Skopje, 10 July 2020 (MIA) – Ohrid Framework Agreement, Prespa Agreement and the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria are the alpha and omega of peace, stability and security in the country, and they are the red lines that DUI will not cross in the post-election coalition, says DUI leader Ali Ahmet in the interview with MIA.
Ahmeti stressed that they could not be a partner with someone who plans or makes attempts to violate these agreements, which, as he said, have contributed to relaxation of inter-ethnic relations in the country.
So, anyone who attempts to violate these agreements in any way, cannot be our partner, therefore we are very open and honest thus warning about this on time, Ahmeti said, who in an interview with MIA also referred to the slogan under which his party is participating in this parliamentary elections – the first-ever Albanian Prime Minister.
In regard to this idea, which triggered public controversy, Ahmeti said that it is a natural continuity of the policies they have pursued, i.e. appointment of Albanians to high positions from directors, ministers, Parliament Speaker …
He said they suggested their own candidate in the presidential elections, but then they estimated that Pendarovski would be a more acceptable candidate and they were totally committed Pendarovski to receive the support.
“We have taken a step and now is the time to reciprocate in same way. We have taken these steps in this direction with the best intention, to send a message to the citizens and all people that the country is progressing only when communicate and cooperate with each other, and not when we are divided,” Ahmeti told MIA.
He believed that the idea for first-ever Albanian Prime Minister is a good message for the region and the international community – that the Macedonians and also the Albanians, as the two largest ethnic groups, are protecting the interests of the country.
“This is for the benefit of all and the state, but we are not disappointed with these statements or claims, but we warn them to be careful, because such statements are dangerous, regardless of whether they really mean that. Someone may say it’s a campaign, but it’s hard for me to accept this so easily, because I’m surprised even by our members, that this DUI is supposedly using it to improve its image. DUI has no reason to improve its image, it does not need to enrich its history, because if there is a political party with longevity in this region, regardless of the fact that was created at the beginning of the 21st century, then it is DUI,” Ahmeti told MIA.
He added that for years he has been trying to avoid partiality of Albanians in the country in many parties, because in this way they are losing their mandates, they are losing their power.
“Time has shown that my concerns were correct, four years ago out of 29 seats that Albanians had in the Macedonian Parliament, they were reduced to 20 seats and by thus DUI did not lose the elections, but Albanians lost nine seats,” Ahmeti said in an interview with MIA.
Read the full interview and watch the video below:
Mr. Ahmeti, the election campaign is coming to an end. What are the five main projects that will convince the citizens to vote for DUI in the July 15 elections?
There are numerous projects and you put me in a position to list five of all those projects, however it would be very important for us to complete the country’s gasification project, because there are many benefits from this project, namely it will have a direct impact to protection of the environment and is one of the priorities of special importance. Also, the completion of Corridor 8, which was launched but due to many technical reasons, activities were stopped, and are of great interest for the route from Kicevo to Kjafasan and Ohrid. The completion of Skopje – Blace road is also of significant importance, but the activities were prolonged due to differences among the parties and other disputable issues as the one with properties.
It is also extremely important for all of us to agree that despite the statements made to the public, vetting process is one of the issues we insist on, conducting a vetting process without prejudice and seeking revenge, but to implement rule of law and to have no selective judiciary in the country, to have a credible judiciary and vetting process should be conducted for all policy makers, legislators, police. Furthermore, it is especially important for the Ohrid Framework Agreement, the Prespa Agreement and the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria to be respected and to be well-prepared to apply the standards to perform our domestic tasks and the country to join the EU faster as we joined NATO.
Your leading idea in the parliamentary elections is the first Albanian Prime Minister, a proposal that has triggered a great deal of public controversy. You have promoted Naser Ziberi, as the party candidate for first Albanian Prime Minister. Why did you decide on this step now?
This project dates back to December 17, 2009 at the Congress, when Albanians were given 12 high state positions, from the president to the director of national security, and we acted step by step to realize all the issues we set. We have achieved Albanians to be appointed in leadership positions as defence minister, minister of interior, the speaker of parliament, the ombudsman, president of Supreme Court, of the Constitutional Court, and they were all successful, and that’s DUI’s strategy, and we don’t present internal strategies to see when we will open up issue that we’ve analyzed well and we consider the right moment when an idea will occur. We have found the right moment, when we earlier opened the issue of consensus president and worked on this idea with the greatest sincerity. I talked to both Macedonian parties at that time about this idea, but at that time, seven or eight years ago, there was no readiness about this idea, and we did not participate in that process and Ivanov was elected unilaterally. We challenged his one-sidedness because he did not prove himself to the community as a worthy representative of the state, and time has shown that our predictions have been confirmed.
We talked openly with the coalition partner in the last presidential elections and we have always thought even when (Gjorgje) Ivanov was elected, and when (Stevo) Pendarovski was elected, we talked openly with the partners at that time with (Nikola) Gruevski and (Zoran) Zaev even though he was in opposition at that time. And I was ready to create a partnership in regard to issue of a president, but there was no readiness and I proposed a specific name, i.e. a university professor, but there was no readiness. In regard to presidential elections, we suggested a person from academic life, there were several proposals, several names. We estimated that Pendarovski would be a more acceptable candidate and we were totally committed Pendarovski to receive the support which was the message to the citizens of the country, to the region and the international community. We have taken a step and now is the time to reciprocate in same way. We have taken these steps in this direction with the best intention, to send a message to the citizens and all people that the country is progressing only when communicate and cooperate with each other, and not when we are divided.
SDSM leader Zoran Zaev addressing rallies said that it is good for DUI to go in opposition in order to reform itself. However, he did not rule out a possible coalition with DUI after the elections, but only if you abandon the idea of an Albanian Prime Minister. What is your opinion about this?
I didn’t think this would scare my Macedonian colleague so much. DUI’s coming out and entering the race for prime minister surprised me and disappointed me of this hegemonic approach, when he said I am prime minister, no one else can be prime minister. It is an open competition, this is a legitimate right, a natural right, we are citizens of this country, we have our history here, we have our heritage here, we are co-owners of the country…When making such statements they may not be aware of what those statements actually contain, and I hope they will be reflected and that is not good. It is a hegemonic approach to say that I am giving you 13 parliamentary seats and form a minority government, so that you are not conditioned by the Albanians and that cannot be qualified otherwise than as an attempt to establish hegemony. We have to be very attentive, because we create the support, because we also respond to the demands of this country and we are together in this country to push the processes forward. It is also a good message for the countries of the region and neighbouring countries and international representatives.
The idea for first-ever Albanian Prime Minister is a good message for the region and the international community – that the Macedonians and also the Albanians, as the two largest ethnic groups, are protecting the interests of the country. This is for the benefit of all and the state, but we are not disappointed with these statements or claims, but we warn them to be careful, because such statements are dangerous, regardless of whether they really mean that. Someone may say it’s a campaign, but it’s hard for me to accept this so easily, because I’m surprised even by our members, that this DUI is supposedly using it to improve its image. DUI has no reason to improve its image, it does not need to enrich its history, because if there is a political party with longevity in this region, regardless of the fact that was created at the beginning of the 21st century, then it is DUI. It’s not so easy for Albanians to forget their history and NLA and DUI are bearers of history in two decades and the latest history of Albanians in Macedonia, organized in political movement so as to implement and materialize ideals and the missions of the national revival and of all the patriots who have made a great contribution to this country.
You are the first candidate on DUI’s list in the sixth electoral district. Your rivals in this electoral district are Mr. Sela and Mr. Kasami and the latter has formed an election coalition with your government partner, SDSM. What do you expect to happen as regards the distribution of votes, you’ve been raising the alarm about the Albanian voters being broken up into parts. Will it happen this time?
This is unfortunate, for several years I’ve been making efforts, sometimes even pleading with them, to prevent the Albanians being divided into many parties because we are losing seats, we are losing strength. Time have shown that my concerns were valid – four years ago, 29 seats the Albanians won in Parliament. The number was reduced to 20 seats. Back then, DUI hadn’t lost the elections, the Albanians lost nine seats. I think there will be consequences from us being divided, but it’s going to be a bit different than what it was in 2016 after the previous parliamentary polls. I believe our positions are sustainable, the Albanians are grateful, they appreciate what has been done. It doesn’t mean that all issues have been closed, there’s still a lot to be done. I think that with the capacities we have, the professionals DUI has, I’m deeply confident that we will succeed in representing the Albanians in all the institutions of the state.
In an interview with MIA, the Alliance for Albanians leader, Ziadin Sela called you and DUI ‘seasonal Albanians’ and described your bid for first Albanian PM as an attempt to keep the votes and an attempt to cushion the blow you’ll suffer in next week’s elections. Your comment?
I don’t know what he was referring to. To call DUI ‘seasonal’, it’s a groundless qualification. To win elections 18 years in a row, to win the trust of a majority of Albanians in the region, and yet Ziadin Sela in five years has recorded five shameful defeats, being beaten by DUI – in both local and parliamentary elections – and to be called ‘seasonal’… I don’t know, let the public have its say, let columnists and analysts say what they think…
DUI has been minding its business, doing its job without insults, without cursing. We don’t see what everybody else is doing. We don’t care what others think, we mind our own business.
In a speech to your supporters in Struga you said: “We’ve brought Skanderbeg, why not an Albanian PM, too”. You also said someone is afraid from the idea of an Albanian PM. Who’s afraid and why are they afraid from Albanian PM?
You shouldn’t look for too long to see who’s afraid. I’ve already said that Zoran and Hristijan’s knees were shaking, it was evident. Zoran told Hristijan: I’ll give your 13 seats for prime minister – the public saw it – VMRO-DPMNE can give me six seats to form minority government in order not to be conditioned by the Albanians with respect to prime minister.
This only suggests that they are afraid. If they weren’t panicking, this wouldn’t have dominated the campaign. The alarm was raised not to invite Mr. Ziberi in a TV face-off by the Macedonian TV stations. The national TV outlets in Macedonia were told that if Naser Ziberi was invited, Zoran Zaev would not come.
Why is this happening – allegedly, Mr. Ziberi is not MP candidate and therefore he cannot debate with the two candidates. Mr. Mickoski is not on the list for MP candidate, isn’t he? Do you see the injustice being done in the race for prime minister? Why Macedonians shouldn’t know about the projects and visions of Mr. Ziberi to lead this country? They should know. It’s no small thing, it’s no small race. It’s no small party, the party endorsing Mr. Naser Ziberi is an established party, it’s the cornerstone of this country.
What are your options for post-election coalition? You’ve drawn your red lines – you won’t accept to form coalition with those who don’t respect the Ohrid Accord, the Prespa Agreement and the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria. Does it mean that a coalition with VMRO-DPMNE is not an option?
We are a responsible party and we present the issues important to us to everyone. To us, the Ohrid Framework Agreement, the Prespa Agreement and the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria are the red lines. There’s no partnership if someone wants and tries to violate these agreements. These agreements have paved the way of the country for NATO membership, for the opening of negotiations with the EU. These agreements have relaxed the inter-ethnic relations in the country – they are the alpha and omega for peace, stability and security.
Anyone trying to violate these agreements cannot be our partner. We are very open and honest and we’ve warned on time.
So far, you haven’t commented on the civic concept “Society for All”. Do you think this could be the winning combination in the future?
We’ve all seen how sincere this concept was. The masks were taken off immediately after the campaign started. You promote this concept and you are part of TV debates where you are saying how many seats you will give out only to prevent Naser Ziberi from becoming prime minister. You make an inappropriate comparison even though Mickoski is not on the list for MP candidates and you try to sell this argument to the public (that Naser Ziberi is not on our list). This is why we are not debating, this is humiliation and an insult for us, the Albanians. We cannot even discuss the ‘society for all’ concept.
COVID-19 epidemic, adherence to health safety protocols, increased presence on social media to promote the program, etc, but direct meetings with the citizens are still being held. Aren’t you concerned that in these events, which should be held in line with the protocols, things could get out of control?
Regarding the epidemic, we’ve had doubts and we finally asked health experts to be consulted. After the experts presented in-depth analyses and the whole strategy, we gave the green light for the elections to be organized. I’m confident that there will be no consequences if the protocols are respected. The citizens should feel safe, because the health inspectorate and the experts have taken all the necessary measures.
A hypothetical question – How many seats do you wish to win in the parliamentary elections? Do you expect one-digit or two-digit number?
I don’t want to act the same as the leaders of the political parties who are winners… Everyone will win seats.
But, I promise DUI will win the elections. In all opinion polls, DUI has high rankings, the party has the support of the voters. I assure you the next win is not far away, it comes on July 15.
What’s your message to the readers and viewers of MIA?
I’m proud of the work you do, I see many important news that are cited by all Albanian media and their source is MIA. I wish you good health and success, but you need to increase the number of professionals. This is your job, your responsibility. The news I read in other regional media are really professional. But, this doesn’t mean you should stop, you should work harder and we also should work harder. We should never be satisfied with the work we do.
Thank you for your time.
Translated by Silvana Kochovska and Bisera Altiparmakova
Photos: Frosina Naskovikj
Video: Aslan Vishko