In an exclusive interview for IBNA, PM Zoran Zaev’s advisor for cross ethnic relations, Mersel Bilalli says that the country is heading in the right direction and that the international community has praised the government’s will for changes and reforms and the readiness for the solution of the name dispute with Greece. According to him, the government is advancing with an admirable pace, but incriminated circles belonging to the previous government, still exert their influence on institutions and the justice system. Bilalli is a university professor and a politician with a long career since the country gained independence
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
The country finally obtained a positive report from the EU. Do you think that this report is more of a symbolic report than an encouraging one, bearing in mind the domestic developments in the country?
Yes, without a doubt. In the past few years, anti-values turned into values. Honest people were considered to be crazy, while theft was considered as a skill. We need many years of collective mental therapy to go back to reality. This won’t be an easy thing to do. What the European Commission has valued mostly is the government’s will for changes and reforms and its readiness to solve the name contest with Greece, rather than the changes taken place in such a short time.
A key element which has an impact on the European integration aspect relates to the solution of the name dispute. How do you consider this process and do you think that there will be compromise?
Authorities here have done what they could in the current circumstances. But, the problem remains with the Greek side, because there doesn’t seem to be any internal consensus on this issue. Let us not forget that Russia has significant influence on current political and government circles in Greece. We should also bear in mind the fact that powerful businesses close to Putin have funded a party which is in the same coalition as SYRIZA. Kamenos, who is a partner in a coalition with the Greek PM, has not concealed this connection. Without him, the Greek government does not have the necessary votes. The positive thing is that the international community praises the engagement of the current government for the solution of the name contest.
What do you think will happen if there is no short term or medium term solution? Does the international community have a plan B?
I don’t think that there is any plan B or C. I just think that we should act in a pragmatic way. I think that the Greek side will not have the necessary strength to prevent accession talks, but I believe that it may insist on some clause in order for there to be a final agreement in a future phase of the negotiating process if this does not happen now. But, as far as NATO’s call is concerned, I think that the situation here is a little more complicated, because a new NATO summit is needed and the Greek consensus is also needed to change the existing decision from the previous summit, which states that Macedonia cannot be accepted as member unless the name dispute is solved.
How do you view the government’s work considering its plan of reforms and the voting of several bills?
The government is advancing with an admirable pace, but incriminated people belonging to the previous government, are still exerting their influence on institutions and justice system. The current mechanisms do not allow for an automatic discharge. We still have judges who cover the abuses of the former government. The international community did not allow for a replacement of all judges and prosecutors to take place. The more time goes by, the more these institutions will lose.