IBNA’s exclusive interview with Stevo Pendarovski, presidential nominee of the Social Democratic Macedonian League (LSDM) and other Macedonian opposition parties. The issue of the name dispute with Greece, Pendarovski: “I see the solution to the contest imposed by Greeks consisting on reaching a wide stately and social consensus. Once we have an acceptable solution or proposal, we must offer it through the referendum, where the citizens will have their say. Of course I will not allow a solution which damages the identity, independence and cultural development of the Macedonian people”
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
IBNA: Why did you decide to leave university auditoriums and be the opposition candidate?
Pendarovski: This is the truth: Up until a few moments before presidential nominations within the largest opposition party LSDM closed,there had never been any discussions about the candidacy with me and I was not offered to become a candidate. But, following the support and offer that came from LSDM, I decided to accept the nomination.
IBNA: If we look back, your name has also been mentioned in previous elections…
Pendarovski: Yes, I’m convinced that now is the time for me to be politically engaged after many years and to offer my concrete political contribution in order to change the anti-European path of the country.
IBNA: What is your offer for the citizens of the country?
Pendarovski: I believe that the citizens deserve an ally and advocate and they find this in president. This is the concept that I offer as a president. The improvement of democratic processes in the country, the strengthening of the economy, are the main priorities, but also the removal of the extreme party spirit which rules in all state institutions. I demand the support of all the citizens on April 13 and April 27, regardless of their ethnicity and political affiliation.
IBNA: You said that your main plans are focused on the domestic aspect. What about regional policies, relations with neighbors and Euro Atlantic integrations?
Pendarovski: We need regional cooperation and support by the international community to strengthen our position as an ally. We’re a small country, without particular strategic priorities in the European continent, but we need support by friendly and neighboring countries to move forward.
IBNA: Name dispute with Greece is a very sensitive issue…
Pendarovski: My stance on this is clear and determined. I see the solution to the contest imposed by Greeks consisting on reaching a wide stately and social consensus. Once we have an acceptable solution or proposal, we must offer it through the referendum, where the citizens will have their say. Of course I will not allow a solution which damages the identity, independence and cultural development of the Macedonian people.
IBNA: Another aspect relates to cross ethnic relations. What’s your recipe for sustainable cross ethnic relations?
Pendarovski: The president must respect the legal and constitutional framework as far as cross ethnic relations are concerned. The president must show on a daily basis that he doesn’t divide his citizens on ethnic or religious basis. I think that it’s unreasonable that after many years since the Ohrid Agreement, we’re still saying that good cross ethnic relations are the key to the stability of the country.
IBNA: You mention the Ohrid Agreement, but this agreement has not been implemented even after so many years since the 2001 conflict…
Pendarovski: The Ohrid Agreement has been marginalized by the current structures which are in power. This agreement has only been implemented in one dimension, on employments based on ethnicity. Nevertheless, the Ohrid Agreement must be more than this. It’s a political platform based on which legitimate political leaders must solve common problems in the country. This agreement must be the basis for the cultivation of cohabitation, because I’m convinced that not all its potentials have been exploited.
IBNA: There are rumors according to which you ask for the vote of Albanians and also that you have communicated with Albanian parties in order to win votes in the April 27 presidential run-off. What’s the truth?
Pendarovski: I have clarified this issue and I reiterate that I ask to be voted as president by the citizens and not the parties. Personally, I haven’t had any talks with any Albanian political party and I don’t plan on holding such talks.
Who is Pendarovski?
LSDM presidential nominee, Stevo Pendarovski was born on April 3, 1963 in Skopje. He was graduated in law by “The First Justinian” university.
He has completed the magistrature and his PHD in Skopje. Pendarovski’s career started as a lawyer. Later, he was employed in the Department for Analysis and Research at the Ministry of Interior. During 2001, he has worked as spokesman of the Ministry of Interior. Pendarovski has also been an adviser in the cabinets of several presidents of the country. Currently he works at the American College in Skopje and is head of the Committee for Security and Integration in the NATO at LSDM.