VIDEO INTERVIEW | Kostadinov asks for an apology for the insults and curses towards the Strumica diocese: It is impermissible to stifle the freedom of expression

Kostadin Kostadinov - Mayor of Strumica / Photo: "Sloboden Pechat" - Dragan Mitreski

The forum "Why not for sexual education in schools" which was held on March 17 at the Anton Panov House of Culture in Strumica, where the mayor of Strumica, Kostadin Kostadinov, was present at the invitation of the organizer, the Eleusa Foundation, and the speakers were prof. Dr. Venko Andonovski and the vicar bishop of Strumica Jakov Stobiski, caused an avalanche of reactions in the public, primarily from The platform for gender equality and from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy it only foreshadows a sharp debate and opposing views when the draft law on gender equality will be in the Parliament before the deputies. The proposed text is currently at ENER and according to the proposer MTSP should contribute to overcoming obstacles and shortcomings in the effective provision of equality and eliminating stereotypes by strengthening the position and status of women in society, equal access to resources and equal participation in the adoption of decisions in all spheres of social life.

After they were attacked the views of the Church the mayor of Strumica was also targeted for the proposal of the law on gender equality, which was said at the forum in Strumica, and qualified as "anti-women, anti-humanist, unconstitutional and direct interference of religion in the passing of laws, despite the declaration of Macedonia as a secular state" Kostadin Kostadinov.

- The accusations against me as the mayor and the Council of the Municipality of Strumica are absurd, only I appeared at a forum organized by the Eleusa Foundation and treated some topic. And it is their right to the Church to have its own position, just as it is the fundamental right of every person to have the opportunity to hear, to absolve it as a topic, to think about it and in the end to come to a conclusion and in the end to say it to himself or to don't tell your opinion. It really amazes because at one point I feel that it is an attempt to stifle the freedom of expression which is impermissible. My personal relationship as a believer who has his own spiritual father, whose name is Mr. I will not allow Jacob, who is the vicar bishop of the Strumica diocese, to be replaced just because I am currently the mayor. And it is very easy to understand, said Kostadinov in his appearance on the "Utrinski pechat" show.

The mayor of Strumica expects an apology for the insults expressed and emphasized that as mayor he will always attend other forums if he is invited, in order to hear other opinions on this topic.

- I expect such organizations that sent serious insults and curses to the Strumica Diocese and I expect them to at least apologize to the people of Strumica because if you see the coat of arms of the Municipality of Strumica you will see that on one side is the cross, and why is it there, because practically the day of the city when it is the biggest holiday for Strumica, December 11 – St. 15 Tiveriopol priest-martyrs. The largest temple and one of the most important temples in the country is the temple of St. Tiberiopolis priest-martyrs and we should take that into account. Views aside, aside from my personal opinion about the law, it is not the most important thing, but the form and treatment of where the mayor and councilors appeared or did not appear is an inadmissible matter. Nor will I allow anyone to treat my personal relationship with the Church or with other religions on such a public stage. We politicians are elected officials in elections. Our functions are transitory and changeable. The status and personal relationship that we spiritually establish with the church or with the spiritual father, that is the most intimate thing that exists in a person. It may be there, it may not be. I have it and I don't want it to be disturbed by anything. My right to hear and be present at all forums if those organizations organize their own forums in Strumica and invite me, I will show up to hear their opinion as well, that is the mayor's obligation, that is why we exist, said Kostadinov.

He added that he has too many obligations as the mayor of the Municipality of Strumica, so they have not yet considered the controversial proposed law, but he welcomed the initiative of Minister Trenčevska to open dialogue with the Strumica Diocese of the MOC-OA.

– The law is under consideration by ENER. I am encouraged by the fact that Minister Jovana Trenchevska wants to talk with the Strumica Diocese in order to overcome differences or misunderstandings, but at the same time if we have tribunes, I as mayor and as a person together with the councilors, with the municipal administration because we want to hear what they think someone who disagrees with a certain legal solution, repeated Kostadinov.

Regarding the initiative to introduce sex education in schools, he said that this is also a subject that should be discussed.

- Of course, that should be discussed. That is why such an uproar arose in society, which is healthy. Debate is healthy. We will also debate, we will review the legal solutions and we will adopt a final position, said Kostadinov.

In the following, Kostadinov spoke about the projects he implemented during his mayoral mandate of almost a year and a half. According to him, 40 percent of the program has already been implemented, part is in the design phase, part is in the implementation phase, and there are also unstarted projects.

- It is important that we have the contours of the mandate, so we have already implemented what were fundamental election promises. Such is the case with the sports complex, which is surrounded by a skate park, which is at the request of the young people of Strumica. It is a special challenge to manage the city in an economic and energy crisis. The needs of the people of Strumica to get public transport is in the stage of preparation of the technical specification so that we can announce a public procurement and for Strumica to be the first city in the region to have fully electrified public transport. The message is very clear, our projects are in accordance with the European Green Agreement and with European and world standards for the implementation of public transport, said Kostadinov.

He also spoke about the newly built bicycle paths, the city station where stray dogs are taken care of, as well as about the projects for the young people in the city.

Watch the entire conversation with Kostadin Kostadinov in the video:


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