“It concerns a specific matter, but we want to be realistic. We in the Liberal Party have no intention of being populists, we have no intention of promising that we will increase social assistance, we have no intentions of telling numbers that do not mean anything to the people. We will either build a system, or this country will not make it!”, says the President of the Liberal Party, Ivon Velickovski, in an interview for CIVIL Media.
CIVIL Media: What are the program goals of your party in terms of social justice?
VELICKOVSKI: In terms of social justice, the Liberal Party advocates for a human state and a human society. Apparently, it may seem that it concerns two topics, but basically, we are talking about the same thing. In truth, we do not believe in that so-called welfare state. We believe that Macedonia still does not have economic resources to realize that constitutional category of a welfare state. In terms of social justice, we are targeting several areas. One of them is the fulfillment of all human rights, civil rights, also including the attitude towards, so to speak, the marginalized groups, such as for example, the LGBT population. We are speaking in regards to the realization of women’s rights, and we are speaking about the thing that actually turned Macedonia back in the past ten years. We know that the Liberal Party was the only one that opposed the previous parliamentary composition in regards to the amendments in the Law on early termination of pregnancy, because we believe that it is a right for which a woman has the right to decide on, primarily by herself. She decides for her body, she decides for her future and for the future of her offspring.
As to what the realization of the social needs of the citizens in a human society means, and in a country that uses its resources on the citizens for which it exists, and not on its own needs and for its own marketing, the Liberal Party approached the allocation of social assistance based on very pragmatic criteria, which has the aim to enable the citizen to return to the labor market, and not to live off the alms of the state. What is specific about us is that we want to use the subsidizing approach for stimulating the workforce, for stimulating the citizens, to enter the market with their knowledge and entrepreneurship. To create. Using the social assistance to primarily upgrade themselves, to build their own businesses, or to get their own quality work, to get out of the zone threatened by poverty, threatened by illiteracy, and for the next beneficiary to be able to have the same resources, and more – at their disposal. I know that it concerns a specific matter, but we want to be realistic. We have no intention of being populists, we have no intention of promising that we will increase social assistance, we have no intentions of telling numbers that do not mean anything to the people. We will either build a system, or this country will not make it!
CIVIL Media: What are your realizations on the abuse of socially disadvantaged categories of citizens in the political, or electoral context?
VELICKOVSKI: From what we heard in 2011, on the blackmailing of people for in vitro, to be playing with the fate of the people, with their wishes to have a child, up to what a nominal marketing role in increasing social assistance for their allocation means…all of that are abuses that have been carried out in the past eight years at a high level. I cannot say sophisticated, because playing with human destinies is not sophistication, but rather a reality. Everything that today means a policy of subsidizing, has the purpose of only buying social peace, and buying votes of party supporters.
CIVIL Media: Which promises for social justice are realistic, and which promises are a kind of political corruption, or are playing with the expectations of the voters?
VELICKOVSKI: All of these tendencies, from the one-time increases of pensions linearly, up to the announcements on huge increases in social assistance, they are all lies! We focus on several groups of voters, explaining what are goals are, while acting only based on reality, and not on what is desired. For us it is sad when we see that an increase in social assistance of, let’s say, some 500 denars, or an increase in pensions of about ten euros, represents a major success. On the contrary! One of our efforts that was not very appreciated at first among the public, in reality was widely supported. We do not believe in subsidizing city transportation for only certain categories in a city. We do not believe that Macedonia has to finance the public transportation in Skopje, or just the transportation of the elderly category, and we do not believe that we should enter the competition between two major groups, in which one of them says that they will subsidize four days of transportation, and others say – they will subsidize seven days of transportation…Every services has to be paid! But, that is why we need to enable people to have a good income. Also, what we want and have to announce as a danger, is something for which people have already started talking about. We have been talking about this for two years. The Pension Fund in Macedonia has been attacked, the Pension Fund in Macedonia is empty! You can expect the same thing with the Health Fund. For us two basic transformations are necessary, in the Pension and in the Health Insurance Fund. For us the insurance reforms are one of the fundamental ones. You can buy any kind of equipment for the hospitals, but if you do not have doctors who will work with them, if you do not have the medical staff that will pay attention to the patients, and finally, if you do not have the money for electricity to operate that equipment, then you have bought them for nothing! I know that what I am saying is unpopular, but it is realistic. I do not intend to tell the people what they want to hear, I have to tell the truth. That is the approach of the Liberal Party.
CIVIL Media: What are the social and political consequences from abusing the issues in the area of social justice?
VELICKOVSKI: We are probably all going through it. All those people who have been promised services (for their money), all those people who have been promised social assistance and have been waiting for it for months, they all have a false expectation that they need to vote for a certain party. In this past period, unfortunately, we have not seen that any of this has been resolved, in this technical Government. This is where the main challenges will be for us. And this is where the main challenges will be for any government in the next four years. This crisis is too deep, the political corruption based on a political decision of the ruling parties, VMRO-DPMNE and DUI, is a political decision that they have made and are practicing. Unfortunately, I could not see in this period that this has changed. This will continue to be solved for at least four years. That is why we are talking with potential, so to say, investors for these funds, because even the private funds will be at risk. You know what happened almost a year ago, when we could see that a good part of the assets of the private funds, due to a Government decision, or due to systematic negligence, were put at risk and their profit had been prevented. With this, future pensioners are harmed. Our approach is not only to satisfy the present categories of pensioners. We also pay attention for the future pensioners to also have their deserved pensions. If this country is not prepared to guarantee the rights of its citizens, now and in the future, then it is not prepared to function now, or in the future!
CIVIL – Center for Freedom is implementing the pilot project “Promises and Abuses”, which deals with abuse of social justice for political and electoral purposes. The goal of the project is to contribute to the strengthening of public awareness on abuses in the sphere of social justice in the electoral context, as well as to prevent manipulative practices of the political centers of power. The project is implemented in cooperation with the Heinrich Bὅll Foundation – Office in Sarajevo