In an interview for IBNA news agency, deputy PM of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Musa Xhaferri talks about the institutional and political developments in the country. What were the challenges of the governing coalition during 2014 and other issues that are seen as the main priorities in the country. Musa Xhaferri is senior official of Albanian party BDI (Democratic Union for Integration), the second largest party of the governing coalition.
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti/IBNA
IBNA: It’s been six months since BDI entered a governing coalition with VMRO-DPMNE, but this has been a situation of a political crisis due to the opposition boycott. How satisfied are you from the current governing?
Deputy PM Xhaferri: As a government, we started the implementation of the government program immediately after the June elections. So far, we have implemented important projects and other projects of a capital importance are under way. They are mainly related to road infrastructure, but the government program also includes Albanian projects proposed by our political subject. So far there have been around 100 projects in place, mainly in the municipalities and communes with an Albanian majority population. Our efforts continue in order to address issues that relate to the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. This implies the advancement of the issues that concern Albanians. There are also efforts for the process of the integration of the country in Euro Atlantic structures. As far as the opposition boycott is concerned, we encourage and cultivate political dialogue, as a democratic mechanism of overcoming political obstacles and other aspects.
IBNA: But, this coalition continues to face disagreements between the two largest parties. How do you see the relations within the governing coalition?
Deputy PM Xhaferri: Relations within the coalition are normal. Of course there are disagreements about the fact that there are different points of view and because we’re talking about two large parties with different programs, there must be a joint program which must consist of a single document that binds these political forces during the term in office. Of course, there are different viewpoints on other topics too. There will be a debate and there is a debate, but like in every other coalition, solutions must be found through compromise.
IBNA: One of the disagreements that you didn’t mention relates to the massive employments that are being made by VMRO-DPMNE of PM Gruevski. Some say that this is putting in danger the representation of Albanians in the state administration. There’s a problem with the fact that institutions that are led by Macedonians do not recruit Albanians. What do you have to say on this?
Deputy PM Xhaferri: We’re making constant efforts for fair and adequate representation. We have raised the serious issue of employments, by demanding mechanisms to be put in place for them to stop. Now, state institutions have started to prepare annual plans for fair representation according to the new law on public servants. Meanwhile, fresh laws of the administration foresee the cancellation of the contest if the principle of fair representation has not been respected. If an institution needs to employ members of communities and if this principle has not been complied with in a contest, then the latter needs to be cancelled. As far as the fact that Albanian employees have not been accepted is concerned, there will be sanctions for all of those heads of institutions that block the process of employment.
IBNA: The Ohrid Agreement is considered as the fundamental document for the stability of the country in the cross ethnic and political aspect, but so far, there have been disagreements and reactions for its failure of implementation…
Deputy PM Xhaferri: We’re in the second decade of the Ohrid Agreement since this document was signed in 2001, by putting an end to a conflict. This agreement is an obligation and a strategic priority for the country. On the other hand, it’s also a responsibility that must be fulfilled. The Ohrid Agreement is a condition for the integration of the country in Euro Atlantic structures and this has been identified as a priority by international community. We continue to implement all the points and issues that stem from this agreement, but on the other hand, we’re also aware of the obstacles and difficulties. The process of the full implementation is very important, because this secures stability, less tension and a strong foundation in the Euro Atlantic integration path.
IBNA: What are the engagements of the government in the aspect of regional cooperation and good neighboring relations?
Deputy PM Xhaferri: The government is engaged for good neighboring relations with all countries, because good neighboring relations and regional cooperation are a prerequisite for the integration of the country in the European Union. The priorities of this government in terms of cooperation with the neighbors also relate to the economic, commercial aspect and the implementation of projects that have a capital importance. We’re committed to building Corridor 8 and to having complete infrastructural ties with the neighbors. One of the projects is the Road of Arber that links our country with Albania, but another major project is also the railway link alongside Corridor 8, where works have started in the northern side that links us to Bulgaria to continue with the other neighbor, Albania. This process has started and will be completed. As a government, we have concrete development projects and close economic and commercial cooperation with the countries of the region.
IBNA: Another issue is that of the name dispute with neighboring Greece. This dispute has blocked the country in the Euro Atlantic integration aspect. Are there hopes for a solution?
Deputy PM Xhaferri: As part of the government, BDI has made all efforts with the international community in order to accelerate the solution of the name dispute, an obstacle which is keeping Macedonia outside of NATO. We have made maximum efforts in order to play it in our favor by establishing contacts with European countries and USA in order to come up with a suitable climate for dialogue or compromise between the two countries. We believe that this is the only path and the only alternative for our country that aspires to become part of NATO and EU. /ibna/