Skopje, 10 July 2020 (MIA) – A functional state, a state where the courts, prosecution and police will work in the people’s, not the criminals’ interest. Stolen assets back to the people, one election district and open lists, reduced number of MPs, world-class health, economy, education, science, innovations. Elderly, poor, those with special needs, single parents to receive assistance, an environment with clear air. These are some of the pledges of political party Democrats, presented by leader Jorgo Ognenovski in an interview with MIA.
“We are against national political parties, we do not recognize Macedonian, Albanian, Bosniak, we say parties in Macedonia should be parties of Macedonia, in which everyone should take part. These people’s parties should work for the well-being of all citizens and the state,” says Ognenovski.
If Democrats gets an opportunity after the elections, it would build ten smaller modern clinical centers across the country so that citizens should not be forced to come to Skopje, since it is sometimes a matter of minutes and seconds to save a life. On economy, he says it is important to build plants and companies that produce a final product.
According to him, there is a criminal political structure in the country that has infected the judiciary, the police, the customs, the prosecution.
Ognenovski expects citizens to come out and vote for quality, honest and educated people who are not politicians and did not take part in any way in the country’s ravaging.
The election campaign is nearing its end. There are a few more days to present your programmes before voters. Could you briefly list the five key things that you believe will attract people’s votes?
Number one, Democrats wants to create a functional state. What does this mean? Our political system is, in a way, legalized criminal political system. For example, the electoral model needs to be changed by having one election district with open lists, because people would have total freedom to choose quality, not a number of a political party. Of course, political crime as the most dangerous form of crime that stimulates other types of crime should be uprooted. The most important issue is economy. Young people are leaving the country in masses. The World Bank has said that thousands of young and adult citizens have left the country over the past decades. You cannot live without economy. Health, education, science, innovations, infrastructure, environment, welfare cannot operate without economy. There is talk about increase of pensions but how will they rise if there is no money? We must create this economy, enable employment and high standard. Environment is another aspect. Why? Because you can have all the money in the world, your country can be the most beautiful place in the world, but if you are poisoned by polluted air you die. A lot of people get sick, some unfortunately die. Welfare is also important. We have to create a system in which we do not depend on asking someone over the phone to help a single mother, a sick or elderly person, people with special needs etc. The current situation regarding people with special needs is disastrous. Finally, a powerful foreign policy is also needed. We should not allow to be stomped on or being dictated. We are a sovereign country and we know, by both international and national law, that no one can tell us how to call ourselves, what history we have, because no one can change this. Of course, the domestic policy should be exclusively in the interest of the people and the state.
Can you tell us the major project you will focus on if you get an opportunity after the elections?
We have several big projects and I will mention one. For example, a mammoth clinical center in Skopje is contemplated, worth EUR 500 million and more. We will build ten smaller modern clinical centers across the country so that citizens should not be forced to come to Skopje, since it is sometimes a matter of minutes and seconds to save a life. Three clinical centers in Skopje, because people travel from one edge of the city to the other. We will not allow the construction of this clinical center that the ruling authorities have pushed for years. And of course, this is a lie, manipulating the citizens as they have done for the past 30 years.
Economy will be the biggest challenge in the coming period considering the effects of the corona-crisis. What projects does your party offer for improvement of the economic situation?
Very simple. I graduated economics, worked and lived in the United States, I owned two film production companies that distributed movies in Hollywood, but also worked at the stock exchange. Therefore, I have vast experience in this field. There is no progress without economy. We first have to offer something to Macedonia and the world. Output is key. We need to build plants. We Democrats say – let’s build. We will not wait for foreign investors. They have been giving EUR 200-300 in wages to our people for 10-15 years. Democrats offer a minimum wage today, not tomorrow. We are offering a manufacturing economy, for example in agriculture. We must build 30-40 smaller plants for final products. This country has only been robbed over the past 30 years and we say that the state should be governed by people of quality. We have many of those in Macedonia, who are left on the sidelines. Therefore, plants, production facilities, tourism, this is where the investments should go, not on rubbish such as ‘Skopje 2014’.
A non-specific campaign in specific circumstances amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you promote the party during the campaign, and do you observe the protocols if and when holding direct meetings with citizens?
We stick to the protocols as much as we can. We go in smaller groups of 5-10 people, wearing masks. We also have smaller groups of citizens at our meetings. If some of them do not wear a mask we tell them to keep their distance if they want to attend the event. We observe the protocols to the maximum. Besides the brief ads at TV stations, we are also active on social media, web-portals and radio. Unfortunately, we have a legalized criminal electoral code, a system where the big parties have adopted a law according to which 90 percent of the budget funds are allocated to them, while smaller parties get 10 percent. The same goes for TV ads.
Do you think there is a lot of fake news and dirty propaganda instead of a higher level of political and proper presentation of your plans?
Our campaign is fair and we always tell the truth, be it an old or new party, ruling or not. There are 15 parties that have offered their MP candidates. We always say that the CVs of the party leader and the party officials should always be available so that people can make the right decision when voting. Unfortunately, most of the parties include in their ranks former advisors, MPs, mayors, ministers and even PMs. And they all have been, more or less, taking part in the destruction of the people over the past 29 years. Democrats must tell the truth. We do not use dirty propaganda and fake news, but this is unstoppable and comes from the big parties, who are continually blaming each other who stole more. But no one has been arrested until now. The Supreme Court but also judges in other courts hide cases in drawers so that their statute of limitations expires. There is a criminal political structure in the country that has infected the judiciary, the police, the customs, the prosecution.
DUI has presented its idea of a first Albanian PM, promoting Naser Ziberi as their candidate. What is your opinion on DUI’s strategy and what will this mean for the Albanian voters in the country?
I often say that DUI and Ali Ahmeti are throwing a bait to Albanian voters, in order to create a nationalist tension by telling people that an Albanian must be a PM. I say, Albanian, Macedonian, Turk, Bosniak, Vlach, Serb, all nationalities living here, anyone can be a President or Prime Minister of this country, but this must be earned. Citizens are the ones who give their trust. This is achieved at elections. DUI cannot say we are the Albanian bloc and the same goes for the Macedonian bloc. We need to work for all citizens, regardless of nationality and religion. We are against national political parties, we do not recognize Macedonian, Albanian, Bosniak, we say parties in Macedonia should be parties of Macedonia, in which everyone should take part. These people’s parties should work for the well-being of all citizens and the state.
What are your expectations from the coming elections, your coalition options?
These are our first elections as a party, Democrats has been in existence for a year and eight months. We have been entirely blocked by national media and other outlets. There are other parties that have been established 1-2 years ago and they are invited at political debates, but there is no place for Democrats there. But we cannot be stopped and therefore I urge citizens to come out and vote for quality, honest and educated people who are not politicians and did not take part in any way in the country’s ravaging. Democrats is the only people’s party in Macedonia, carrying no burden, because I worked abroad for 20-30 years and I do not know anything about politics. I can never be a politician but now I am forced to do this for the well-being of the people, who decide how many MP seats we will get. Every vote for the ruling parties of the past 29 years is a vote against your children, grandchildren, fellow citizens, Macedonia.
Your message for the citizens?
I call on citizens to join Democrats in creating a functional state, where courts, prosecution and police will work in the people’s, not the criminals’ interest. Stolen assets back to the people, one election district and open lists, reduced number of MPs, world-class health, economy, education, science, innovations. Elderly, poor, those with special needs, single parents to receive assistance, an environment with clear air. Let’s start living the normal life we deserve. Vote Democrats, choose number 2.
Photo: Darko Popov
Video: Andrej Brankovikj
Translation: Ivan Kolekjevski