SDSM official Dimitar Kovacevski, who is running to take over the party after Zoran Zaev’s resignation, heaped praise on Zaev in his first major interview, with the state owned MIA agency.

President Zoran Zaev achieved extraordinary results in his term. Thanks to his policies of openness and bravery in resolving the most difficult problems, we are now a secure and stable state, a NATO member and a step away from opening EU accession talks. I’m not anybody’s man, I’m a man with integrity and a great professional experience that is appropriate to assume the position of SDSM leader, Kovacevski when asked about the way in which Zaev is pushing his nomination, which led to criticism that he will be Zaev’s handpicked successor.

He called the divided factions in the party, which deserted Zaev over the past year, to return to the fold, and insisted that the major defeat during the local elections was due mainly to this internal strife. “SDSM must improve its communication with the party members, we can’t just call on them when the party needs them, but they must be included at all times. I believe we can restore the trust of the voters at the very next elections, but only if the citizens and party members see the necessary change in SDSM”, Kovacevski told MIA.

Zaev clashed with the previously established Crvenkovski wing of the party and had an uneasy relationship with the entire Skopje based wing of party officials. His defeat was most pronounced in the capital, and spread from there to other cities in the second round of the elections.

Kovacevski announced that, if he takes over the party, he will prepare a new Government with a “good team of professionals who will tackle the energy crisis, the economic policies and above all the Euro-integrations”.