On May 5, the people will speak out loud with a pen in their hands and will circle the number in front of the name of the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, says VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, who believes in a landslide victory in the second round of the presidential elections , but also in the parliamentary elections, which Prime Minister Zoran Zaev promised to call, if SDSM lost in these elections or if the required turnout is not reached. According to him, the punishment of the people who live in hardship will come and he is disappointed with the unfulfilled promises and lies Zaev gave before the parliamentary elections. There is not even an L of life, life has become hell in Macedonia, says Mickoski.
Today is May 1, Labor Day. It is inevitable to ask the question of Macedonian workers. What are the rights of the Macedonians worker? Do you think there is some improvement in workers’ rights in the country over the years? What do Macedonian workers lack the most?
Mickoski: Not only during the campaign, but also in the period before the campaign I had the opportunity to talk and hear the testimonies of a large number of citizens, workers working in different industries, but also in the administration sector, in other companies. There is an overwhelming opinion among the people that the situation is catastrophic, that it has never been more difficult. And I do not say this just as the president of the opposition, criticizing the government just because we need to criticize it. Indeed, the testimonies of the workers are sad: about the environment in which they work, the conditions, I do not even want to talk about the wages – they are below the minimum required for a simple life worthy of a human. Everything that Zaev was promising in the pre-election period in 2016 and in 2017, it was all an empty promise. Remember the little comic book called “Life”. There is not even an L of life, life has become hell in Macedonia.
The overall situation of the workers is generally bad, but what concerns me is the trade union organization. The defiance that should arise from trade union organizations is nowhere to be seen. Has someone put unions to sleep using unconventional methods or I do not know what happened, but those who should be avant-garde, defend and represent workers’ rights, for two years now I have not heard that there is any activity other than the Education Trade Union, who made several attempts for protest marches throughout the Republic of Macedonia, but they also stopped.
There are no trade unions connecting industrial workers. I have heard from people who run those trade union organizations that the government, through its own installments, makes an incursion into the unions and thus tries to control the discontent that is present among the workers.
However, we must not despair. Better times are coming. VMRO-DPMNE will win the presidential election and it will win the snap parliamentary elections. The despot is on its knees, and then better times will come for the workers and all citizens in the Republic of Macedonia.
Did those promises of 500-euro salary for each worker look realistic to you? Do you think that you, if early parliamentary elections were held and you would win, can secure such a salary, as Zaev promised?
Mickoski: For me, none of Zoran Zaev’s promises were realistic. Today my doubts that I was right then have been confirmed. I really have nothing to comment on a politician who often gambles with the truth or does not speak the truth. His promises are empty promises and often serve for one purpose – to stay in the prime minister’s chair as long as he can, for money, for power.
What VMRO-DPMNE has set as an agenda in its activities is how to improve the quality of life of our fellow citizens. Of course, we cannot come out with a program that will offer a total solution to all problems of our fellow citizens, but I can say that we will come out with an unprecedented program that will offer solutions for most of the problems of our citizens. I would not go into numerical data X euros salary, Y euros average salary. We will do everything for not only 500, but more hundreds of euros of average salary in Macedonia because our citizens deserve a different reality from this.
Today I read that salaries in eastern European countries are growing fast because part of a skilled workforce migrates to Western Europe and Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Poland are taken as examples. What Zaev promised was empty words, he did nothing, and on the other hand, Eastern European countries, including our neighbor Bulgaria, are working on how to keep their highly skilled people in their country. The average salaries in those countries grow from 8 to 12% annually, which is exceptional data. For example, in Romania, general practitioners, have a salary of 1860-1920 euros. Nurses take a 650-700 euro average salary so they do not leave the country.
This means that can be achieved if there is a clear plan, a clear methodology. Unfortunately, these political adventurers, fraudsters, have shown and proved that their word does not carry weight at all. Fortunately for the citizens, better times are coming, politicians are coming that will be among the citizens and together with the citizens will work for the good of this country.
The salaries were merely one of the promises that Zoran Zaev made before he came to power. There were many other promises in the field of economy, which, unfortunately, are just a story, and not a reality. Zaev claims that we are heading for the better, there is a constant criticism on this topic, and they put the blame on the previous authorities. The previous government made a catastrophe, we can not get out of it. Were two years of rule enough to do more and to see the first results if they were working seriously?
Mickoski: Your question can be answered with two theses. Zoran Zaev promised a 5% growth in the gross domestic product. If we analyze the current growth with the government of Zoran Zaev from 1 June 2017 until the last quarter of 2018, it is somewhat modest over 2%. I expect the same in the first quarter of 2019. Provided that early parliamentary elections are not held, from the first to the last quarter of 2019, the government of SDSM and Zoran Zaev cannot deliver an increase in GDP of 2.8 to 3%. That means they lied to the citizens for exactly one billion euros. If we had a 5% GDP growth, we would have a billion more GDP than we will have now, assuming that this government will keep its mandate by 2020.
What is more comic in their thesis is that they have repaired unclarities from the past, while in fact this modest GDP growth is based on the strong activity of foreign investments that were brought in the zones during the rule of the previous government. I am also talking about those from the previous years and about those which they give themselves credit for – if we’re not for their activities, there would have been none of this modest 2 %. This happens at a time when the world economy and the European economy are doing great. In conditions of a fantastic world economy, when all the countries in Europe and the region are doing fantastic, we manage to have below average results that are exclusively based on the activities of the previous governments.
We have a catastrophic situation in the economy, we failed to seize the wave of a favorable economic climate in the region and in Europe, but also in the world. Salaries are within the average and from previous years. We had a jump in December 2018, but it was due to the fact that many of the companies paid off the accumulated gains in the form of bonuses or additional salaries for employees, because from January 1, 2019, we have an increase in personal income tax, we have an increase in high paid jobs from 10 to 18%.
They used the fiscal year 2018 to save funds that they would further use for investments. In January 2019, the average salary in December 2018 dropped and the same trend continued in February. The January average salary is smaller than the December one for 1500 denars. The way they play with the plans of economic business operators in the country is a trick economy.
You cannot have a predictable and successful economy if you do not have a predictable and successful government within the planning of tax obligations imposed by the government. This means that if companies do not have a clear tax policy in the coming years, you cannot clearly predict their development. We see that this government promised one thing when it was in opposition, and first that it did was to raise oil excise taxes to accumulate more money in the budget, then raised taxes, some for double, some for more than double. This trick economy will hit the pockets and negatively affect the quality of life of our fellow citizens.
What is more alarming to me is that many economic business operators decide to move the business to other countries and a large part of our skilled workforce remains jobless and the only way is to migrate to Europe, America, Australia.
So, we have a double loss – on the one hand, companies are moving, and on the other hand, skilled workforce is leaving.
Catastrophic picture in the economy. We failed to seize the wave of successful economic activity in Europe and in the world, but I hope that soon early parliamentary elections will be held and politicians, experts and people will come, who will be able to raise the Macedonian economy from this ash in which it is now.
Gasification is another promise. They are talking about connecting a pipe from Negotino to Greece. Do you expect it to be realized?
Mickoski: They promised many things, gasification, TE Negotino, they promised an energy-agricultural plant, and I was shocked when I read it in their program. Such coinage does not exist in the world. It was a revelation of the team of energy experts who worked on the SDSM plan, but for years now they failed to translate it into works, and now they are trying to sell TE Negotino.
They have many failures, especially in terms of gasification. We had a tender in which we sought for a private partner to conclude a public-private partnership agreement with the government for the construction of a secondary and tertiary gasification network. This means building a pipeline infrastructure that will bring gas to homes. The VMRO-DPMNE government built the gas pipeline with the Clearing debt of the Russian Federation, and then started building the gas pipelines from Stip through Negotino to Bitola, and the other one to be completed to Gostivar through Skopje and Tetovo. From these pipelines, pipeline infrastructure was to be built so that gas could be distributed to the homes. We had such a public call, I was in charge of it at the time, but when the new government came into power, the Deputy Prime Minister decided to annul that public call in order to make better conditions. Here, two years later, I read that they formed a commission that would reissue the same tender. After two years instead of having selected a concessionary who will work on the ground, they remembered that what was done was good and now they will redo it, of course, with a new commission.
The same thing happened with Chebrene-Galishte. We had a tender, a technical solution was sought, an innovative approach, different from what was in the past from those unsuccessful tenders. I’m not saying that in the past it was something incredibly successful, but in the last tender, we had dozen renown world companies that were interested in offering technical solutions. They canceled it, they had an idea, I do not know from where, I was shocked when I heard that ELEM was to build it. I do not know how much financial potential ELEM has now, but I do not believe that something has changed since the time when I was the chairman of the board and director of AD Elektrani na Makedonija, but that financial potential that ELEM had, practically cannot close 5 percent of the investment. But ok, perhaps their trick economy has a different approach. But we see that this idea has not been realized yet, probably again for the needs of the elections, this same Deputy Prime Minister was in Belgrade for a meeting with the International Financial Group, where he again put the Chebrene – Galishte project on the table and again since February 2019, here comes the month of May, none saying anything about that project. In other words, many untruths, many manipulations, speculation in the field of economics, in the field of energy. Unfortunately, the citizens are suffering from this lack of ideas, from all these manipulations, lies, wrong policies, bad steps, trick economy, but it is good that the day comes when honorable people will come, experts in that area and people who can really offer something that will be a solution to some of the problems that our fellow citizens are facing. And these political fraudsters, I hope after the early parliamentary elections will leave permanently from the political scene in the Republic of Macedonia.
You mentioned the farmers. Zaev boasts that he is a man of agriculture, that he is a farmer who has gotten where he has gotten. You often visit the rural areas during this campaign period, you meet with farmers. Did the farmers feel any change after SDSM came to power since Zaev promised to increased purchase, better conditions …?
Mickoski: Two things connect Zoran Zaev with the farmers. The first is that he tries to play on low passions and emotion that he comes from a rural region where agriculture dominates, and here he knows the troubles of the farmers, sympathizes with them, and that he is one of them and will offer solutions. He had the opportunity to offer solutions. He offered those solutions during the early parliamentary elections in 2016 and said that there would be a guaranteed purchase for the farmers’ products and that there would be practically increased subsidies and support in mechanization and so on. He understood the problems of farmers. But that was when he was in opposition before he came to money and power. Today, when Zoran Zaev is where he is, the everyday life and the reality in the Republic of Macedonia is the following – go to Resen, you will see how they cut apple trees because people sell a kilogram of apples for one denar and there is no one to purchase them. Go to Pijanec and the Maleshevo region and they will tell you how the plums are poured into the riverbeds because there is no one to purchase them. Go to the Kocani region, you will see barns filled with rice, because there is no one to purchase them. In Rosoman is the same with peaches. Go to southeast Macedonia, people will share stories about how the melons ended up, how the early garden products ended up. I can list many of these failures, false promises of Zoran Zaev, but what is now to him is a conclusion, aside from what he has shown that he not only he doesn’t know, but he also cannot solve it, is that he again he is now running a Bentley-Maybach policy that does not compare in any way to the light in which he wants to portray himself. If you really sympathize with those people and if you really know what their problems are, then occasionally, while driving in expensive Bentley and Maybach cars that are part of your family’s vehicles, you can see that those people barely make their ends meet. So, the image of a politician who runs Bentley-Maybach policy and a politician who wants to present himself as a part of the farmers sympathizing with their problems, do not go with each other. On the contrary, they are contradictory to one another. But it is part of that folklore familiar to these political fraudsters, which I said, except for the lie, the untruth, the gambling with the truth, they have nothing else to offer.
Merkel and Macron poured cold water on Macedonia in Berlin. Wanting to accept or not the name of the state has been changed, we are the Republic of North Macedonia, with the promise that it will open our doors to the EU.
Mickoski: It’s not just the name. The agreement signed in Nivici completely denies the Macedonian identity. It’s deeply, fundamentally wrong. And I will say again. What Zoran Zaev traded was inherited from someone else, someone else fought for this, so that we can live this today. But Zoran Zaev traded with it to become prime minister, to avoid punishment for the “Bribe” case, to have power, and for money. It’s a very simple job. Otherwise, before the curtain, the slogan was “This must be done to have a better future.” And now what happened? Last year, I remembered about the selfie in the government plane where government officials boldly said: “we just got the news that we got a start date for accession negotiations.” Then shows on semi-empty and empty squares around Macedonia were organized, people’s money was spent, expensive platforms, sound system, lighting, the day of starting negotiations was celebrated, but we saw that there are no negotiations. 2019 came, Zoran Zaev with his 102.5 percent presidential candidate went back around Macedonia, saying “here in two months we will get a date,” but unfortunately we saw that there is nothing, neither a date nor a clear close European perspective for the Republic of Macedonia. And more tragic than all this is that none of them took any responsibility. But they are trying again through ridiculous PR tools to convince the Macedonian public that they do not see what they see, that this lie is actually true and that we have a clear European perspective with these politicians. We cannot have a clear European perspective with politicians who run Maybach-Bentley policy on the principle of Mircho the Pigsty. It should be clear to us. We cannot have a European perspective while the most desirable business partner is the brother of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. We cannot have a European perspective with a former Swarovski judiciary and today’s Kacarska judiciary and Ruskoska prosecution. We cannot have a European perspective if the court decides on the prime minister’s pardon in the “Bribe” case on April 1 when the election campaign starts, in which the whole of Macedonia watched and listened to what the then mayor and current prime minister of the country asked. We cannot have a European perspective on the principle that “we will eat people alive”. And with such a type of politicians. We can have such a perspective if we roll up our sleeves, if we make real reforms, if we make reforms that will provide a real life for our citizens. If we restore the rule of law, if we restore the legal state. Without it we cannot go any further. And that cannot be restored by Hristijan, or made by Zoran Zaev. This should be done by the people from that profession, the judges and the prosecutors. Let’s leave them, take our hands from the judiciary and the prosecution, let the people make their own reforms themselves, make a stable judiciary, honorable prosecution, and then we will have more investments, we will have reforms in other areas, we will have more money in the budget, more new jobs and higher salaries and more subsidies and renovated schools and hospitals. It is that spiral, that real spiral, and not that of Tevdovski and Zaev, what Macedonia should look like in the future. That’s the essence if you want to function as a state. A person who in the past was persecuted for suspicion of committing a crime, in the “Global” case, in the ” Bribe” case and in other cases, today is heading the judicial reform body. It can be a person who has no concession in the past. It can be a person who never had a problem with the law in his life. It cannot be a person who had a problem with the laws. That’s impossible. And this is seen by the people in the European administration and make such decisions. And the decision is clear. They say, people you should be Europeanized first. Listen to the message from Macron and Merkel – first, you need to sort out things at home in order to have a European future. We talked about this here on June 2, 2018. First Europeanization at home, and then Europeanization outside. There is no Europe with the Bentley-Maybach policy according to the principle of Mircho the Pigsty.
Will VMRO-DPMNE be blamed for this “cold shower”?
Mickoski: Hristijan and VMRO-DPMNE will be blamed if snow falls in the mountains in May, if we trust what Zoran Zaev says. It’s comical, the people know very well who is to blame – it’s the person who abused their votes, their emotions and their trust. That person has a name – Zoran Zaev – and has a party – SDSM. It is so clearly evident, that even Zoran Zaev will be made aware – initially on May 5th, and then at the early general elections. I hope that at least for once in his life he will show some honesty and will keep his word (that early general elections will be called).
Zaev promised an “operation broom”, that he will sweep his own yard after the first round results. Do you believe that he will really purge his people, or will all end with a few resignation of people hired through nepotistic practices?
Mickoski: At the start of the interview, I said I don’t believe a word this politician says, because everything he says has one and only purpose – to preserve his power and to keep lining his coffers. There is nothing honorable in this entire situation – if there was, he would’ve left his post long ago. This morning I was informed that, during his latest trip to Berlin, after the fiasco, after the cold shower he received, he had a different purpose – he was there to beg the European politicians to delay the publication of the fact that Macedonia will not be given a date to open EU accession talks until after May 5th, so that he would be able to blame VMRO-DPMNE for this decision. There was a comical and slightly theatrical outburst he had there. While all politicians fight for the future of their countries, this one fights to come up with ways to blame VMRO-DPMNE. But. let’s allow some time to see how this situation develops.
You are not much for hypothetical questions, but if you were in Zaev’s place, wth all his nepotism, rigged public procurement contracts.. where would you begin your “operation broom”?
Mickoski: It’s a very ungrateful question because if falls far from my way of functioning. But, if I had the role, I would begin with the person on top. There was a tweet from professor Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova, which rang true, that the fish rots from the head. What Zoran Zaev did, with his subordinate handing him the broom, was theater, a movie scene. None of it was real. It was performed so ineptly, that I’m at a loss to say what they themselves believe is the truth – Zaev and his subordinate running for President were persuading us before the first round of elections that Macedonia is a shiny example, that investments are pouring in, salaries are rising, unemployment is dropping, our European future is within grasp, just millimeters away, all we have to do is elect his man for President and it’s done, we are in Europe. Or, is the truth what Zaev tells us now, that we are not doing well, and a purge is in order. In fact, he lied a lot before the elections, and now he simply manipulates and lies because his real goal is to preserve himself in power for as long as he can. They have no intention of accomplishing anything and they have no potential to reform anything. The people will give Zoran Zaev the broom on May 5th, along with his presidential candidate, and then we will finally put an end to this type of political fraudsters in the subsequent early general elections.
The second round is on May 5th. After the 2018 referendum you said that there was voter fraud, that ballot stuffing was going on. The State Electoral Commission overturned the results in one polling station because of ballot stuffing. Will we have a repeat of this situation in the second round?
Mickoski: The people need to protect their democracy We will not give up on investigating these cases until the justice is met. During the referendum, we had polling stations with turnouts between 85 and 98 percent. The same places now saw turnouts of no more than 20 percent. Only one of them had 22.5 percent turnout. So, the question is, where are these voters now, they were rushing to the polls during the referendum, and now they are missing? Are they disappointed that the European perspective they “voted” for in the referendum has not materialized? Seriously, there are ways to determine whether these alleged voters were in the country and whether they really voted in 2018. We have integrated border management that can reveal this. VMRO-DPMNE and I personally insist that these cases of voter fraud are unveiled and that the local electoral commissions are held responsible for allowing this. We will not have democracy until there is criminal accountability for those who stuff ballot boxes, and until they serve as an example to others who may try this. We must do all in our power to protect democracy. I will fight to the last to have the perpetrators of these abuses during the referendum prosecuted. This goes for the similar examples during the first round of the presidential elections. They must be brought before the face of justice. They must be punished. We will not move forward without accountability. In this country, political deals were allowed in the past, and this is why we received such a cold shower in Berlin. We must introduce the mechanism of accountability. We must bring the perpetrators to justice. There are no excuses for this, some will state that we have geo-strategic priorities, that we must turn a blind eye. No. Those who broke the law will be held responsible, even if it was me.
We face the second round of elections. Professor Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova – the VMRO-DPMNE supported candidate – won a lot of votes and colored the map red, replacing the blue from the past elections. What are your expectations in the second round?
Mickoski: I expect a major victory. In the campaigning between the two rounds, in all the rallies with the citizens, I feel the energy and I believe that the dam is breaking. The people suffered through a lot of injustices but now they decided to take matters into their own hands and use the ballots to choose the party which sincerely means to restore justice in Macedonia. This is why I’m certain that our presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova will win in the second round.
Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova is the presidential candidate of VMRO-DPMNE, a party led by Hristijan Mickoski, and yet the most often mentioned name during the campaign is that of Nikola Gruevski. If you listen to Zoran Zaev and Stevo Pendarovski, it’s as if they are campaigning against Gruevski. Does this help or hurt Siljanovska?
Mickoski: We are dealing with politicians who can’t offer a real program, and this is why they are trying to link me or professor Gordana with somebody who they believe represents the bad past of the Republic of Macedonia. I encourage them to continue with their strategy. The results of their strategy will be seen on May 5th, and then at the early general elections. You can fool and manipulate the people once, they may even give you a second – and last – chance. But the third time you will receive the just punishment, not only because you lied the first two times, but also because you’re incompetent and can’t win over the people to your side. You can only win its support by hard work and by fulfilling your promises. On May 5th, the people will loudly choose their new President of the Republic of Macedonia, Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova.