Zaev in an interview with ‘Politika’: I believe the referendum will succeed

The patriotic duty of every politician, especially to every prime minister, is to take care for the interest of the citizens who gave their trust and for the interest of the state. I am prepared for leadership, to lead all processes which mean security, strengthening the international position of Macedonia and the region. I feel fulfilled, because I serve the citizens and the state and I work on realization of a great vision, good for everyone, PM Zoran Zaev said in Sunday’s interview with Belgrade-based newspaper Politika answering question on his feelings following the “political revolution” reached by pen and signing of agreement with Greece at Prespa Lake.

“If we received confirmation, erga omnes of our Macedonian identity and language, if the geographical qualifier North we added in our name Macedonia opens the road to the EU and NATO, if the agreement puts our state Macedonia on the map of states in the world at a dignified level, with identity completely protected, for centuries and centuries, if this agreement means an ease and a confirmation for Greece that we have no territorial or other pretensions to the geographical region of Macedonia that is on the Greek side, then the only thing we can say is that both sides lost is vanity that showed up until new political leadership of the states sat on the table,” Zaev said when asked who won and who lost with the new name Republic of North Macedonia.

“Macedonia and Greece firstly got political leaders, who are ready to carry dignified and courageous decisions for the benefit of their citizens, and now they got both good friend and neighbour, and they gave the world the courage, that if there are good intentions and will, there is a solution to every problem. Macedonia got present and secured a future, and secured the promise of its ancestors by signed agreements with Bulgaria and Greece; Macedonians to have their own, respected and internationally recognized state,” Zaev said.

Giving an explanation of the familiar details of the Prespa agreement with Greece, the name of the state, the maintaining the Macedonian identity, language, MKD code … Zaev in the interview said that “the state institutions will follow the principle of the agreement and the newly established name. All other organizations, associations, companies, can use the adjective Macedonian, both in our country and elsewhere in the world. For example the Macedonian culture.”

In regard to implementation of the agreement in Macedonia and stance of the President Gjorge Ivanov and the opposition, Zaev said that nothing depends on Ivanov and other politicians, but depends on citizens.

“The citizens will vote on a referendum on the historic agreement with which the state is moving forward. What is up to me and the Government, we will try to fully and thoroughly explain the citizens about the benefits of the agreement with Greece and remove all prejudices by which irresponsible politicians, driven by personal interests, are misguide the public. I am an incurable optimist as you know and I believe that the referendum will succeed, which will mean success for every citizen of Macedonia. But, however, we, as a government, will clearly explain our position before the referendum. Whether other political parties will have the arguments and courage to do the same, will see. But everyone should respect the vote of the citizens, both President Ivanov and the opposition, and we as a government,” Zaev said.

He said that they will fulfill their political duty as a government that has won the trust of citizens, to implement the will of the citizens. If this implies that we will have to initiate, as a parliamentary majority, the impeachment of President Ivanov, and we will do this through constitutional and legal procedures.

Regarding the Russia’s position despite their “warning” that by admission to NATO, the security of the region is threatened, Zaev said that the Russian Federation is a great friend to the Republic of Macedonia.

“Economic, cultural cooperation, in the field of agriculture is at the high-level, and we expect to further develop. Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic future will not break this cooperation, on the contrary Russia will get in Macedonia a stronger, more stable partner in the fields in which the citizens of both countries share the interests. I am convinced that there must be awareness that world peace is a global interest, and that requires stable and safe states that are developing along the path they have chosen. Over 75 percent of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia are favoring membership of our state in the EU and NATO, that is our right and we should respect each other and support each other. It is a democracy,” Zaev said.

Zaev in regard to the stability of the region said that governments of Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria are ready to be generators of development of entire region on economic plan and in realization of the Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

“We have given an example that if there is a political will, there is a solution for every open issue. I believe that the agreements between Macedonia and Greece and Macedonia and Bulgaria will be a strong motivation for closing other bilateral issues in the region. A stable Balkans means a stable Europe and a stable world. This is already clear to the international community as well and I strongly believe that EU member states will find the strength to back Macedonia and to get a date for starting accession negotiations in a few days, and then to get an invitation to become the next 30th NATO member state,” Zaev underlined.

In regard to the relations with Serbia, Zaev said that Macedonia and Serbia are neighbours, but firstly friends that share century-old history, tradition, culture, past and today we are connected with common European future.

“We can promote cooperation in every field and it will only involve further new cooperation and development of relations. We need to establish a mutually acceptable period of time for holding of the intergovernmental session. Citizens of both countries are strongly and emotionally connected, they respected each other, and we also have an obligation as political leaders to provide the citizens economic development and European perspectives. We will also achieve this with the Republic of Serbia in the interest of our citizens and states,” Zaev said.

Zaev in the interview also referred to the reforms in the judiciary and economy, and in response to the opposition’s demands for early elections, he said “I consider that it is better for each government to complete its full mandate entrusted from the citizens, to show results, and then to organise elections. Also, it is not good for economic cycles to have an early election, it violates the plans of businesses and citizens. Certainly, the issue of early elections depends not only on me, but on the general political environment and the behavior of all political parties, and in that direction, we will act in accordance with the highest and real needs of the citizens and the state,” Zaev said.

Zaev ended the interview with the following message to Serbia “Citizens of the Republic of Serbia let us build new bridges, maintain the old ones, through which our cooperation will go easier and faster and by them we lay new foundations that will enable us from the common past to move towards common, bright, promising future.”