Gruevski: Knowledge, skills and standards to bring progress

How do you assess the relations with the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI)?

We are trying to be good.

Is that all? It seems unconvincing…

We have misunderstandings. For some problems we find solutions for some we do not. The relations with the DUI in the first and the second mandate are not the same. As long as we have trend of improving the standards in all spheres, there will be logic of our coalition. It is our mission as politicians. Reforms should be conducted for the wellbeing of everyone regardless if someone is Macedonian, Albanian, Turk, Serb, Roma, Bosniak, Vlach or Christian, Muslim or atheist.

What do you mean when you say improvement of standards?

I mean laws, decisions, measures, reforms to be implemented by which the citizens will feel better, and their problems will be solved. There will be more opportunities, whether it is more professional administration, more independent judiciary, more independent and more efficient inspections, more rightful grading, fairer gaining of titles based on knowledge and skills, labour and work and not corruption or party interventions. There will never be an ideal society but our goal is to strive towards this and to move forward. To create measures that will help patients, to introduce equity in paying the doctors, judges, prosecutors, teachers, professors, diplomats, etc.

Which of the mentioned issues you have succeeded to move forward?

The external testing in primary and secondary schools is the beginning of the end of the era that unjustly ruled in the ‘90’s together with the transition and newly rich persons who wanted to correct the grades of their children by pressures to teachers. I do not think that everything went well in the first year of the external testing but it is an irretrievable process and it can only be advanced.

It is similar with the pay-as-work in the health sector. We are building a society with higher standards and values. This measure also has weaknesses. There is no ideal system, especially in the health sector. We have faced with severe critics and attacks. Standards are changing, the best are awarded and those with lower efficiency are encouraged to improve. Now we are committed to additional training of doctors. There is no good health sector if new world trends are not followed.

The Health Minister and I are making arrangements for medical training worldwide. They have already started. At least 500 medical staff will be trained abroad. This year around 300 medical staff left abroad for training. At the beginning a resistance existed about this as well. But now the things have changed and I am happy about this.

This will reduce the number of patients to be treated abroad. A number of methods which were not practiced in Macedonia are now learnt at trainings and are practiced. It saves us money. We have also introduced a law which foresees that everyone who must go abroad for a medical treatment will not have to pay more than EUR 200. The law entered into force this year.

Economic diplomacy will be our main weapon

We have also changed several things regarding the diplomats. It is not enough one only to know English language and to become a diplomat. Diplomats are not translators, knowing a foreign language is only a precondition. They should have several abilities, skills, knowledge and experience. We are more oriented towards economic diplomacy. The Foreign Minister introduced new standards who he personally practiced in the European Commission, demanding diplomats and employees in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to present concrete results mainly economic ones, mainly for those who are abroad.

Do you think that the changes in the law on abortion were also improvement of standards?

Absolutely they were. It is about the rights of the woman to have all information prior to making a final decision on abortion. However, as a government we failed to adequately communicate with the citizens in this regard. The media, the Parliament and even our coalition partners reacted negatively regarding this law without prior reading and analyzing it. NGOs financed by the Open Society Foundation saw this as a chance to attack us supposing on our weak communication that we have towards this law and towards its characteristic sensitivity.

Do you support the new law on bar examination proposed by a group of parliamentarians?

I absolutely support it. This law will really improve the standards and will put an order in this sphere. This law eliminates any possibility to be passed without knowledge or without learning. Everything is computer-guided. The exam is shot and broadcasted live on the website of the Ministry of Justice. This law will also lead us to a society of knowledge, skills and justice while taking the exam.

Why do you insist so much on this phrase, society of knowledge and skills?

Because Macedonia is a small country, without natural resources, without oil or gas deposits, without nuclear warheads which provide power and without sea beaches that can bring billions of tourists as is it a case in some countries. Our success can only be based on knowledge and skill, investment in minds and knowledge of the citizens. Our chance is here for long-term success. That’s why successful countries and societies are those that are based on knowledge, innovation, entrepreneurship, scientific achievements and education.

Let’s get back where we started, and we started with DUI and Albanians…

No. We started with DUI. Albanians are other topic. If we have misunderstandings with DUI this does not mean that we have misunderstanding with all Albanians.

Still, DUI demands additional issues in regard to the use of the Albanian language…

I think that some politicians wishing to gain political points at their electorate forget certain essential things. Albanians in Macedonia start to learn the Macedonian language in the fourth grade, while the English language in the first grade. There is a resistance both languages to be learnt in the first grade. On the other hand, Macedonian students can learn electively the Albanian language at school but almost no one is doing this. Politicians are silent in this regard because they do not want to lose political points.

Will you allow your children to learn the Albanian language?

Absolutely. Not only that I will allow it, but I will encourage them. Besides the English language, knowing the Albanian language is an advantage. Learning foreign languages is a treasure. The more languages you know the more of a person you are, as the old saying reads.

Don’t you think that many of your supporters will make remarks on this?

I have said that I say what I mean, but I also have a choice to do it otherwise. But, the openness is my choice. I am aware that there are prejudices and resistance regarding this issue.

Is this a change in your positions?

No, I have always meant the same. I have addressed the Albanian citizens at many events in Albanian language. It is an expression of respect for these people. I think that Albanian political leaders in Macedonia pay more attention to quantity of seats of the officials rather than to quality of the personnel. The quality will improve the entire society and not only an ethnic group.

Why didn’t you react on LDP’s call to condemn the use of violence against homosexuals?

LDP is a party which has failed to gain confidence of the citizens even for a single member of the Parliament at the latest parliamentary elections. From here on we are not lead by their assessment and calls but by our evaluations. We as a political party do not support violence. There is violence in every country and the police’s job is to resolve it and through the judiciary to sanction violence.

So you do not support violence against this group?

I do not support violence either against them or anyone else. Violence has never solved anything.

Bishop Pimen’s words were directed towards your party although before becoming a bishop he was an activist of VMRO-DPMNE.

I have heard that Bishop Pimen was an activist in the youth organization when Ljubco Georgievski was the president of VMRO-DPMNE. But I have never heard that he was a supporter of VMRO-DPMNE since 2003 when the new leadership came to power. On the contrary, I have heard about his closeness and his support to Zaev, which was clearly said in his interviews, where he said that Macedonian Orthodox Church in Strumica had much closer cooperation with SDSM than with VMRO, which is normal right to a free choice.

I think that Bishop Pimen has a problem that he was a bishop in the Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church for years but a few people knew him and he was obviously burdened by anonymity. I think that he lacks visibility on how the wider public to acquaint him and when he saw this chance, he was on the media controlled by the opposition for entire week.

I think that he has accumulated frustration partially because of this treatment in the Macedonian Orthodox Church and towards us as a political party. He will not be the first and the last that we have helped anytime we can and he slandered us. Such is the life and some people.