In principle, the expectations of the citizens from the actions of politicians and political entities is to offer a vision for the future of the country, but also solutions for the current challenges they really face. You presented the “new doctrine” or the “new treaty” at your party congress.

Does the doctrine indicate a drastic political turn in the concept of VMRO-DPMNE, or a shift from the traditional principles and values of the right-wing parties?

Mickoski: We do not run away from our Christian Democrat values. On the contrary, I would say that we build on them with principles and values, which open the party to the wider political spectrum. In this regard, the policy of the so-called “new treaty” opens the party to the wise heads of this society, who in the first epoch of state development in these 30 years were put aside or, I would say, pushed for various reasons. The new treaty means opening up and calling for mobilization towards those people. Because those who abuse power want and have an interest in these people to remain politically indifferent and disinterested, which, in turn, leaves room for bad individuals with lucrative interests to decide on behalf of all others. Exactly the new treaty, in the time we call the second epoch, should make a dramatic turn of unification and common patriotism, which should be the point of common interest of all people living in our Macedonia. Also, the concept of the new agreement means opening the party for all well-meaning individuals and groups, regardless of their affiliation to the communities, to participate in the revolutionary changes in the way of behaving on the political scene and the changes that should happen for the new future, which we owe it to the citizens. Our commitment is our dream of revolutionary change, which should take us out of the thirty-year swamp in which we are as a state.

Macedonia did not receive a date for the start of EU accession talks and the Bulgarian veto remained, which caused another huge disappointment among citizens and the public. Where do you see the way out of this situation? Is there any room for possible new concessions and should we give up that we are Macedonians, give up the Macedonian language, history, identity?

Mickoski: Macedonia and we as Macedonians have no room for any concessions. This is a newly created dispute during this government, and the concessions, but also the bargaining mind set of the first man of the Government, opened the appetites of Bulgaria, which in such a block finds its interest in the internal battle on the local political scene. The Macedonian red lines are contained in the Resolution passed in the Parliament of Macedonia and there is no room for compromising to the detriment of national interests. In the last two or three days I will hear admiration from the government, the Government, the Deputy Prime Ministers, the President of the country that they welcomed the new approach of the new Bulgarian government to the dispute. And what did Prime Minister Petkov say, which the government assesses as a positive new approach? That they will discuss not only history but also other areas important to the dispute between the two countries.

At the same time, the next day, the Government of Bulgaria and their President reiterated their commitment to the Bulgarian Declaration, which outlines the maximalist and, I would say, assimilation Bulgarian demands on us. Additionally, a Bulgarian MEP made a statement in the European Parliament that Macedonia was the second Bulgarian state, and no one in the Macedonian government, the Macedonian Foreign Ministry, the Deputy Prime Ministers, the President came out to condemn such a negative attitude. All that remains on the public air is their admiration for, as they called it, the new approach of the Bulgarian government, which in fact means unchanged positions. That approach may mean more money for a plane ticket for more Buckovski and Osmani meetings, but it will not change anything substantial, because it is clear that Bulgaria maintains its positions.

In that context, the Government, this and every next one, must pursue an offensive and proactive policy to protect our interests. VMRO-DPMNE is for open relations with our neighbors, but also for mutual respect. If they demand respect, then they will have to give respect. After all, that is the principle of reciprocity. On the other hand, it is clear that this government can no longer deliver quality reforms that will guarantee progress in the field of integration. The reasons for sitting in the Government of Alternative and all the other parties whose excuse was the progress in the field of European integration are also lost, which, we see, are not happening. That is why elections are one of the sustainable and necessary solutions. The country needs new energy.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for Macedonia at the moment, internally and externally?

Mickoski: Internally, the biggest problem is poverty, as well as the fact that more and more people are getting poorer. The economy, I would say, it is devastated, while the Government does not offer anything attractive to support what should be the driving force of the economy. Another common problem for all parts of the country and cities is the growing emigration. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are leaving the country in search of a better life abroad. And it is not just that category of low-income people, but more and more people with higher incomes decide to make such a move, because they refuse to live in a ruined system. Another problem is the lack of justice and the high level of corruption. Today bribes are paid for obtaining a simple document from a state institution, for a medical examination, for a clinic operation and what not. The country is a record holder on the scales of corruption and the most astonishing thing is that the Government and the institutions that should be in charge of it do not give any resistance. Externally, the biggest problem is that the Government does not have a state strategy for protection of national and state interests, due to which the state is subject to blackmail. Also, Macedonia has been outside the European Union for too long, which is a consequence of the fact that there are no reforms, no responsibility when you have a car accident in which 45 people die, when you do not have a system for protection of citizens. Macedonia is not in the global deployment of forces in the Balkans and is unprepared to welcome the new processes.

In a pragmatic sense of the word, the political practice of coalition and constant concessions to smaller parties has turned into the Sword of Damocles for the ruling parties. VMRO-DPMNE has such an experience while it was in power, but it was repeated in the recent negotiations for a new majority in Parliament, in support of a new government. Do such practices and policies pay too much tax to the detriment of the majority of citizens and to the detriment of the state, and in the interest of petty political interests of the smaller coalition partners and the desire to come or stay in power at any cost?

Mickoski: I respect every political party and I have no hesitation in talking to any political entity, regardless of its orientation and size, when I assess that it is in the interest of the state and the people. But I cannot and will not accept, neither now nor in the future, blackmail and unprincipled agreements with any political party. The non-securing majority in the Parliament and those claims of Kastriot Rexhepi that he gave a chance to the European integrations, fall into the water after the new Bulgarian veto. The question is whether Kastriot will now withdraw and apologize to the citizens or will he continue to sit on the lap of power? At the same time, Alternative should choose whether it will be an alternative to the government or a partner of DUI in the division of power? I think politics must be a matter of principles and values, not the other way around.

It has become a common practice after every major problem in the country, to seek solutions through new elections. Can elections be and should be sought only through solutions to the accumulated problems in the state and in society?

Mickoski: I do not think that elections are always a solution and that we should always look for an exit in elections, but that is not the case that corresponds to the current situation. There is no longer any reason for this government, which, I will mention, was delegitimized in the local elections, to continue to rule and govern the country. It offers neither reforms to the economy, nor can it bring a European perspective. And the state, led by SDSM, is entering new uncertainties and challenges that stand in the way of Macedonia. That is why elections are the only solution. And we want them to happen as soon as possible this spring. Any extension of the current status quo, without elections, will mean deepening of the problems.

Do you mention in your program the need for national unification to address the challenges of the state? How do you plan to implement this in practice? When “unification” is mentioned, the first association among citizens and the public is for such a thing to happen between the two largest parties on essential issues of national interest. Is that possible?

Mickoski: As I said before, I will talk to everyone and everything if I believe that it is in the interest of the people and Macedonia and it is not difficult for me. At the same time, VMRO-DPMNE today is a reformed party that has kept pace with modern times. We do not see that in SDSM, whose current president we see bowing to the previous one, which indicates that the “Zaevism” is not defeated. Among other things, many people there need to be held accountable for missed opportunities and dubious deals, which have easily created millionaires in the government. But let me return to your question – when the interest is Macedonia, we should sit down and talk, not only about reforms but also about policies. That is why we submitted a Resolution in the Parliament on the problem with Bulgaria, which SDSM accepted. That is why we support legal solutions in the part in which we believe that they bring good to the citizens. We are neither vain nor guided by petty partisan interests. But we react when the Government grovels before others, to the detriment of our state and national interests.

Do you, as a party, have an answer and a solution to the national challenges in the context of European integration and the blockade by Bulgaria?

Mickoski: It is necessary to talk, to have a broad consensus among all political actors and to hold the same position, which will convince our interlocutors in the unsustainability of the dispute. Let’s focus on the points that unite us and where we can deepen the cooperation and, of course, lobby intensively with our friends from the European Union. This latest veto from Bulgaria passes without any bilateral meeting of the Prime Minister of Macedonia with the Prime Minister of another influential member state.

Although there is much talks about the economy, in practice the situation is far from favorable. What economic reforms are you planning, in order to revive the economy and increase GDP?

Mickoski: We will dedicate most of the time to the economy, because that is where most of the current problems of the citizens are. Our goal and vision as a party will be to fight in a time distance to achieve an economic standard like in Austria. Our goal as part of that new agreement we are talking about is to reduce the personal income tax and the profit tax to 8%. Personal income tax for young people to be 0 percent, and every year after the stabilization of the economy to have growth of up to 6 percent.

To achieve single-digit unemployment by supporting domestic and foreign investment. To regulate the market for cryptocurrency trading, trading using blockchain technology. In education, to have a university in the top 500 according to the Shanghai list, to halve corruption, so that instead of the 111th place on the Transparency list to be among the top 50. Our goal and our vision is to create a system in agriculture of safe purchase for farmers and export of  producers, something we have not done for three decades. To network in culture, to become part of European events. Macedonia has something to say in this regard. And finally, to experience Macedonia becoming part of the European Union. I believe that we will achieve this and for that we need every person.

Interview with “Nova Makedonija