Mr. Mickoski, it been a month since you sat on the leader’s chair in VMRO-DPMNE. In what condition was the party then, or in other words, what did your predecessor, Nikola Gruevski, leave behind?
– I found VMRO-DPMNE in a relatively good condition, but with many current political challenges that are imposed and tied to a current political and social situation. VMRO-DPMNE is in the process of reorganization, which takes place on many levels where we have a natural change of personnel, which by itself does not imply renunciation of the previous ones, but offering a chance to new and fresh potentials and drawing on the experience of the existing staff, those who are willing to contribute to the strengthening of the party and its return to the winning paths.
The vast majority of MPs of VMRO-DPMNE are against the return to the Parliament and active participation in the work of Parliament in response to the arrests of the events of April 27th. On the other hand, it is a fact that you are facing international pressure to change the decision of the caucus. You, however, with becoming the leader of VMRO-DPMNE, stopped the daily protests and blockages at the intersections. How will you manage between the pressure from inside and outside and how will the party help and will be committed to the detainees in Skopje Prison in the future?
– The decisions of the parliamentary group are carried out jointly, it is a constituent and integrated part of VMRO-DPMNE and those decisions depend solely on MPs and the leadership of VMRO-DPMNE. We made a decision to attend the meeting where NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg addressed, because we did not want anyone to abuse our possible absence. We were, and remain by the policies oriented towards the European Union and NATO and our protest is primarily aimed at the authorities that carry out a brutal political persecution. MPs, artists and innocent citizens are in prison, employees are fired from work only because they have different opinions with the government. At the same time, while this is being done, the government is pushing dozens of laws in Parliament that are harmful and without any democratic debate. These are laws that the government consciously takes without the presence of the opposition because these laws provide additional privileges to the government and are part of the behind-the-spot coalition agreements that the citizens were not familiar with before the elections. Such is the law on civil servants, which legalizes in a certain way what has been done so far in an unlawful manner and procedures, that is, firing from work and demotions, they passed a law that increased the price of fuel, then it was ratified and the agreement with Bulgaria that contains harmful aspects for our national interests, but also they voted for a new unconstitutional law on languages that Macedonia, in spite of all the claims of the government, becomes a bilingual state. And all of this is happening without any debate, or opportunity to state counter-arguments. They are not ready to hear a different opinion, and their unanimity is convenient, and therefore I have the feeling that our absence from the parliament was a moment that they were waiting and wishing for, in order to adopt laws that are contrary to the interests of the citizens. In other words, they are provoking the departure from parliament, they defocus the public with other topics, as they pass ‘trains’ away from the public eye. We have not made a decision to finally return to Parliament, but there will be a definitive decision very soon. As for the detentions about April 27, it is quite certain that they are victims of political persecution, and we are the only country where MPs, an opera singer, an actor, a director, an architect and diligent and good administrative officials have been declared terrorists, and while they are sitting in prisons, convicted criminals are being release from there, because the government passed a law on amnesty. VMRO-DPMNE will help the victims of political persecution if they come out of prison, and trust me, this remains our commitment.
Mr. Mickoski, to the criticism that you will be just an extended arm of Nikola Gruevski, you replied that time would show if you would be someone’s puppet. What are the next moves you will make in order to consolidate VMRO-DPMNE and regain the disappointed membership from the policies of their party, as well as the disappointed citizens from the policies of the new government?
– It is necessary to unite the right bloc in Macedonia, strengthen the structures and attract every citizen, every capable person and potential who will want to get involved in the process of building Macedonia and offering a prosperous alternative versus everything that is harmful to happening the state. Following is the formation of a council of the VMRO-DPMNE executive committee composed of intellectuals, professors, people with potential, but also people with great life experience, as well as a team of advisers, among them there will be people with international experience, and with the origin of other European countries. We must mobilize the best that is at stake in order to resist what constitutes a common stumbling block of the state that is dragging us down, and that is the current Government. We have a complete and brutal stagnation and regression in many social spheres. The economy is dying, farmers struggle to survive, there is no delivery of promises, and the “loan” that they will do something better is irreversibly spent, because eight months have passed and the living situation of the citizens is not getting better. This is a real threat and a basic problem for many citizens. The standard of living is sinking.
In the end, perhaps the most important political issue at the moment, is the name dispute and the announcement of a quick resolution of the decades-old problem with Greece. You said that you personally, but also VMRO-DPMNE, is against the change of the constitutional name. Does that mean that you will not accept the possible compromise with our southern neighbor, whether you will insist on a referendum and how much the plebiscite is likely to succeed in a situation when other political entities would support the agreement, while VMRO-DPMNE currently has no real strength to gather more than 900,000 citizens “against” as prescribed by the procedure?
– At the moment we are not familiar with the details of the negotiations in order to say that we accept something or not. The government keeps the process non-transparent, and we do not want to comment on hypothetical situations, especially on such important and sensitive topics. Our position, related to the possible change of our constitution, and in order to change our constitutional name is clear, and on this issue it is unchanged. We encourage the governments of the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece to find a dignified solution that would not violate the Macedonian national identity and ultimately put an end to this issue. Regarding the referendum, we already stated our position and whether the referendum will succeed or not, it depends on many factors.