I remember the excitement quite well when we were waiting for the year 2000. New millennium. Many expectations and hopes. Looking to the future, but also up to the sky, towards the universe, expecting that in the millennium man will begin to conquer the space as well, with his mind, knowledge, innovation, and spread the good idea. At that time, I was 16 years old and in high school. I had so many expectations from Macedonia too! Part of these expectations came true the same year when Macedonia signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, and was first in the region to do it. First in the region! We expected that in no more than 10 years we will become a member of such a powerful, large group of countries in which people live well, have great economic progress and rule of law. Unfortunately, because of Greece, we are still dreaming this dream 18 years later and it is still not coming true. They want us to give up everything to join the club, totally contrary to the values that the club of countries stands for. In 2000, those who were born today have 18 years of age and are adults, and next year they will have the right to vote for the first time, to elect a President who would run the country. We have asked ourselves what this generation wants, what are its wishes, dreams, views, where it sees Macedonia in the future…
On August 12, the UN General Assembly Resolution 2000 celebrates the International Youth Day. The resolution is 18 years old, the same as those I dedicate this article to.
Every young person needs a good education, opportunities to improve his knowledge through practical work, employment, good healthcare, cultural and social life, security and conditions in which he can start a family in the future and create and live in the Republic of Macedonia.
Are we aware of how fast the world is changing?! How much of the things we considered as normal when we were 16 years old have changed since 2000, and is now totally out of style and useless, how many new technologies have evolved, as well as a new way of life. The massive use of the Internet, new technologies, travel without visas (just so the ones I dedicate this article know that until 2008 we had to go to embassies and apply for visas and maybe even get one), as well as low-cost flights followed by services like Airbnb and Booking enabled much greater mobility for a whole generation that can not be limited to its own city or state. That’s why the entire debate over the so-called eviction is set on the wrong old foundations that are no longer valid, if someone leaves Macedonia it no longer means that it is forever. Many of the new generation want to work and live abroad for 3-4 months and then return, and then repeat it again. These are the key questions, what does Macedonia do to make these people return more frequently and attract other young people from other countries who would like to spend part of their time, to spend 3-4 months a year in Macedonia and work from here. It seems like science fiction for some older generations, but this is the reality and we must adapt to it. The faster the better.
Here are some observations that can help Zaev’s government. Perhaps they will try to implement them at some leisure time between planning two criminal tenders. If they do not, the next VMRO-DPMNE government will work hard on this.
Young people today increasingly focus their creativity and energy on IT technology as one of the most promising professions, and this should force and stimulate young people to study IT technologies in the future. The faculties and the University of Information Science and Technology in Ohrid must receive much more funding from the state, and those who study there the possibility of scholarships and other benefits to be motivated to finish faster and to be more quality. Certainly there is a whole set of faculties that become part of the open market of freelancers. It’s a concept that the generation 2000 perfectly understands, meaning that you can work from where you want, you only need a computer and a phone.
In the past, VMRO-DPMNE encouraged young people to focus on this modern profession and made the information science more accessible to young people. Thus, faculties were opened in the smaller cities, and as one of the more successful projects is the University St. Paul the Apostle in Ohrid, where young people from other countries study, and where top professors from the country and abroad teach.
For these reasons, new technologies must be given a chance and more and more young people should be directed to study these sciences and their creativity to be properly targeted. IT technology must be the main driver of the state, the young people can do this, and in the Republic of Macedonia there are many success stories in which young IT experts received first prizes and made world-wide projects for large corporations. The state should subsidize these successful IT experts in every possible way. Unfortunately, this government got an idea to increase personal and income tax, a measure that directly affects young freelancers and IT developers. They should not allow young people who have decided to build their career in the Republic of Macedonia to leave the country because of the tax hikes or allow them to find ways to manipulate the law by reporting lower income, which will result in less money in the budget. The state, instead of absurd measures, should offer young people new tax breaks, especially popular freelancers, software developers, computer games developers or applications for mobile phones that work for export and foreign markets. By exporting such applications and projects, young people are adding value to Macedonia, and thus move the economy. No one should be permitted to increase the tax on profits of ten percent and the personal tax of ten percent. On the contrary, for young people working in the IT sector and having a marital union and having at least one child, the tax should be reduced to eight percent, which would help young married couples see their future in the Republic of Macedonia and reduce the brain drain. Preventing brain drain and leaving young people must be a priority for every government, young people are the future of the country. The popular freelancers and all young people who work from Macedonia for foreign corporations and firms need to open so-called hubs. Need for such hubs is needed outside Skopje, in the smaller towns where young freelancers can operate. This is important not only for our generation 2000 but for many others. There are tens of thousands of freelancers who want to change their place of residence for a certain period with some new ones. Most often their destination is not the big and overcrowded Paris or London, they want something small, clean, cheap and nice. We have such places, I am sure that a developer from Germany would come to Prespa, or a freelance architect from France would come to Berovo, or an economic freelance consultant from Italy in Ohrid. It is necessary to invest a little to rearrange the premises that the state or municipalities do not use, have a good Internet connection and basic equipment, and everything to be well-advertised on forums and sites, as well as blogs that deal with this. The results will then come. Macedonia must invest in the digital infrastructure and digitalization of the country, and an excellent example of this is Estonia and their E-Residency. Digital infrastructure must be improved in Macedonia, and therefore the life of the youth in the country.
Freelancers should not only be from the IT sector, they should encourage and stimulate freelance work in other areas and professions. Economists, accountants, graphic designers, interior designers and exterior architects can also be freelancers. Freelancers can be marketing experts, translators, social media experts and many other professions. All this should help and subsidize the state. If we want young people to stay here and build their future and career in the Republic of Macedonia, but also to return here, as well as foreigners to come here, we need to pay great attention and provide them with excellent conditions, conditions better than any other in the country’s region. Young people in Macedonia deserve it. This year young people who were born in 2000 start their academic education and are ahead of a crucial decision on their life and career. Young people follow the latest technology and constantly follow the world trends, why should not the world trends and new technology be created in Macedonia? In these days of wit and naked populism from the government that only if we change the name milk and honey will start flowing in the streets, here is a recommendation on which they can dedicate their time while waiting for the milk and honey. Generation 2000 deserves this!
The author is the Vice President of VMRO-DPMNE
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik