criticism and objectivity in relation to the wrong moves of political like-minded people. In the Assembly Hall full of new characters, but also with famous figures in other positions, Ivanov performed with the old manners.
In doing so, he did not leave the impression that he recognizes the new political reality in the country, and that he himself is ready for reconciliation with political opponents – as he spoke of seeking justice and reform instead of revenge and political persecution.
In his first address to the ninth parliamentary group, the president spoke about the security services as creators of political conflicts in Macedonia, without specifying what his role is in being “the father of the nation”, as the high commander or as the head of the Counterintelligence Agency. In his first speech in his second term in front of a full parliamentary hall, which included the MPs of SDSM and DUI, Ivanov diagnosed a permanent political crisis in the country, not referring to his personal contribution to the suppression of crisis situations, such as for instance, it did so by prolonging the process of forming a new government. It is precisely his daily political tactics that gave his mandate a great deal of contributing to the upheaval of clashes in the political arena that culminated in violence in parliament on April 27. But Ivanov only indirectly mentioned those critical developments – right before the change of power.
The president spoke of how, in November, there were MPs with handcuffs, without a deprivation of immunity, but did not say that on that April night we saw MPs with bloody heads and pulled hair. Ivanov repeated that he supports those who protested peacefully two months earlier, according to him, thus expressing concern for state interests. But he did not say that the state’s top interest at that moment was to legitimize the new parliamentary majority as soon as possible, instead of buying time for a longer stay in power of the already illegitimate government.
Between the lines, we heard from the head of state that he does not plan to sign the new law on the use of languages and that it can become a common practice in relation to other government laws. But he did not admit that it would probably be his first veto in the almost nine-year mandate, since previously he was amazed by the most controversial laws of the former ruling headquarters without any objection.
Due to the recent change of power, Ivanov was objectively prevented from criticizing the Social Democrats this time, as he did so until last year while in opposition. Therefore, he directed his attack to the northwest, pouring a dozen criticisms to neighboring countries, such as Albania, Kosovo and Serbia – accusing some of them of interference in Macedonia’s internal affairs, and accusing others for aiding terrorist acts to our territory, and third for counterintelligence fraud. However, he has softened his tone towards the international community, this time only pointing out that NATO membership and the date for negotiations with the EU are the only way for Macedonia to return to normal.
The least that one could expect from a president whose political baggage is full of personal stakes in the galloping crisis in the country in recent years is to acknowledge some of the mistakes and offer them a hand for cohabiting the new “tenants” of Ilindenska Street no.2. But this was exactly what was absent in the ninth and possibly not his last address of Ivanov in front of parliament, full of empty phrases – even for pollution of the air and soil, and also of the media space. From that aspect, the presidential speech sounded like “fake news”.