IBNA interview with presidential candidate Stevo Pendarovski

University professor and government coordinator for relations with NATO, Stevo Pendarovski is the candidate of the governing coalition for the presidential elections that will take place on April 21. In this interview for IBNA, Pendarovski comments his nomination for the presidential elections and his platform. “In my opinion, without domestic social cohesion and without good regional cooperation, North Macedonia cannot be a democratic and prosperous state”, Pendarovski says.

Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti

Professor, this is the second time that you run for president. In 2014 you lost the election to current president Gjorge Ivanov. What made you run again?

The same thing that motivated me five years ago. What I offer is a chance for the development of North Macedonia and for this, we need to recognize two things: that we live in a multi-ethnic society and that there’s a need to be part of Euro-Atlantic integration process. Another reason also relates to the fact that we need to correct what was done in 2014. Nikola Gruevski’s scheme of vote rigging did not offer citizens a chance to vote their president freely.

What makes you different to the other two candidates in this race, Blerim Reka and Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova?

I have collaborated with professor Reka ten years ago when he was our ambassador to the EU and I know that there’s not a lot of difference between us in terms of our strategic goals.

Meanwhile, as far as the opposition’s candidate, Gordana Siljanovska is concerned, we’re divided by political concepts which have been overcome with the Ohrid Agreement in 2001. Such position is perfect recipe to isolation. By taking such position, the country could lose its chance to be involved in Euro-Atlantic integration processes, which is a prerequisite for stability and prosperity.

What are some of your challenges? Why should people vote for you?

I think that the agreements with Bulgaria and Greece have addressed many open contests that we had with our neighbours, while removing many obstacles that the country faced in its European integration path.  In the domestic plan, I do support the law on language, because it’s a legal obligation set out in the Ohrid Agreement. This issue concludes the issue of the inclusiveness of Albanians in this state. In my opinion, without domestic social cohesion and without good regional cooperation, North Macedonia cannot be a democratic and prosperous state

What are some of your priorities concerning foreign policy?

NATO and EU accession are some of the biggest priorities of my foreign policy. This is why there’s always been political consensus on this issue since 1993. To be part of Europe, you need to get along with your neighbours. That’s why balanced neighbouring relations are the key for a stable and integrated North Macedonia.