Speaker Xhaferi: Parliaments need to be open to citizens

Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi attended a conference on building modern, professional and representative parliaments on Tuesday.  Addressing the participants, Xhaferi said that Macedonia, over the past 27 years of parliamentary democracy, has taken significant steps towards becoming one of the world’s modern democracies. Proof of this, he said, was the last EC report that recommended Macedonia be given a date for starting negotiations with the EU.

Xhaferi added that for parliaments to indeed be democratic, they needed to work transparently and be open to citizens. He went on to brief guests, MPs and US Congress and non-governmental sector representatives on the Macedonian Parliament’s web page, which features a live stream of plenary sessions and a comprehensive archive.

U.S. Ambassador Jess Baily also spoke at the two-day conference organized by the House Democracy Partnership (HDP) in cooperation with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), USAID, and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

“Parliamentarians play a key role,” Ambassador Baily said, “in establishing the structures and norms that force institutions and officials to be open, inclusive and accountable.”

This is what helps citizens, he added, to better understand the nature of government. Often, when something did not work, Baily said, referring to politicians’ lack of accountability or the rule of law, citizens would shrug and dismiss it as the norm.

“But that’s what you want to avoid. People shrugging. Citizens need to be involved. That’s the main goal,” Baily said, stressing that it takes sustained efforts to achieve it.