In the second part of Republika’s mega interview with VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski, he refers to meeting with Soros, and what it was discussed, VMRO-DPMNE being labeled as nationalist party, the opposition’s motion for cantonal division, as well as many other interesting topics. (You can read the first part of the interview here)
Is Soros acting against you or in favor of the opposition?
I think both. And I think he is not aware of the latter. He is not aware that this people in 2006 had fallen to its knees with almost 39 percent unemployment rate, the highest in Europe at the time, and 32 percent poverty rate, ranked 105th on Transparency International. Precisely those he is fighting against, and that’s us VMRO, despite all the crises and difficulties, have reduced unemployment to about 23 percent, poverty rate to around 21 percent, and in terms of corruption index we jumped from 105th to 66th place. Pensions have increased by over 70 percent, and the lowest by more than 90 percent, social assistance also increased by more than 70 percent, we have probably some of the most watched media per capita in Europe. The courts are not elected by parliamentary majority as it was during SDSM’s term, but there is a much more complex system in which the influence of the executive branch is largely divided, especially after recent legislative changes that entered into force 2-3 years ago. Macedonia, according to the official ranking of the World Bank, is fifth in Europe and tenth in the world in terms of doing business. As a country, we stand worst at indices financed by Soros, like “Reporters Without Borders”, “Freedom House” and the like. “Business Insider” listed us as a country with the lowest effective tax rate worldwide of 7.4 percent. And IBM named as a country with the largest foreign investment per capita in Europe in the last two years. We implemented more reforms in all areas that any government so far, and that’s why we get support from the people.
No one has told this things to him, and if somebody does tell him, again he will trust those close to him, who, obviously, tell him only bad and false information about us, so they could get money from him for the fight against us.
The result of Soros’ money in Macedonia is radicalizing, antagonizing and polarizing of the relations to the level of conflict in Macedonia. From throwing stones at hundreds of police officers, attacks with concrete tiles and iron rods to destroying government buildings, the parliament’s building, ministries, municipalities, monuments, state buildings and police stations. Radicalization through blocking traffic in the city, to chasing foreign investors and completely paralyzing the country.
A few years ago you met with Soros in Prague. What did you talk about?
The meeting was brief of about 15-20 minutes and it was within the frames of conference for the Decade of Roma, an area in which Soros is also active and funds multiple projects in various countries. All present prime ministers and heads of delegations had a brief meeting with him and his team, where the main topic was government activities to help the Roma, a field in which we are among the most successful in comparison with other countries of Eastern Europe, although we have a lot more work ahead.
At the end of the meeting he asked about the process of finding a solution to the name issue, indicated that it should be solved as soon as possible and pointed out that Papandreou’s term as Prime Minister would end soon and then it would more difficult to solve it, something we knew, but unfortunately, on key aspects of the problem, Papandreou kept the well-known red lines of Greece that in Macedonia are unacceptable. He also said a few other details of this process, from which I noticed he was well acquainted. We talked about nothing else, there was neither time, nor readiness for further discussions.
Soros is a harsh critic of nationalist governments. You are considered as such since the beginning …
The image of us being nationalists is distorted and untrue. Under the word nationalists they want to present us as chauvinists, people who they love their nation, but want to damage others or hate others, not regarding the members of the other nations as people and human beings, but only as part of an ethnic community or country. Nationalism, traditionally, is considered as being devoted to one’s country, and lately, in some circles, as a negative connotation. Chauvinism is hating the others. So, Soros and others are unjustly putting on labels of chauvinism to multiethnic governments and parties or countries where there is coexistence and tolerance. VMRO-DPMNE neither was that nor it’s now. That’s not me. Nobody can know better about me than myself. But I have no doubt that those who take money from Soros presented that image of us with incomplete information, disinformation, twisted information, as they do in our public.
Given the fact that here this word is commonly used in terms of inter-ethnic relations, I will also refer to that part. As far as I can remember, the very party that Soros indirectly or directly supports, SDSM, in the 90s physically beat Albanians in Gostivar for placing Albanian flag outside the municipality building and put in jail the politicians that did that. And, as far as I know, VMRO-DPMNE released those political prisoners and passed a Law on use of flags of ethnic communities, thus allowing their legal use. As far as I know, SDSM in the 90s physically beat Albanians when they established a university in Tetovo, and legalized it in 2002 when they needed their help to come into power. VMRO-DPMNE supported the first university in Albanian language- the SEE University and continues to support it through funds from the budget.
Moreover, we supported the establishment of another new university in Skopje, Mother Teresa University, where the classes will be organized in both Macedonian and Albanian language. We were against the State University in Tetovo in 2004 because it was opened without paying attention to the necessary level of quality, and I don’t think anybody disputes the lack of quality at this institution today. It is in the interest of Albanians to have a higher quality institution, and it is also in the interest of ethnic Macedonians that our ethnic Albanian fellow citizens are more competitive so that we can fight with ideas and not over primitive issues… Where is here the image of nationalism and chauvinism that they want to build for us and why would Soros conclude that we are such. There is no real basis for any of this.
You talk about government projects to support inter-ethnic relations, about the Law on use of flags of ethnic communities that allowed their legal use and about the support to Albanians in education. But your image is beset with the same burden – you are regarded as nationalist, against Soros’ efforts in that direction…
As far as I know, the Law on use of languages was passed during VMRO-DPMNE’s term, not during SDSM’s, and we jointly voted over the constitutional amendments in this regard in 2002. And we did nothing to prevent their implementation. So, those who beat and jailed for a placed flag and opening of a university are not nationalists, and those who released the political prisoners with special amnesty law, which passed the Law on use of flags, which opened universities that teach in Albanian language, and are still fighting for their quality, and passed the Law on use of languages and did nothing to prevented their implementation are nationalists. Could it be because the media funded by Soros tell that to the Albanians everyday?
Were we nationalists when we adopted the Law on administration two years ago with precise provisions for equal representation of ethnic communities in each institution of the State Administration and to design a software with meticulously crafted formula.
Was I nationalist when late at night in August 2015 I was the first of all politicians in the country to arrive in Shipkovica, in Mala and Golema Rechica to help the people, to save the survivors, to search for the missing, to help with the hit houses, to bring the whole state machinery, to include the military, to bring huge rescue teams, when I woke up all directors and ministers by phone, demanding to immediately join in the action. Does a nationalist, who hates someone or wants to harm someone, do that? Similar was the case last year with the floods in Gazi Baba, we helped the Albanian villages and households same as the Macedonian… As I fight for the Macedonians when in trouble, so I fight for the Albanians. I have never divided them. Everything else is propaganda. False and dirty political propaganda of incompetent people.
It is often mentioned that there are different standards in the investment budget. Is it so?
That’s not true. We invest everywhere and we pay attention that it is ethnically balanced. Why am I not a nationalist when I suggest or support the construction of roads, water and sewage networks, water treatment plants in places inhabited by Albanians, or why was I not a nationalist when Albanians in Macedonia, like the others saw support through subsidies, visible increase in pensions and social assistance, job creation by companies like “Lear” in Tetovo, or the many in Skopje, “ODW Elektrik” and “Kostal” in Struga-Ohrid region, or “Key Safety Systems” in Kicevo, which open many jobs and prospects for all, including the Albanians. Does anyone remember SDSM, either for the Albanians, or the Macedonians, attracting and opening new factories that will employ one thousand, two or three thousand people? You do not remember because there is no such thing. Or SDSM giving subsidies to farmers, or higher pensions to pensioners. Well, why the “nationalists” do that and not SDSM? Let’s see who is a nationalist when we look at all these facts and arguments.