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Resolution doesn’t lie in simply changing Parliament majority, FM Poposki tells MIA

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A resolution to the political situation facing Macedonia definitively doesn’t lie in merely changing the majority in the Parliament of Macedonia. A lot of rules and principles have been breached along the way, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Poposki says in an interview with MIA.

According to him, a resolution must aim at defining rules of the game, safeguarding of what is considered by the majority of citizens a vital national interest and checking the direction taken as soon as possible by holding elections.

“Local elections are the first direct test of this direction. If we were all confident in our own policies, perhaps there would be an opportunity for a parliamentary test,” says Poposki.

In the interview, the Macedonian Foreign Minister refers not only to the current political situation, but also to the country’s relations with Greece and to recent developments in the region.

What are the main messages that you have been receiving in meetings with foreign politicians?

We don’t get the same messages from every politician. But, primarily there is a concern regarding regional instability and risks from dragging Macedonia into. The first one, it doesn’t depend on us, and the second, we can act so as to prevent this from happening.

Not taking into accounts media reports and citations from ‘sources close to this or to that government’, what is Macedonia’s international reputation at the moment?

It cannot be ideal in times when the country is gripped by a protracted political crisis. Perhaps in the region, it is considered some kind of standard, but we need to take care of what is happening in our courtyard. While creating an excellent reputation of having a business climate, our image has been suffering due to the crisis.

What is your response to the question of the Serbian Foreign Minister, Ivica Dacic, who in a TV interview had asked whether our Parliament is the Parliament of Macedonia or a joint Macedonian and Albanian Parliament?

I haven’t heard the question, but since it is rhetorical, I’m sure he knows the right answer.

What did you discuss with the Greek Foreign Affairs Minister at the latest meeting in Malta?

We talked about the confidence building measures. We agreed that there are improvements in the climate between the two countries, despite the clear differences we have on key issues.

There was a meeting in Solun (Thessaloniki) last year between the foreign ministers of Macedonia, Greece, Albania and Bulgaria. Did you discuss with Foreign Minister Kotzias holding another such meeting, given that you then agreed to turn these events into a regular practice. Do you believe the time is right for such a meeting, considering the provocative rhetoric from some leaders in the region?

I think we should continue having them as long as the messages are the same as they were at the first meeting. The citizens, the businesses in the region, they need a more relaxed atmosphere and not provocations and tensions.

Greek politicians and the media continue to call for respect of the principles of independence and territorial integrity for the Western Balkan countries. Are the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unitary character of Macedonia under threat? Overall, is there danger of redrawing the Balkan borders?

There certainly are politicians who wish for or flirt with such outcomes. But, that is certainly not the most desired option and is not supported in the public. We are clear in the position that changing the borders will not bring solutions to the real life problems the people face. Integration in the European Union is the more humane, cheaper, far-sighted option. It was not coincidence that it was chosen by the most advanced European countries after the bloodiest conflict on their territory.

What do you believe is the way out of the political situation Macedonia is in?

The way out certainly is not in simply changing the majority in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia. Many rules and principles were violated along the way. The solution needs to be in defining the rules of the game, protecting what the majority of the citizens believe to be the vital national interests, and verifying the future direction at elections as soon as possible. The municipal elections are the first certain test of the direction we are on. If all parties are certain that their policies are correct, then perhaps it will be an opportunity for a general election test as well.

Where do you see Macedonia in a year’s time?

We will likely have at least one election cycle behind us. Perhaps the political climate will be healthier. I sincerely hope that we will learn the lesson that disruption of the national interests comes with a political price for the side which is doing it.

Considering that you are a member of the VMRO-DPMNE Executive Committee, can you tell us what are the next steps of the party.

– That is up to the institutions of the party to decide.