CIVIL conference: Macedonia in the EU, challenges and perspectives

Anna Chupeska at the Civil Conference/Photo: CIVIL

Several professors and experts debated at the conference organized by CIVIL "#MKvoEU: Challenges and perspectives".

Professor Ana Cupesca spoke about the aspects of the constitutional changes that should unfreeze the European integration process.

"It is most desirable to unfreeze the negotiations with the EU, and for that to happen, the constitutional amendments must be adopted, we all know. How could we open Chapter 23 and finish them, in terms of negotiating the foundations with the EU" said Professor Ana Chupeska at the conference "#MKvoEU: Challenges and Perspectives" organized by Civil.

She added that the Foundations cluster contains all the things that are needed for the rights of the members of the communities, linked to the Copenhagen criteria, which are explicitly stated in the negotiation framework.

"You must follow the clearly indicated directions additionally addressed in terms of human rights and freedoms from the negotiation framework, and here one detail is very important from it, and that is the action plan for the national minority, that is, for the rights of members of citizens who belong to different communities , it has already been prepared with international and our expertise and is based on the basic principles, recommendations that are contained in the framework convention from the advisory committee of the framework convention for minority rights at the Council of Europe from the recommendations sent by ECRI as well as the progress reports, so that are the three relevant documents, references on the basis of which this action plan was drawn up," said Cupesca.

The professor added that all national strategic documents related to equality, human rights and freedoms in terms of integration, implementation of the strategy for interculturalism, for the Roma, anti-discrimination, etc. should also be implemented.

Cupesca added that it is a fundamental minimum that should be done, but expressed concern that political subjects will neglect these essential things that are ahead of us, such as the problem with the adoption of constitutional amendments.

At the conference, Professor Sefer Tahiri referred to the public broadcasting service, which he said is not balanced but is more at the service of the opposition.

"We have a public broadcasting service which, unfortunately, is not balanced and as a model which, I say again, is paradoxical, unique, it is put, among other things, at the service of the opposition, and I think it should be balanced public service" said professor Sefer Tahiri at the conference "#MKvoEU: Challenges and perspectives" organized by Civil.

He added that the publication of the IPIS survey results shows the state of the public service.

"So, we have answers from the public service in which the director says that the survey was carried out by two research institutions. One of those who was called, Petar Arsovski, comes out, who says that I was not involved in the preparation of the poll," Tahiri said.

The professor added that the public service is not even able to say how the results of the survey were arrived at.

Professor Katerina Kolozova referred to education, economy and technological innovations that should bring progress to the country.

"Cluster 3 entitled "Inclusive growth" affects the economy and with that cluster the EU is telling us that it requires an immanent connection of education with industry, that is, higher education, it requires research universities, their direct connection with the economy and economic growth," said Professor Katerina Kolozova at the conference "#MKvoEU: Challenges and perspectives" organized by Civil.

She added that the president of the European Commission also said that her geostrategic edge is an economy based on technological, scientific and other innovation, in terms of progress for a race with China and the United States.

"If you are economically competitive, because you have a technology that no one can compete with, you become planetary competitive, that's how the redefined Europe demands that we in the Western Balkans redefine ourselves and the fund it allocated for all of us in November 2020 through IPARD 3 is to realign ourselves on this path of development and according to this concept of development," Kolozova said.

The professor added that no one in the region is doing that yet, but any future government should develop policies in that direction.

Aleksandar Novakovski, who chaired the working group for reforms in electoral legislation at the "#MKvoEU: Challenges and perspectives" conference, believes that the state should create conditions for fair and democratic elections, and no one can deny that.

"The state created the conditions for fair and democratic elections, that's indisputable and no one can deny that, maybe like never before, we see that everyone can express their campaigns and their opinions and their views and who sends more TV and media so there is no restriction in terms of expressing one's views" said Aleksandar Novakovski and added that the elections will be democratic, but added that it is possible that the turnout in the elections will be low.

Regarding the election silence on Tuesday, the day before the presidential elections, which will only apply to them, but not to the parliamentary elections, Novakovski said that it is a nebula.

"All countries are fighting for the census, to increase the census for the sake of the legitimacy of the electoral process and the bodies that are elected. Unfortunately, we have not reached the stage where voting can be done by mail, at least as a first step if we are not ready for electronic voting, but no one has opened it either, and that is why we see from the Diaspora how low the turnout is and how many are registered Novakovski said.

The National Coordinator for the Open Balkans and regional initiatives, Marjan Zabrchanec, emphasized that the Open Balkans and the Berlin Process are complementary and prepare the countries for EU membership.

"Open Balkans and the Berlin process, I must emphasize that they are complementary to each other, above all according to their goals, they even have similar projects. A project started in one initiative, was taken up in another and carried out to the end and vice versa, experiences were drawn and those two initiatives complemented each other and the most important thing perhaps is that in one and in the other three countries are identical", said Zabrchanec.

National coordinator of Open Balkans Marjan Zabrchanec at the Civil conference/Photo: CIVIL

He added that it is the same Macedonia, the same Serbia and the same Albania that participate in both the Open Balkans and the Berlin Process, and therefore rejects malicious speculations that the Open Balkans should have been an alternative to the Berlin Process or an alternative to the EU.

"Both initiatives are preparing the country and the region for EU membership. If Berlinski brought us cooperation between young people through RYCO, Open Balkans brought us green lanes at border crossings so that transporters can pass faster and business can go better in the three countries. If Berlinski brought us cheaper roaming, Open Balkans brought us contactless electronic toll collection for a faster flow of vehicles. "If Berlinski brought recognition of diplomas and qualifications, Open Balkans brought realization of work permits as a condition for greater mobility on the labor market," emphasized Zabrchanec.

He added that there cannot be too much freedom and too much regional cooperation, but the abandonment of regional initiatives will not bring anything new except new walls, impatience, hot nationalist passions and narratives, but also a reduction in economic activity between states.

The director of CIVIL Jabir Derala spoke about the Russian influence in Macedonia in politics and in the media, and therefore among the citizens.

"Macedonian oligarchs have close ties to Russia, given their significant political influence and ownership of most of the country's mainstream media, Russian disinformation campaigns have unabated and unfettered access to Macedonian public discourse and have the ability to shape public opinion, as, according to the interests of the Kremlin, of course," said Jabir Derala from Civil.

He added that a cyber and information war has also been waged against the country since the beginning of the civil movement for democratization, starting in 2013.

"From 2013, when we saw Olympic electoral rounds in the local elections in Skopje, ending with the Colorful Revolution, which was preceded by the bombs from the wiretapped conversations and the 'Truth for Macedonia' project," Derala said.

He added that there must be an unmasking of Russia's influence in the country and that the cards should be opened more directly about how Russia influences the civil sector in the country.

"Pro-Russian civil society organizations often engage in activities that undermine Western-oriented policies and reinforce alternative viewpoints on issues such as NATO membership and EU integration. Since these civil organizations are often beneficiaries of Western grants, their activities are said to be indirectly aimed at criticizing government policies or covering up their nationalist views and attitudes with balanced reporting on anti-Russian narratives, up to what we have seen recently and where there were several significant analyzes done in the country - denying the Russian intrusion into the country," Derala said.

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