In an interview with, the leader of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski talks about the changes that the congress will bring, the work of the mayors, the vision for Skopje and Skopje municipalities, the future development of the city, the future activities of VMRO DPMNE, but also about the private life and private obligations of the president of the largest opposition party in Macedonia.

The 17th congress of VMRO-DPMNE will be held next weekend in Skopje, what are your expectations from the congress?

Mickoski: This is a regular congress where VMRO-DPMNE will make a retrospective of the past 4 years that were quite turbulent for the party and the country. At the same time, I will present a plan and program for the next 4 years. I can say from a time distance that we have gone through significant challenges in these 4 years from which the party has emerged stronger and united. Practically, in the past period we realized my goals and visions at the last Valandovo congress,  Additionally, we showed a program commitment and vision for a new future that we owe to the citizens through the changes we have started at the local level and for which we have an obligation to expand to the central level in order to change things.

The 17th congress will be the event where a new doctrine of VMRO will be adopted and where the goals of our existence will be defined, the cause we are fighting for, and what we plan in the future. That will be our biography for those who want to be part of VMRO-DPMNE and to whom we extend the hand. We will have important messages for the times ahead. In my program that I will propose, I will cover the most burning issues of our country, which is what we will stand on but also our positioning on strategically important topics.

What kind of refreshment will the congress bring to the ranks of the largest opposition party and to the political scene in Macedonia? Can we expect significant personnel and conceptual changes?

Mickoski: I will offer personnel and conceptual changes. Changes that I define as reinforcement, but also a new phase in the action that will mean opening to the general public and mobilization of intellectual and social capacities that we will put in function of the progress and construction of the country. Let us unite over the important issues because the problems that afflict the citizens are the same. Then we need to take the baton and show how is done. VMRO-DPMNE has made great changes in the past 4 years and has stood on its feet, now is the time to start taking big steps forward because time is inevitably flowing and the people justifiably demand results.

VMRO DPMNE in the last local elections won the majority of votes of the citizens and the largest number of municipalities in Macedonia, what does this mean for the party and what are your next plans for action at the local level?

Mickoski: I have intensive communication with the mayors and we are working intensively on the ground with the intention to realize what was promised. I see that I am subject to criticism because of that by the government, but I intend to be even more present on the ground and to solve citizens’ problems. I am satisfied with the pace of work of most mayors and I can say that despite the huge debts and inherited problems so far in just thirty days over 20 capital projects have been launched in different municipalities, be it water supply, sewerage, streets, schools or gyms. Among other things, I use my presence on the ground for meetings with the chambers of commerce and together the municipality, the business and I solve the problems, because it is human and professional to always have an open door for everyone because in the end the citizens benefit. Also from the beginning of next year there will be an open phone line where citizens can report problems, but also to be informed about the process of monitoring the implementation of the program, as well as to report inconsistencies to the headquarters of VMRO-DPMNE, after which we will organize a team that will process such messages from citizens. I am glad that the mayors listened to my advice to them to give up the privileges offered by the municipal seat and to be careful in the use of municipal funds. I also announce in the coming period increased intensity of work on the project implementation plan of the program, the promises are being realized and the changes at the local level must be felt intensively.

Almost all Skopje municipalities (with the exception of Centar) are run by staff from your party, how will this affect the future development of Skopje and what do you expect from the staff who have been in the mayoral positions for more than a month?

Mickoski: Skopje mayors show freshness in their work. At the same time, although I impose and seek a strong pace of work, one should be aware that the problems that are inherited are huge. I remember the first meetings after taking office with the mayor of Gjorce Petrov, Aleksandar, who informed me with concern that the municipality is in such a deficit that it will not be able to make payments, so we sat down together to look for solutions. But I am really pleased that serious projects have started in Kisela Voda, Aerodrom, Gazi Baba, Butel, Gjorce Petrov. I see that Jakimovski in Karpos is on the ground every day, solving accumulated problems. Skopje is moving forward and we are creating a solid foundation for future development. Sustainable solutions are needed, but there must be quick responsiveness in addressing the needs of Skopje. In Aerodrom, the construction of a kindergarten has started, in Gazi Baba the construction of a new water supply and sewerage system, in Kisela Voda decisions for legalization of illegal buildings are being shared, for which people have been waiting for years, but also fecal sewerage is starting. Along the way, illegal landfills are being cleared, the construction of a boulevard in Ohrid was launched, streets are being asphalted and many other projects. All this provides a new impetus in the work of Skopje.

Danela Arsovska was an independent candidate supported by your party, how is the cooperation with her and what are the plans for further projects and development of the city?

Mickoski: From what I have been informed by Arsovska is that they are working on several major projects for the city of Skopje in parallel. Staffing is underway there, Arsovska has her own plans and visions for the city. They are working on solutions that will cover decades old problems such as traffic chaos, landfills and dirt in Skopje, parking and the like. What she has promised for the first hundred days, I see that she works  on that and I believe that she will have the strength to fulfill the promise. The city of Skopje must develop to offer solutions and to be an open city with a sense of the needs of the people of Skopje. I believe that the realization of capital infrastructure projects will start very soon.

Staffing related to the city public enterprises is somehow slow. Where is the problem, deliberate tactics or a problem in finding the right staffing solutions?

Mickoski: That phase has begun. In addition to the fact that the directors of public city enterprises are bound by managerial contracts that have their own expiration date, it is primarily important to select the right people. As I am informed, Drisla got a new director. Jane is a top professional, a young staff who I believe will work honestly and responsibly. That’s also the case with the new director of Lajka, who as I am informed, has an impressive biography. The decisions are made by the mayor Danela Arsovska and I am convinced that she will make the right choice that will benefit the people of Skopje.

What kind of Skopje does Hristijan Mickoski want to live in? You probably have great power as president of VMRO-DPMNE, what would you change?

Mickoski: Skopje is a great emotion for me, the city of my childhood, the city where I will probably end my life. Over the years, Skopje has lost its recognizable city charm, or as the older Skopje citizens would say, the soul of the city, which is not only in the places important for the citizens of Skopje, but also in the behavior of the people who become more and more alienated over time. I want an open city, a city where there will be planned growth and planned construction, with lots of green space and important issues resolved. The traffic chaos must be resolved, as must the urban rampage linked to the urban mafia which has to end. I want Skopje to have clean air, connected neighborhoods and municipalities and enough parking space. A city that will have enough places for sports and special care for cyclists, a place of events and a city with care for its people.

We often see you on Vodno, at the faculty and in the media where you talk about politics, is it possible in 24 hours for a person to find time and be successful in all fields of life? What is your top priority?

Mickoski: Everything must be achieved, and that is part of organizing oneself. I do not miss going to university lectures, where I have to admit I really feel relaxed when I am with my students and I have the opportunity to transfer knowledge. The climbs on Vodno are part of my ritual, when the weather allows it, because in a way I experience it as a discharge of negative energy. It’s a great way to be alone with your thoughts. But these are daily rituals. What is important for me in my work is to influence the change of moral norms in our society. We must change the image of politicians, of managing institutions. Demonstrate responsibility for the promises and show that it could and must be different. Different in education, in economics, in entrepreneurship, in agriculture. We must show by personal example that we are ready to lead, and that the silent majority will not back down this time. Good people have been sidelined for too long, due to the bad decisions of the decision-makers in our society. The seats are not something hereditary, and one’s dignity must not be lost here. We have to show that together we can move mountains and as long as we are together next to each other and fight together we will succeed.

We often see you on the ground, you promote new projects and announce the realization of even more, will VMRO-DPMNE succeed in this situation to be the machine that will move the projects and the changes in the society?

Mickoski: The changes have begun. They are the answer of the people because of the dissatisfaction that exists due to the acute problems, the growing poverty, the unpunished crime, the rotten system. The changes are led by VMRO-DPMNE and they are not only the started projects and the work of our mayors, but also the change of the matrix and the value system that has ruled for these thirty years. VMRO will be the driving force of the changes that will happen and the main proponent of the new future that will happen. And that is why the second phase will start after the congress, where we will make a social mobilization and call on every single individual who wants to join us and be part of the changes.

This weekend we heard that the current ruling majority is consolidating, how do you comment on the current political developments?

Mickoski: The maintenance of this majority is not a consequence of the will of the citizens, but a result of the interests around which this government unites, which are primarily lucrative. In addition, Zaev is ready to pay any price for the survival of this criminal coalition. A new political market is being created so that Zaev and the ministers keep their seats, and the citizens pay for that. The invention of ministries is in order to satisfy political appetites. It totally does not matter if the minister was from one community and someone else from another. It is important that all 19 ministries are run by incompetent ministers, and I will remind you that SDSM before coming to power promised a smaller number of ministries. While the people have money to buy bread, as prices go up, the government will revel in fictitious ministries. It is not a question of whether this government will last, it is clear that it will be a short period, the thing is to be as soon as possible so that the damage is smaller. That is why we say that the only way out is early parliamentary elections in which the people will decide.