MP of the party in power BDI (Democratic Union for Integration) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ermira Mehmeti gives an exclusive interview for IBNA. The head of the Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs, talks about the recent developments in FYROM, in particular about the eavesdropping scandal, the need to reestablish dialogue, the gridlock in the Euro Atlantic integration process and issues that relate to the position of Albanians. This is what Ermira Mehmeti, one of the young generation of politicians in Skopje, underlines.
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
IBNA: In the country, we have tense political developments in relation to the so called “Putsch” affair, which is being accompanied with clashes between majority and Macedonian opposition. The party that you represent has issued a reaction on this situation. How do you assess these developments?
Ermira Mehmeti: My first impression is that what’s happening in Macedonia comes as a direct result of the general exhaustion of the political class and the citizens from the long status-quo of the country in relation to the fulfillment of our Euro-Atlantic aspiration. As representative of a new generation of politicians, but also as the chairwoman of the parliamentary committee for European affairs, I have constantly said that the delays in the integrating process cannot produce any positive effect in our political system, in our institutions and in the behavior of the political class, in the context of the majority and opposition. In circumstances when the Macedonian opposition has been absent in parliamentary proceedings for two years now and when the largest Macedonian party doesn’t seem ready to make any concessions in order to repair this conflicting relation, the public opinion may expect everything from respective political camps, including publication of different videos that indicate a paranoid and non democratic logic which is still present in our society. I think that it’s horrible for someone to register a conversation and then publish that conversation. I believe that neither side has the moral right to do what they’re doing. I distance myself from this kind of approach and I criticize it, regardless of who eavesdrops and who publishes.
IBNA: Do you think this is the last chance for true dialogue to rule in the country and for this situation to be overcome?
Ermira Mehmeti: I’m upset about the fact that ahead of the visit of the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Mr. Hahn, we, as a country, have nothing new to offer in relation to the agenda of reforms and the obligations stemming from the High Level Dialogue. Unfortunately, right when we all had hoped that the majority and opposition would sit down and talk about their differences and return to dialogue, the eavesdropping scandal emerged. Now, I have no idea as to how we can get back on the tracks of political rationality and how we can establish dialogue once again. I’m afraid that we have exceeded all deadlines and we’re very late!
IBNA: What are your main topics or priorities as a political party in order for the country to move in the right direction?
Ermira Mehmeti: I believe that we’re in a phase from which we can get out through a fresh political positioning. The government must reflect in relation to the latest developments, in relation to the Macedonian opposition and in particular with the relations within the coalition. The eavesdropping affair is not something unprecedented, but the publication of conversations threatens privacy and for us, it’s important to find a method as to how we can govern through partnership. I would have wanted to see an effort by the largest political party to engage for a redefinition of the concept of partnership in governing with us. For a political party which has so much power and so much institutional control, this is not a concession or a painful concession. On the contrary, it would demonstrate its readiness to make steps forward in the right direction toward ethnic cohesion and general well-being.
IBNA: The solution of the name dispute is a problem which has blocked the country in the aspect of Euro integration. What would be an acceptable solution to avoid this barrier and what are the hopes for progress in this aspect after the creation of the new government in Athens?
Ermira Mehmeti: In fact, there’s a whole new political class in power in Greece. Tsipras’ government came in power with ambitious promises to change the difficult situation that the Greek people had been living for several years. These promises were mainly economic and financial. As far as the name dispute is concerned, I believe that we are yet to see an incentive or a proposal by the new government, in relation to how they perceive the solution of the bilateral contest. For the moment, there is no incentive and I’m hoping to see some new movements ahead. The status-quo is not a sustainable situation. It produces frustration and a closed circuit of regressive actions in our country.
IBNA: In many occasions, Albanians express their discontent about the fact that their rights are not respected. They claim that the Ohrid Agreement which is a guarantee for their rights, has not been implemented.
Ermira Mehmeti: I believe that Ohrid Agreement has laid the foundation for a crucial change in our political system and has turned Macedonia from a country where one ethnic group used to dominate, into a multi-ethnic state, equal for all ethnic groups. There are many examples as to how Macedonia has changed after 2001 and I wouldn’t want to mention them here. At the same time, besides the fact that rights of Albanians have been respected, there’s a growing resistance on the Macedonian ethnic camp and this is producing discontent among Albanians. But, the changes that came after the 2001 conflict represent an unstoppable process for our country. Things cannot get worse than they were. The process may be currently slowed down, but it cannot stop for as long as USA, EU and NATO guarantee the Ohrid Agreement and for as long as every Progress Report on Macedonia pays special attention to the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. /ibna/