Elections will take place soon, how confident are you in winning and what do you base your estimates on?
Mickoski: I am sure we will win with together with the people and our opponents know that, and I base it on the faith in the people and the fact that one can no longer function in such abnormal conditions in the country. In these past 29 years of independence, politicians have often said that they are following the people, but hardly anyone has listened them and really paid attention to what they need. Citizens really feel neglected in their own country, and unlike the ruling caste and the privileges it enjoys, the impression is that everyone else is second-class citizens.
VMRO-DPMNE will win because it must end the injustices, the unpunished crime, the Zaev hybrid regime that is oppressing society. Turn a new leaf, a new beginning that will bring a developed economy, new jobs, returning the people who are leaving, become truly competitive and advanced in every way and what I know how to say a technological tiger in the Balkans. Instead for the racketeering, to be recognized for innovation. Finally, a government to address environmental issues, wait and complete the gasification promised for 30 years.
All this must be done, and the first step is to defeat those who bring defeats and deceptions, to remove Zaev from politics.
That the state is losing with Zaev and that he is the main culprit for the collective calamity we are facing, is also shown by relevant reports. The Economist has said that we are a hybrid regime or a step away from what is called an authoritarian regime, and what else would it be wehn the country’s top government officials are involved in organized racketeering, when criminals are at large and patriots in prisons. Transparency says we are the most corrupt country in Europe, at the level of the African states.
Earlier there was also a report that we have the lowest wages in Europe, and we are also among the top ten countries with the highest youth unemployment. All this must be defeated, the Zaevs that function under the same matrix must be defeated, be it Sekerinska, Kosta Petrov, Lukareska, Nina Angelovska or Carovska, behind which are the distorted values of Zaev that all the Social Democrats are ashamed of. And I believe that the people will make the right decision and this time they will not support those who have already broken their word many times.
We watched you on the “One on One” show, and we get the impression that Hristijan knows how to laugh and listen to music. Tell us what is your hobby?
Mickoski: Sometimes it’s good to see the other side of politics and what makes politicians more human. The image that most of the politicians in Macedonia are recognized for is really ugly, which I would say is also due to the bad examples of people in politics.
I’m an ordinary person who leads a simple lifestyle like everyone else. And the simple things make me happy and fulfilled. From what little time I have, I look forward to spending it good and most often it is gym training and outdoor hiking. The Vodno mountain is closest, but I used to walk around the other part of Macedonia before, usually it was some organized climb of Korab, Titov Vrv or Pelister. But now it is rare and an exception. But when there is little time Vodno is a sufficient substitute for my love of hiking.
Knowing that your party’s assets are frozen, how will you organize all the rallies and how will you pay the rent for party headquarters throughout the Republic of Macedonia?
Mickoski: Freezing the assets by the corrupt SPO and later blackmailing that came from those circles in they style if you want your assets unfrozen you have to extend SPO’s mandate, is just a way of putting political pressure on VMRO-DPMNE thinking we will succumb in our fight against Zaev. But it turned out that not only did we not succumb, but we also opposed injustice. As regards the method of financing, it is done in accordance with the law and the funds that follow from that law. We try to minimize the spending and rationalize those resources.
We do not have a million euros for expensive campaigns like the SDSM did a month ago, but we have the truth we are constantly talking about and with modest means we are constantly appearing before the citizens. To speak the truth does not require money, it is enough to go and stand before people and to speak frankly and from the heart. I do it, and we will continue to do it.
At the moment, the “Renewal in front of your home” action is underway, and next week I will be with the citizens on the ground, discussing together and coming up with solutions. The final preparations for the program are currently being made. We were on the ground earlier as well, gathering problems, now we are in the process of developing solutions and I can say that all the creative potentials and the best minds and experts in the country and abroad have been mobilized in creating what will be our offer. In order to have a renewal as Macedonia needs, we must have a quality program and of course our word that it will be fulfilled.
Hypothetically, you are the prime minister, you are told that your grandfather (your wife’s father) has been caught speeding and his driving license taken on the spot. How will you react?
Mickoski: I have no dilemmas, it should be handled in accordance with the law. Those who think I’m going to pick up the phone to get something done in a illegal way, let them forget my number, no matter who it is. I would be a hypocrite if I say to you that justice must be achieved, and on some other occasion I am the one who inflicts injustice. Don’t expect that from me.
To ask others to comply with the laws, I must respect them first. I have never in my life picked up the phone to get a job done like that, nor will I. In the specific hypothetical case you mentioned, the advice would be to pay the penalty and confess guilt.
Many citizens of Macedonia have moved to another countries around the world, and migration continues today, have you prepared measures for this problem in case you come to power?
Mickoski: One of the key problems facing the country is the migration or I call it the white exodus that is happening to Macedonia. And I can say that as a faculty professor my heart breaks when I see so many good staff leaving our country, in which we as professors have invested so much in training and getting them on the right track. But on the other hand, neither I nor anyone else has the right to condemn them for their choice to leave the country, because their are sought after by foreign markets, and simply the state does not do enough to keep them in their native homes.
There is almost no family in the country from which there is not one displaced member around the world. I will remind you that it was this government that said it would stop the migration, and of course you remember that placing of shoes in front of the government as a synonym for the displaced. In other words, SDSM talked about the migration until it moved into the government building and immediately afterwards forgot about this phenomenon. In addition, migration not only stopped but also increased.
Certain data indicate that over 200,000 citizens have been displaced in three years, that is, thousands of families who have closed homes and birthplaces throughout Macedonia. In addition, let’s not say that there are still some frustratingly bad birth rates in the country, which suggests that not only are we losing Macedonia as a state, but the number of people is decreasing. That is why we will come up with a special strategy in this election that will include the fight against migration. We have to keep people here in our hometowns, but also create conditions here for all those who have plans to leave or work abroad temporarily, to return and start building a future in Macedonia. And that includes not just a set of measures in the economy, but also a complete renewal of education, healthcare, ecology, the legal system, the security that citizens need. We must bring our children back to this country and pave a safe path together.
Where does Hristijan Mickoski come from?
Mickoski: I was born and raised in Skopje, in Karpos. My father is originally from Kicevo, as a student he moved to Skopje and worked for many years at MZT, after which he got a job at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. My mother is originally from Novo Selo, Strumica, and as a primary school student she moved with their parents to the Skopje neighborhood of Cento.
How accurate are the rumors that as VMRO-DPMNE you could but did not prevent the constitutional name being changed, could you explain it in a few sentences?
Mickoski: It is a completely false and inaccurate thesis put forward by government circles in order to divide the right wing. VMRO-DPMNE has been and remains the bulwark of Macedonia’s national and state interests. The culprit for changing the name and identity has a name and a surname and it is Zoran Zaev and his servants who for a little privilege and a few winks for personal interest decided to allow him to do what is a historical mistake and a present reality that we cannot ignore but with which we will not reconcile and we will be fighting to change it. All the time, we are clearly saying that there is no force that will make us say that we are anything other than true Macedonians from Macedonia.
If you become prime minister, will you live in the prime minister’s villa or in your current home?
Mickoski: I do not do this for material goods, but for history, for my people and Macedonia. I do not pay attention to the material. I feel most comfortable at home with my family and will continue to do so. My co-workers convince me that on such an occasion security should also be taken into account, but I feel that one should stay grounded and in touch with the people. I do not plan to move to another facility. I feel most comfortable at home.
You have been criticizing Zaev all the time, but you have not been mentioning DUI and Ali Ahmeti, even though the public knows that this party is also part of the corruption problem and what would you comment on the law on public prosecution?
Mickoski: I am for absolute justice, regardless of whether it is a member of SDSM, DUI or VMRO-DPMNE. I have repeated several times, I have no concessions in politics to anyone, and I don’t owe anything to anyone. Hence I feel comfortable in the fight against crime and corruption. And here I will have no regard for who they are. But our opponents do not have such an approach.
I am attentively following the debate on the law on public prosecution and I can say that there is indeed a panic in the government from an independent prosecution. I hear the Minister of Justice Deskoska say that VMRO-DPMNE had only one request to stop the court proceedings against us. I can only say Deskoska got infected by Zaev’s virus for lying. I held an extensive press conference that lasted for almost an hour where I explained some of the reasons why we do not support a law on public prosecution as Zaev wants and why that law is unconstitutional. Simply put, we do not support a law with which Zaev again wants to be amnestied from responsibility by establishing a controlled prosecution through which the criminals of his hybrid regime should go by unpunished. They won’t be seeing that movie. If SDSM really is for a legal solution let them accept our remarks and immediately pass the law.
How many ministers will your government have, more or less than Zaev’s?
Mickoski: I can tell you that there will surely be a smaller number than now. At the moment we have ministers whose names a third of the people do not know because they do nothing. We have ministers and prime minister’s advisers paid by the people, who have not brought a single foreign investment. We have ministers who deal with populism behind the only thing the government is capable of doing – crime. We have ministers we know for making muffins, but for about making projects. That’s the sad reality. Here’s an illustration, now a few days ago the government boasted with a possible new highway to Blace after three years ago not a meter of road was paved. But what is symptomatic is the amount by which they will build it. So for example they announced that before the election they would build a full 2km highway of 12.5km total length that would cost 120m euros, or 9.6m euros per km highway.
By comparison, the construction of one of the most difficult highways on the most complicated terrains started during VMRO-DPMNE’s term, Ohrid-Kicevo is worth 370m euros and will be 56km long, or the investment is 6.6m euros per kilometer. The question is why a highway on a relatively lighter construction site such as the one for Blace is worth more, or 9.6 million euros compared to the one for Ohrid worth 6.6 million euros. The answer is because someone close to the government has to cash in money in their pocket for the job. Citizens pay inefficient ministries that do not solve problems.
The Macedonian Diaspora is left to itself, do you have a plan what to do with these people with great human potential?
Mickoski: I have constant communication with the Macedonian Diaspora which for the past three years has been completely unjustifiably forgotten by the Macedonian Government. Zaev behaves unjustifiably arrogant and forgets our people in the white world. That has to change. I have a different attitude to this issue. After all, a large part of the team of strategic collaborators I work with are part of that diaspora working in prestigious colleges and business companies from Europe and the world.
I also maintain regular contacts with Macedonian associations from Europe, America and Australia. I believe that the Macedonian state needs to pay more attention towards its expatriates and at the same time maintaining and nurturing traditional good relations. When you interact with these people without exception they are made available, but attention needs to be given to animating them and calling for their help. Those relations need to be strengthened and will certainly be one of my further commitments.
What will you do to improve the climate for foreign investment, do you have a plan?
Mickoski: We committed ourselves that VMRO-DPMNE in the 4 year term in office will realize projects, capital investments for development of Macedonia worth not less than 2 billion euros. At the same time, we plan to attract foreign investment and domestic investment, worth not less than 4 billion euros in 4 years. We will make a drastic improvement in the business climate and we will do everything in our power to make up for the lost. In these years Macedonia has a historic decline in investments with a historic decline in construction and industry. In business there is no good and favorable climate, there is only racket. Several foreign companies have entrusted me with information about all kind of problems they encounter from ministers to administrative employees in the institutions in charge of these companies. That has to change. The main problem is that the government has no concept. Practically all that good work that has been done in the past is ruined. Huge damage has been done, and this government is not recognizable by any investment other than those they have lied about like Facebook, Google, Sanos, or Volkswagen. There’s nothing of that. I can tell you that I am holding talks with several major foreign companies that express a desire to invest immediately after the change of government because they do not trust the current officials. We have a plan and vision for progress and I assure you to expect very good and positive changes in the first hundred days after the election.
It is said that in higher education there are 2-3 private faculties that simply produces diplomas. You are a professor, will you have the courage to cut the Gordian knot in higher education so that we will have real diplomas and experts of higher quality?
Mickoski: Of course we have to invest a lot in education. We do not need quantity but quality. It is acceptable for Macedonia not to be on the Shanghai list of quality higher education institutions and to have no University in the first thousand in the world. That is why I have a plan to invest not less than a billion euros in education. Investments in education for the youngest preschoolers. For students, renovated dormitories and at least one university on the Shanghai ranking list. We must also improve the working conditions of the teaching staff and value their work.
As Prime Minister, are you ready to cooperate with Pendarovski, who was elected President on the proposal of SDSM?
Mickoski: I am ready to cooperate with everyone when it is in the interest of my people and my country, and on the other hand Pendarovski needs to show real will and integrity to get out of the criminal matrix of the one whose career he owes to.