For the last five years Macedonia has registered the highest annual GDP growth and foreign investments inflow in spite of the most serious global economic crisis. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski says in an interview with the weekly 'Kapital'.
Macedonia's Government has been doing its best to bolster the economic development. In the first half of 2011 the GDP growth was at 5,2 percent, which means that Macedonia is returning to the pre-crisis level of economic growth. Maybe the results could have been better, but considering the circumstances on the ground, we should be satisfied. Regardless of the imposed name problem, we shall keep applying our policies and realizing the projects we have promised to citizens, which will certainly contribute to higher growth rates and better living standard of citizens, Gruevski says.
The reforms produce results, recognized also by the World Bank's Doing Business report, which ranks Macedonia on the 22nd place and putting it in the company of countries with highly developed economic, market structure, the PM says.
For several years Macedonia has been a leader in the SEE region, but the last report put 19 EU and many other developed countries behind us, the PM says.
"The results are also confirmed by the inflow of direct foreign investments for the first seven months of 2011 - EUR 167 million - more than the total FDI amount in 2010 - EUR 159 million. For the last three months only about five-six large Greenfield investments of US, Indian, Russian and Italian companies have been launched in the free economic zones. They will boost the production, export and open thousands of new jobs," Gruevski says.
Referring to the budget structure, Gruevski says that funds for capital investments have been gradually increased. In the 2011 budget they have been higher for 30 percent in comparison to the previous year. Few years ago the Government has launched a large investing cycle, allocating finally more funds for construction of local, regional roads, water supplying, sewerage systems, clinics, schools and cultural projects.
Gruevski is satisfied with the relations between the Government and the private sector. The Government is aware that the private sector is vital for the functioning of the state, so it is very important for it to be powerful and in good shape.
Commenting the developments in Europe, Gruevski says he is moderately optimistic due to the clear commitment of the European leaders to the survival of the monetary union.
"Macedonia cannot influence on developments in Europe, but the Government has been closely monitoring the situation, being ready in every moment to take the necessary measures for mitigating the negative consequences. The Government has thus far demonstrated its capacity to deal with crisis situations by designing and implementing appropriate economic policies. In this respect I am in particular referring to the four packages of anti-crisis measures, which helped Macedonia's economy to successfully surpass the consequences of the global economic crisis," the PM says.
Referring to the name dispute, Gruevski said it was an issue which was being approached by state officials with commitment and accountability. "Facts suggest that despite our sincere intention and willingness to overcome this challenge, at the moment the southern neighbour (Greece) shows no interest to tackle the issue. I understand why up to a point - they are facing major issues, financial crisis, nationwide strikes, state bankruptcy, riots, the situation is very tense. What I cannot understand are country's accusations that Macedonia isn't trying hard enough to solve the challenge. This is incorrect, lacks principles and hinders the establishment of trust. Pressure is also being exerted within European Union structures making the Union to take measures which are not welcomed by the people in Macedonia," the PM says urging stereotypes to be overcome and neighbourly ties to be formed with enthusiasm, rationality and courage.
He stressed that in EU's history, most of the countries accessing the organisation have faced an issue with a country member. "In most cases, talks aiming at solving an issue and membership negotiations had been held at the same time. This practice has always yielded positive results with successfully concluding both of the processes," Gruevski says.
"Unfortunately, the EU has changed its approach in relation to Macedonia's case after being pressed by Greece. Contrary to what has been applied before, progress in the two parallel lines has been hampered. Nevertheless, we'll keep on making utmost efforts to find a solution, even though we are facing obvious injustice on daily basis," the PM notes.
Premier Gruevski underlines that Macedonia's strategic goal is EU and NATO membership, which is being affirmed by actions and facts. "The proof for this are the reforms that are being implemented, but mostly of all the European values, which are being nourished. These values equally belong to the citizens of Europe, including Macedonians," Gruevski states.
"Allegedly, Macedonia is seeking new alternative (in terms of EU-NATO integration). If this was true, we would have presented our arguments... My reaction after the European Commission progress report on Macedonia was presented with the omission of the adjective "Macedonian", intended to defend the dignity of the nation, the state and national interest. Macedonia's entire society reacted afterwards, which means it is just. The EU tackles internal criticism and opens dialogue on various issues. Thus I find it a little bit odd that some structures in Macedonia tend to translate every criticism or different point of view into new state policy or strategic plan, being some kind of "heresy" to have an opinion that differs from that of an EU official."
This, the PM adds, limits the ability to voice one's own stance, which was habitual for a past era, which has hopefully ended with the establishment of democracy and multi-partisan regime.
"Unfortunately, socialism is over, but its spirit is deeply rooted within us. There is a popular proverb dating back from the Ottoman era - a bowed head cannot be cut off by a sword. To this day many people apply this approach, which limits the country's progress, creates hurdles, frustration, social conflicts... I believe that a sword can cut off a bowed head," PM Nikola Gruevski says in an interview with the weekly.