Interview of MFA Nikola Poposki for "Standard"

Date: 03.06.2016

Journalist: Krasi Temelkova

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1. Minister, what are positions and situation like after the postponement of elections in Macedonia?

What remains is for us to agree on a new election date. Elections are part of the political agreement that was reached last summer. The largest opposition party asked for elections, but afterwards they estimated that it would be better if elections aren’t held this soon. There’s no point in forcing elections on someone, especially if that same someone has requested elections to be held in the first place.
We will surely reach a domestic agreement on when to make the remaining step from last year’s agreement, and that is elections. As with any other agreement, the most important thing is to use this time for vital reforms that will lead as towards the EU. This is a priority. Not because of the procedure, but because of the essence of those reforms, as a prerequisite for greater predictability in the country.

2.When can we expect elections to take place and is it possible to reach an agreement between parties on this issue?

I cannot actually pinpoint the date when the agreement on elections will be reached. We know that it is going to happen. The sooner, the better. It is more important to prevent the spiral of instability and to keep the focus on reforms which should be implemented regardless of anyone’s opinion on the political situation. They are the one unifying factor. Parliamentary majority has a stable support and vision for moving forward.

3. Who won from the delay of elections and what kind of losses were brought on by this decision?

At first glance I don’t see that anyone has won something. Practically we all lost; some more, some less. But as I said, you can’t force elections on someone. Especially not someone who has requested early elections themselves.

4. Are you aware of people’s protests?

Yes, and I would staunchly fight for everyone to have the right to express their own opinion in my country. Everyone has their point. Wisdom lies in the capacity to accept all opinions, critiques and standpoints, and to deduce what’s best for the country.

5. How will this political crisis affect Macedonia’s path towards the EU?

It undoubtedly complicated our path to the EU. The unfair delay of accession negotiations between the EU and Macedonia is being mentioned less and less. It is almost forgotten. A much more active topic is the drama related to the political clash within the country. Political clashes seem to be the number one regional sport. This unquestionably costs us a lot. I am personally convinced that this situation will be surpassed and we will come out stronger on the other side. But we must find solutions with domestic resources. No one from the outside will help us, unless we help ourselves.

6. When can we expect the Agreement on Good Neighbourly Relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia to be finalized?

How we reach this agreement is much more important that the agreement itself. Will this be a feat of strength or a fair agreement between partner countries? The current approach is encouraging. There are efforts on both sides to understand the concerns of the other in an open manner. Historically, a feeling prevails in Macedonia that when our neighbours want something, they are asking for our soul. And being a proud people we’re not thrilled when we get this impression. I believe we can succeed. The deadline shouldn’t be a priority, but rather our partnership within the EU. The depth of talks between people from working groups of both sides is a good sign for this process.

7. What is your opinion on the development of relations between the two countries during your mandate as Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Objectively, we’ve had plenty of dark periods when we felt that the only success for Bulgaria is to extort Macedonia. After numerous oscillations, I believe that at the moment we are perhaps in a phase when communications are at the highest possible level, at least in comparison to the last 5 years. Perhaps the political developments that occurred in both countries have made us wiser and more dedicated in the long-run on creating sincere friendships. This is the Balkans, not Scandinavia. But without keeping a cool head we will only distance ourselves further from Scandinavia in terms of mentality and economic standards. The latter is a bigger problem. That is why we need to be resolutely dedicated to building a good climate between our two countries and the region, since that will help us bring in investments and jobs. In this aspect, Bulgaria and Macedonia share the exact same interest.