Protuger: There is no time for media detoxification of citizens!

CIVIL- Center for Freedom continues with the practice of being an open platform for views and analyses in regards to the socio-political processes in the electorate context.

CIVIL Media conducted a mini series of interviews with leading intellectuals, public figures in the social sphere and experts and analysts, from which a number of interesting and significant perspectives and analyses were received. They were all asked the same questions relating to the development of the negotiations for overcoming the political crisis, the obstructions and violations of the Przino Agreement, and the opportunities for creating the right conditions for free elections in April 2016.

These discussions are part of the activities of the Project “Free elections for free citizens”, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Ida Protuger, journalist and economic analyst is decisive that the elections should in no way be held on April 24, 2016, as not even one precondition has been fulfilled for them to be fair and democratic. She believes that if the elections are to be held on April 24, Gruevski will win them, with the help of the "army of corrupted supporters, with the propaganda and the manipulations he is performing and through the corruption with our state money."

The discussion we had with Protuger, who is in Vienna, was led on Skype on December 26, 2015.

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CIVIL Media: How do you assess the political process in Macedonia in the context of the implementation of the Przino Agreement?

PROTUGER: I was of those who were still skeptical when the negotiations began, in that we should sit at the negotiating table with Gruevski and his party. With the Przino Agreement they have to give up thier entire conduct, everything they had been doing in the past decade with passion and delight. They have to free the institutions they captivated, establish democratic principles ... Fraudulent values and principles have been keeping Gruevski in power in the past years. I was skeptical from the very beginning in that we to sit with him at the negotiating table. Also, I am aware of the pragmatism of that proposal, to reach a solution through a political agreement, especially after we saw what he’s prepared for, in Kumanovo. If he is prepared to sacrifice people, the international community probably has assessed that it is good for them to help us in this way. Since this process of negotiations has already started, it should continue, but the elections cannot be held on April 24, 2016. Because not one precondition has been fulfilled for them to be fair and democratic. Just as I assumed, and as many others have assumed that his behavior will allways be to evade the agreement, with the same intrigues and insidious behavior we have heard about in the recordings, this is now happening in the public eye. The situation is no different from previous years when he won the elections. If it is known that he wins the election with manipulations, captivating of institutions and corruption. The media are also crucial, the propaganda must be stopped. However, even if key reforms were made now, which I think Gruevski will resist until the very end and will not allow changes to be made in the media, there is no time for media detoxification of the citizens, because time is short. I think that bringing some kind of media law along European lines should never be accepted, as VMRO-DPMNE requests. Because it is with a law that they robbed us and captivated the institutions over the years.

The biggest robbery of the decade - "Skopje 2014" is legally covered! A law will not solve it, especially since in the electronic media, which are his biggest supporters, corruption is the problem, the law is not the problem. Those journalists are not captivated, nobody presses them, they have simply entered into a corrupt network and will do everything to keep Gruevski in power through propaganda. Furthermore, that corrupt network and corrupt army is not only in the media, but also in every segment. I said quite some time ago that it would have been good for the international community to have helped us when this dictatorship was booming, and not now, when it has already blossomed, relatively speaking, because in the past decade they managed to place people in all institutions. In every segment - doctors, judicial proffession, media ... people who are not there because of their capacities and professional skills, but because of servility and loyalty to the party and to Gruevski. Hence, all those who undeservedly have come to these positions, now with all the power and all the mechanisms at their disposal, let’s not to forget that they are sitting in the institutions, will help Gruevski stay in power. Because they will not have those privilages in a normal, market and democratic society. The media market is struggling, the democratic processes have stopped long ago, so if elections were to be held on April 24, he would win them with this army of corrupted supporters, with the propaganda and manipulationst he does. And also through the corruption with our state money that he does each year and now continues to do in the public sphere.


CIVIL Media: What are the most serious violations of the Przino Agreement?

PROTUGER: I do not think that the Przino Agreement should be assessed accordin to the biggest violations, just simply assess if it has provided or failed to provide conditions for free and fair elections. After the holidays, when Commissioner Hahn pays a visit, will be a great opportunity to make a summary and to see how things are, and according to my opinion we will be able to see ... I am deeply convinced that there are no conditions for the elections in April to be fair and democratic and I do not see any possibility for the necessary reforms in the voters list and the media to be addressed in the required period, which will ensure fair and democratic elections. My position is that the negotiations must absolutely continue, but they must not end with the elections in April, rather be postponed for at least three months. The passports affair clearly shows how powerful the campaign of Gruevski still is in the media and everything he is ready to do with the state resources that he has captivated, and also how to present it in public. There is a very large number of citizens who are informed only by television. The IRI survey showed that 90% of citizens are informed through television, meaning, although those citizens might be bombarded by the propaganda and do not believe in anything, they still do not have an opportunity, do not have access to other views, to plurality, to another perspective in the media, in order for them to form an opinion. So, they are bombarded by the propaganda alone, and do not have time until April 24 to be decontaminated from that propaganda and adopt an attitude based on different information, which should be offered by the media.

Also, in the short term, I think that only a regulator as the one proposed by Priebe, can resolve this situation. Because we in the media do not have a market setting at all, there are no market standards in most media, especially the electronic media, which are under the command of the government. In the short term, until normalicy is restored in the media (which will be a long process), there should be a regulator until the elections, which should be able to take the media off the air if they do not adhere to professional standards and to ensuring plurality in views, and if their reports are not based on facts. Thus, their owners will lose millions on other grounds, from advertising. So, if it pays off for them, then they will not air, if not – they will probably have to put themselves in the minimum professional framework to ensure plurality in information and minimum professional standards. Therefore, my view is that we should continue with this process, because the energy from the protestes is already gone, and simply if the international community gets involved and has chosen this way of helping us - in a pragmatic manner through negotiations, then it must continue. We can not go back, we do not have the energy that we had at the protests. Having the negotiations discontinued now would favor only Gruevski and no one else, this means that this process must continue, by delaying the elections for at least three months.

Marija Tegovska



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