detail - North Macedonia Office
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As a foreigner it is very difficult to assess the rule of law in a foreign country. My experiences with the Macedonian institutions so far, with the issuance of the work permit, and the temporary residence permit for me, were very positive. In my opinion, if I compare this country with the countries where I have been a representative of the Foundation so far, Macedonia is much further from what could be called a dysfunctional state. However, this does not mean that there is no need for strong institutions, improvements and reforms in accordance with the EU recommendations.
Faktor: On one occasion you have said that the fact that the political stakeholders cannot resolve the internal problems alone and they are always demanding help from abroad is strange for you. On the other hand, the EU commissioner Johannes Hahn is advocating for international experts to participate in the verification of the voters’ list in order to avoid any doubts over its reliability. Why do you think there are no results from the international mediations yet?
On several occasions I stated that I truly do not understand why the Macedonian politicians, politicians with good education, cannot solve their own problems by themselves. As a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany, I would be surprised, even mad, if my politicians in the German Bundestag would require international assistance to provide solutions for their own national problems. The EU commissioner Johannes Hahn, as well as all the politicians in the EU, are deeply concerned about the political crisis in Macedonia. His suggestion could be taken into consideration, but in my humble opinion, the State Election Commission, an independent body with representatives from all the political parties, has done a good job, announcing that the electoral roll has been purged, and that all preconditions to hold the elections have been met. The mediator’s task is to mediate not to solve the problems. All the stakeholders participating in the negotiations should solve the problems.
Faktor: Do you have the impression that the “foreigners” for the opposition represent the main factor/pillar for resolution of the crisis? Is it possible for the domestic stakeholders to reach an agreement by themselves when taking in consideration the current division/polarization in the Macedonian society?
As I said, the less “foreigners” are involved, the better it is for the country. This should be the principle of the political dialogue in every polarized society. It is time to change the political culture in direction of reaching compromises. The compromise is the key word for a political development. For me as a foreigner, who is simply observing the matters, it is very difficult to understand the mentality “you are either with me or against me”. Life is not only black or white, there are many colours in it.
Faktor: What should be in the front row, bargaining with new election dates or fulfilling the obligations in the Priebe report? Since SDSM took stand against the conduct of elections first in April and then in June, now the leader Zoran Zaev claims that the elections could be conducted in October or March next year. Which scenario is viable according to you?
For me dates do not matter very much. What matters is that all parties reach a compromise in relation to all issues, and announce together that fair election can be held. The Priebe report and the Przino agreement could serve as useful tools towards fulfilling the necessary standards.
Faktor: How would you evaluate the President’s Gjorgje Ivanov decision to pardon 56 persons at first and then to withdraw the decision only partially? Would you say that this decision will relax the internal state of affairs or it will further deepen the political agony?
I think that the President Ivanov acted with strong faith in order to solve the political crisis. However, from legal perspective, his decision might have been reaching the limits of its legal sustainability. I truly hope that this would not undermine the credibility of the President as institution.
Faktor: Do you think that the political elites cannot or do not want to see the infiltration of criminal in all spheres of society?
Corruption, nepotism, cronyism are the subject of debates in each society. It is essential for the people, the citizens to be able to see the possible infiltrations in the society, and punish it by applying their right to vote or not to vote, as well as taking actions as more committed citizens for the betterment of the society.
Faktor: How much and in what way the political crisis is affecting/bringing into question the European perspectives of Macedonia?
We have to be honest with the Macedonian citizens. The EU is going through crisis itself, and its institutions require reforms. This means that even if Macedonia fulfills all the conditions for the start of the accession negotiations, it will be difficult for the EU, for the EU politicians, to explain to their own citizens, who are fatigued by the enlargement, why it is necessary to enlarge the Union further.
Faktor: The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation has very close relations with VMRO DPMNE; many MPs and mayors have completed their political and academic trainings via this foundation. Do you feel disappointed/let down by the results and the behavior by some of the party members with high state and political functions?
As a political foundation from Germany, financed by various ministries, our primary goal is the political education of the citizens. This does not exclude the dialogue with the parties affiliated to us. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is affiliated with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the European People’s Party (EPP), which member is VMRO-DPMNE. Only 20% from our total budget is allocated for educational programmes on a party level. In our scholarship network of over 100 students only 26 are active party members. The social engagement is more important to us than the party affiliation.
Politics imply a dialogue. Without a dialogue there is no improvement of the situation. As a foundation we do not need to excuse our self for the dialogue with the political elite. Please do not take it personally, but in general, I would never point my moral finger at anyone.
Faktor: Do you think that the German model of party cohabitation in forming a government with both Social Democrats and Demo Christians is applicable in Macedonia?
In general, copying models is not a good practice. Each society should find its own way. The most ideal solution is a model that corresponds with the citizens’ needs and takes into consideration the mentality, the historical background of the region and the experiences.
Faktor: Do you find interesting the phenomenon with the suspicions regarding bribery and monopoly positions at Telekom? There are ongoing investigative proceedings in USA and Germany, but not in the Macedonia where those bribing transactions occurred, the local authorities are silent about this.
It is a very specific question to which I could not provide an answer. No matter what economic system you live in, the monopolies are a problem for each society.
Link to the original article on Faktor.mk: http://faktor.mk/2016/06/10/ekskluzivno-intervju-johanes-rai-zhivotot-ne-e-tsrno-bel-ostavete-prostor-za-shareniloto/