In his interview for Balkaneu, leader of the Liberal Party in FYROM, Ivon Velichkovski talks about the current crisis and developments, role of the president of the country, George Ivanov and the alternative that this party offers in order to overcome the political crisis
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
IBNA: How do you consider the political crisis which is yet to receive a solution?
Due to the deep political crisis, it is difficult, but still solvable. Now we are at “the end of its beginning”. It seems that the rest of the phases will be more dynamic and each next phase will last less than the previous one. The fundaments of the crisis can be traced in the obsession of the “big four” parties (VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM, DUI and DPA), to install partisan systems stronger than the system of the state’s institutionsin the last 20 years, merging the party with the state, especially in the last decade. It is garnished with the partisan (ab)use of the secret services, so it is needless to say that the services are both a starting point and a focus of each crisis so far, including this one. Consequently, the closure requires thorough, as prudent and as prompt solutions as possible, so it will take more than just few months to reach sustainable resolution of the crisis and longer-term stability in the state. This makes all attempts for swift early elections doomed to fail. And, “optimistically” put, if resolved soon, the crisis will be contained in our borders.
IBNA: President Ivanov granted amnesty for incriminated politicians and individuals and then he abolished it. This decision aggravated the situation even more. Do you think that he must be held politically accountable and resign, as it was demanded in the latest protests?
Ivanov was never the candidate to be (re)elected, at least for the Liberal Party. But, apart from Ivanov, two more issues are to be addressed vis-à-vis the institution President of the Republic. First, it is the poor experience with the cohabitation of the directly elected presidents with the political governments opposite to their political background. Second, it is the permanent lack of broader identification of the citizens and of all ethnic communities with the (actions of the) President. This is the reason why the Liberal Party stands for election of the President of the Republic in the Assembly, for over a decade now. Macedonia needs systematic instruments that stimulate political and ethnic consensus over a President that encourages national coherence and political prudence, rather than being just a person that fills-up the premises of the residence, as Ivanov does for seven years.
IBNA: Are the EU and USA’s efforts offering a solution for the crisis?
Macedonia’s (in)stability affects its neighbors and then the rest of the region (and the continent). Having in mind how challenging the world is nowadays, the EU – US efforts are understandable. Their engagement laid the path to prevention of “underground” bargaining of the “big four” parties, as well as of these parties’ attempts to resolve internal party problems through the crisis. The “Priebe” Report, the guideline for a thorough consolidation and capacitating of the institutions, is also an illustration: if the four parties were capable of identifying the problems, they would have at least attempted to resolve them. It is frustrating to see that the foreign representatives proved more responsible towards the citizens than the Macedonian “leaders”. The role of EU and USA was and is expected to be productive as long asnot only the “big four”, but all legitimate parties and the civic society are included in the resolution of the crisis. It also means that the approach “stability over democracy” is to make place for an approach “no democracy, no stability”. Otherwise we will soon see failed tests of resilience to autocracy and corruption not only in Macedonia, but in the (South)Eastern democracies in Europe.
IBNA: How do you see the way out of this situation?
In October 2014, the Liberal Party initiated the establishment of a Concentration Government, as a concept of a transitional government of adequate cadres and experts with an as broad as possible majority, practically transforming the present Parliament into a transitional one. The concept excludes Gruevski and his compromised “camarilla”. Only such a Government can capacitate the institutions and separate the party from the state, pacify the inter-party and the intra-ethnic relations and enable free and credible elections before 2018. At the same time, it prevents a takeover of power without elections. Since the “technical government” of the “big four” proved to be no longer an option, the approach we offer becomes even more feasible. Perhaps you have noted that I avoid auctioning with election dates since it will only cause dead-locks and delays that Gruevski enjoys. We do not support prompt elections (in 2016) since they might save few careers for a while, but will deepen the crisis and will transform it (at least) into a matter of regional security. This is something Zaev surely knows, so he should not repeat such “election date offers” at this stage.
IBNA: Is the country veering off the Euro Atlantic integration path and is the discontent of the citizens growing?
The situation affects all Macedonian citizens. The economy cannot remain resilient to the political situation, and this will visibly affect the public finances pretty soon. Mildly put – the political crisis tests the Macedonian economic and the financial system to the maximum. With the Macedonian NATO and EU integrations bogged-down, the citizens and the responsible politicians sense the inevitable implosion in all spheres and levels of the society, economy, politics… if action is not taken soon. There are two possibilities in Macedonia: Either the society will reconcile and unify against the political corruption or the big “four” will “reconcile” and continue in the same style. The society in general chooses the first option. The second will bring the sustainability of the state at stake. Macedonia is far more than just four party presidents./balkaneu.com/