Everyone involved in the case, anyone who has broken the law in any way, will be held accountable and probed in a transparent judicial inquiry, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a short interview with MIA. There must be accountability both for the brains behind the whole thing and for those who are doing all they can to get away with it while playing the victim card.
“I am sorry if I’ve been misunderstood or misinterpreted by anyone, but I stick to my commitments and my faith in values that I’ve always fought for. We won’t allow the enemies of our country to achieve their plan and use criminals, manipulators and conmen to prevent the success of the country, joining NATO and opening EU accession talks”, said the prime minister.
According to him, both he and the government stand firmly in defense of freedom of speech, freedom of the media, and the defense of the human rights of all individuals, regardless of the statement a day earlier, which was taken as scandalous by the public.
“Both the government and I stand firm in protecting freedom of expression, freedom of the press and defending the human rights of all individuals in our country. To me and to the government, all people are equal. We don’t discriminate on any basis, be it religion, ethnicity, social status, politics, sexual orientation, etc. Together with all the citizens we’re dedicated to building and will continue to build the concept of one, common and fair society for all. The government stands firm in its commitment to non-discrimination and respect for the diversity in all communities in the country, including the LGBT community. There are no more attacks against LGBT people in North Macedonia, a free and safe pride parade took place and sexual orientation has now been included in the amendments to the new anti-discrimination law, on which the opposition voted against”, said Prime Minister Zaev.
Regarding the “Racket” case, Zaev believes that any citizen, regardless of being a politician or a journalist, is subject to the rule of law and public interest to report to competent authorities all indications and information on any abuse, just as he was the first to report this case.
“The primary objective in resolving the Racket case must be public, not personal interest. As I openly and without prejudice believe in and stand for a just society, I too, respect my own right to use the same terms and vocabulary as everyone else in order to point to negative occurrences or individuals in society. I’m talking about people’s character traits and conduct. Just as I respect and promote from the bottom of my heart the core values of journalism, i.e. free speech, expression of criticism, I also have the right to say if someone is being vain or has other intentions in creating a public uproar”, explained Zaev.
He added that in the past two years he had completely rejected the former regime’s established regime’s practice of pressuring journalists, controlling the media and using state resources for mass advertising propaganda paid with the citizens’ money.
“In the past two and a half years we’ve fully ditched the regime-like practice of the former administration to exert pressure on journalists, control media outlets and use state funds for large-scale advertising propaganda, paid by the taxpayers’ money. In the past two years, the Ministry of the Interior has investigated cases involving threats and attacks on the citizens, committed in the past. It proves it no longer serves as a repression tool. The society has been fully freed from the pressure of the regime, which has contributed to a decrease in the number of threats and attacks, including those on journalists and members of the LGBTI community. The media organizations and journalists are fully engaged in all reforms implemented to democratize and make sure the media are professional. They’ll keep playing an important role in reform implementation in the period to come. Figures and indicators of several international organizations, such as ‘Reporters Without Borders’, speak volumes about how freedom of the media and working conditions for professional media outlets have been improved. At the same time, it’s my duty as prime minister to inform the citizens about what is going on in the society and the reason for it. Without a doubt, this isn’t a threat, an intimidation, influence or pressure on anyone, regardless of what the intentions are. I am truly sorry if I’ve been misunderstood or misinterpreted, which is why I’m making this clarification. But I remain committed to my values I’ve been fighting for all my life”, Zaev pointed out.
According to the prime minister, it is clear that this is about information war. Defining it as a threat to national security, President Pendarovski called for thorough fact-checking of all the information without any violation to the freedom of expression, because some information are solely intended to undermine the trust of the citizens in justice and state institutions.
“This is part of the fight when justice and democracy could finally declare victory over crime and manipulation. It’s traumatic, but necessary”, said Zaev, urging citizens to rest assured that the country has the capacity. Being supported by the public and the Western democratic world, the country won’t allow the enemies of our country to realize their plan by using criminals, manipulators and conmen to prevent the country from succeeding, from joining NATO and starting talks with the EU.
“This case proves our fight makes sense. As the institutions are functioning, together with the citizens they are showing unwavering resistance to flaws. Every country where the government is dedicated to creating conditions for the opening of investigations based on even the slightest suspicion has found it hard, being even somewhat traumatized. It won’t be easy here, too. It’s going to be hard, but we have to persevere in order to become a state where rule of law prevails.
I have to mention that I was me who reported the case first, and thus, as a citizen and as prime minister I have the right to demand all those involved be brought to justice in a transparent court procedure.
There must be accountability both for the brains behind the whole thing and for those who are doing all they can to get away with it while playing the victim card”, said PM Zaev.