VIDEO INTERVIEW | Arben Taravari: I will not ask for amnesty or abolition, only for justice to come to the surface, innocent people not to lie in prison

Arben Taravari, presidential candidate from VREDI/Photo: Sloboden Pechat/Dragan Mitreski

The current mayor of Gostivar Arben Taravari and candidate for president from the opposition coalition VREDI published the election program for the presidential elections called "Unifying" in four languages: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish and English so that the citizens could read and understand his vision for the presidency. He advocates for constitutional changes by the end of the year so that Macedonia can continue the European integration process.

- The program is called "Unifying Program", which is very important to me because this is a multi-ethnic country and we need to be united, for the good of the country, for all of us, because we all live here, we are here together and there is no escaping it. The program is based on four main pillars. The first is the European Union, the second is the Rule of Law, the third is State Security and Safety, and the fourth is Consensual Democracy. The first pillar is the most important: first of all and above all, it is very important for Macedonia to continue the European path because we have no other option, we have no other alternative, and our citizens are also talking about it. We have a migration that is already going through an exodus. Over 800.000 citizens have left in the last 13 years, and that is more than a third of the citizens who live in Macedonia, and if we ask where these citizens who leave Macedonia go, 99,9 percent go to European countries. So, they show us that we, as a country, should also follow that path. In order to do that, we have conditions, a framework which is constitutional changes, and without that we cannot start the negotiations and I hope we will finish them by 2030, says Arben Taravari in an interview with "Sloboden Pechat". 

He believes that on the Macedonian political scene, almost all parties are pro-European with rare exceptions, so he believes in their support for the implementation of the constitutional amendments.

- If I am elected president, I guarantee that the first visit will be to Brussels, where I would ask for guarantees, as given for Kosovo, from Mogherini of Ashton that these are the last conditions for Macedonia. So we will vote on the framework, but let there be other conditions, ecology, justice, economy, but not politically, and I hope that they can set such a precedent with one resolution in the USA, in Brussels, in other European countries, some kind of guarantee that it will not there are some other obstacles for Macedonia, says Taravari.

When asked if he would also go to Sofia because of guarantees that there will be no new conditions on the country's European path from the Bulgarian side, he answered in the affirmative.

-Why not. I think we should have equidistance and good relations with all our neighbors. So somehow it bothers the country that it has excellent relations with Belgrade and bad relations with Sofia. Fantastic relations with Pristina and Tirana and neutral relations with Athens. I think that we should have good relations with all our neighbors, without allowing any influence from neighboring countries, and of course I would visit Sofia to show flexibility because we all live together here and they have a Bulgarian minority that lives in Macedonia and for it is much better for them, for the Bulgarians living in Macedonia, for Skopje to have good relations with Sofia. The second guarantee that I would ask from the future mandate holder, as a future president, is to give me some kind of guarantee about the dynamics of constitutional changes, so that 2008 does not happen to us after Bucharest, when together with Albania and Croatia we were supposed to be part of NATO, and then we needed more 10 years to spend time to be a member of NATO and that with much worse conditions than in 2008. I think that at least in 6 months the constitutional changes should be implemented with certain guarantees that we would receive from Brussels, Taravari is decisive.

Asked about the second pillar of the presidential program which refers to the rule of law and whether it provides for pardons or amnesty for what he says are "politically mounted cases", which is within the powers of the president of the country, Taravari emphasizes that it refers exclusively to achieving justice for individuals who are innocent and lie in prisons.

- Nowhere do I say pardons or abolitions. I would insist that justice be done. So I am not asking for amnesty and abolition of anyone, but justice. You remember very well when Mr. Zaev's conversations were eavesdropped, I have not heard them. He publicly said that there are conversations in which it is mentioned that these people who are in prison because of "Monster" are not guilty at all, and if that is the case, then it is a shame that someone is sitting in prison and is not guilty of it. We know from the intercepted conversations about the "Alfa" case that the people were not guilty, there is already evidence. They don't need abolition, for someone to forgive them, but for justice to come to the surface. Another case is the "Sopot" case. You remember the conversation between Sasho Mijalkov and Gordana Jankulovska when they say that people are innocent, lying in prison. These are not nice things. Here I do not mean only ethnic Albanians, surely there are such fabricated cases for Macedonians as well. "Absolutely only that justice should come to the surface and if the people are innocent, it is a shame that they remain in prison," says Taravari.

If he is elected president of the country, he will commit to the government adopting a package of measures for vetting in the justice system, vetting for politicians and a code of conduct and monitoring of politicians who are active in politics.

- It is not under the authority of the president, however, the president is an authority who receives trust from the sovereign citizen and has the right to actualize certain topics, Taravari said.

For the fourth pillar of the program – Consensus democracy, clarifies that this concept exists but needs to be developed, because reductionism reigns in society, majoritarianism and must be thought in the direction of a new, civil Constitution of the state.

- I see that the Albanian parties immediately criticize me - Taravari demands a civil constitution. I am open between us to talk about everything, both about Balancer and Badinter, and about a new Constitution, let's open everything, merit system, so that there are no taboos between us. I think that the generator of the crisis in Macedonia, especially among the ethnic communities, is the Constitution. In 1991, the Constitution was adopted as it was adopted. I remember from an interview with former minister Vlado Popovski that the constitution was prepared in a hurry and the constitution was patched. We don't mind opening a public debate among the experts first, then after we receive a product from them, transfer that product to the political parties, then open a public debate among the citizens, and finally, in a few years, while we are negotiating with the European Union to let's bring a product after which we will no longer talk about things like this, which for me are minor things, but let's talk about the economy, about migrations, about unemployment, about the rule of law, about investments, Taravari said.

He has behind him a second mayoral term in Gostivar, which he says never happened to his predecessors, and he believes that he enjoys the trust of citizens from all ethnic communities. As a doctor - specialist in neurology, he never had prejudices and treated all patients equally. This is how I would act as president - for all citizens.

Watch the entire interview with Arben Taravari, presidential candidate from VREDI, below:

 

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