Liljana Popovska: After two years in Jugohrom they can take the profit and leave
In Skopje there are buildings that can be demolished, cleared, it has been done in Paris, and to make parks, said in an interview for Inbox7, MP Liljana Popovska. In her opinion, tremendous damage was done in the city center but the parks in neighborhoods must be protected. To the Inbox7 question why the government is compliant to Jugohrom, president of DOM says it is a social problem for the people who work there.
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About the decision of the opposition to act outside the parliament Popovska says that this way small political parties in opposition will weaken. She thinks that the long existence of something that does not work does not make sense.
Inbox7: What novelties will the legal solution for gender equality between men and women bring?
Popovska: Two things will be brought. A form is proscribed according to which reports will be written on equal opportunities between men and women by institutions and those forms will be defined by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. It is very important though seemingly it looks like a formal job because comparative reports will be noted by certain indicators. So the reports will be unified and it will be exactly known in what sense there is progress in the process, where it stagnates, where regresses.
Inbox7: What is the current situation in Macedonia, where are women predominant, where men?
Popovska: The legislature has a solid figure higher than the European average, it is between 32% – 34%, while the European process is between 23% – 24%. In the executive power the situation is not good, there are few women ministers, vice ministers and only four mayors…Executive power gives great power and therefore men retreat hard.
Just to mention the amendments to the Law on Equal Opportunities. One point is uniformed reporting forms and the other point is strengthening gender machinery at the local level. So far there was only one coordinator for equal opportunities in local councils, now deputy coordinator is introduced. This is very important and comes at the right moment as this year for the first time the European Commission in its report noted progress in Macedonia in strengthening the capacity of local committees.
Inbox7: Beyond the laws and regulations of the Macedonian soil there is quite homophobic violence, particularly against LGBT community by people who do not want to accept their existence. How to prevent this?
Popovska: DOM always reacts to such attacks, we are appalled by such vandalism and publicly try to contribute to the tolerance towards different people in the country. Macedonia is a country that traditionally has a positive experience and tolerance of different ethnicity and religion. Big shame for us is not to be tolerant towards different sexual orientation. They are our fellow citizens who have absolutely the same rights as other citizens. It will be very important if sexual orientation and gender identity are added to the Anti-discrimination Law as a basis for non-discrimination. Currently the law is inclusive and it lists various grounds of non-discrimination and says on any other basis. Some of the complaints filed by the people themselves of the LGBT community were positively solved by the Commission. But not mentioning sexual orientation of LGBT people is an indication as if they did not exist. On the other hand, it is understood to stimulate homophobic people who get the power from there and allow various excesses.
I had a clear position on the definition of marriage and domestic partnership in the Constitution, I said that I would support the definition of marriage, because marriage is a millennium institution which I do not see that is threatened here, but I understand the colleagues if Christian-Democratic orientation that have marriage in their program and to whom it is remarkably important to define that right confirmed also by the Venice Commission, any state can define marriage in the Constitution but has no right to define. I said that that I do not accept domestic partnership which can be between heterosexual partners because it is interfering in the private lives of people. State would thus peer into people’s homes
Inbox7: The ruling party is of Christian-Democratic orientation and in its program marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, but that does not mean that their definition should enter the Constitution.
Popovska: That is why I said that I cannot vote for such a definition of domestic partnership, it would be discriminatory to some of our fellow citizens. The same was said by the Venice Commission and after the announcements of the Government I think that the constitutional amendment will undergo changes.
Inbox7: DOM has shown great commitment and despite the criticism by the public that it has been slowly reacted to air pollution, Makstil steelworks plant is already closed, but instead of punishment, Jugohrom received extension of the deadlines and on Tuesday citizens of Bitola came out to protest against pollution from REK Bitola. Why do not large industrial facilities take care of human health?
Popovska: A big business is like a big bear, as if you fight with a big bear bare handed. But if a lot of people gather, the struggle will be positive, as with Makstil. I am glad to accept DOM’s proposal Makstil not to work until its environmental adjustment is applied, it would have been better if our suggestion had been accepted immediately after 1st April to close down the capacities and accelerate the processes of environmental adjustment. Skopje has saved itself but Tetovo and Bitola remained in smog. The disappointment is big. A compromise was made with Jugohrom to work with half capacity while adjust and to give another six months delay, and we hear that Jugohrom requires two years delay.
We oppose this extension and I am sorry that the government did not support further the position of the Ministry of Environment that anyone who does not meet environmental standards must be closed while to adjust. So we filed criminal charges against Makstil and Jugohrom when they did not obey the deadline od 1st April. Now we react against Jugohrom because it may not be about a period of six months.
In these ten years since the Law on Environmental Protection is in force Jugohrom did not find it necessary to make environmental adjustment even in the periods when the stock exchanges of metals were going well. That is why we are angry, these companies in the past years made extra profits, but have no money for filters. Estimates say that not more than one percent or not more than one per cent of annual profits to be allocated is enough to supply the filters and all that is needed for environmental performance.
Inbox7: Why is the Government permissive compliant?
Popovska: I guess it is a social problem of asking people who work there, too many families depend on Jugohrom, but it is a difficult decision. Large collectives can manipulate with data. One pollutant said it is to invest 37 million Euros, and then reduced it to 17 million, and then he said 11 million, and I am sure it will be a single-digit number. It is about insufficient awareness among citizens and politicians in the past years that has now blazed.
I am afraid that Jugohrom’s delay is just buying time and they do not have the intention to invest in environmentally friendly equipment and after those two years they can put the key in door, take the profit and leave. Such things happen in developing countries and people remain out of work and with a lot of illnesses. That is the biggest danger, especially as I feel it is unacceptable for so many years to behave arrogantly. So we called the Public Prosecutor in Tetovo to take into account our criminal charges as soon as possible. I think maximum pressure is necessary on the management of Jugohrom from Jagunovce to invest money in environmental equipment that is not too expensive in terms of its profit.
Bitola has very bad data with PM10 and REK Bitola is a strategic facility for the country, necessary for the country at the moment, but it is state-owned and state here should invest more money and understand it as a priority. It is not okay to poison the citizens, and Pelagonija. Bitola had no obligation until 1st April this year to adjust but they followed the requirements of the European Energy Community and I think 2017 is the deadline for them. Feni made the adjustments and now pollution is reduced. Now pollution is reduced, but we have to keep looking other pollutants, waste, and small and medium-sized pollutants, as well as transportation.
Inbox7: Much of the pollution resulted from the great logging of 50-year-old trees around the center of Skopje. You and your party stand for application of renewable energies but baroque facades are placed in the capital. What does DOM do in terms of this issue?
Popovska: DOM has the power to open some issue, to start the fight against it, but final decisions require a majority, we do not have that majority in parliament. For two years the Law on Green is ready with experts from the City of Skopje and the Physical Planning and other institutions. This law is one of priorities and conditions of our coalition.
Inbox7: But in the city there is no longer an area where trees will be planted?
Popovska: There is, a green that can be cut but might also be saved. Where there will not be roof terraces or vertical greenery.
Inbox7: But things have gone too far and as that law provides, returning the clean air will be very difficult.
Popovska: But it will not be impossible. In Paris after Greens participated in government with a deputy mayor in two terms, green areas increased by 60,000 square meters. In Skopje there are buildings that can be demolished, cleared, it has been done in Paris, to make parks. There is a need to protect the greenery in the settlements. Tremendous damage was done in the city center but the parks in the settlements must be protected.
Inbox7: The opposition definitely said it was not returning to the assembly and they announced field activities. What is your assessment of how long this political crisis will last?
Popovska: It is a great pity that the opposition colleagues are not in the parliament and we do not have much criticism for passing better laws. I think this way small political parties that are in opposition will weaken. We are also one such subject with its own specific program and profile. It is a great pity.
Inbox7: Do you think that one by one they will begin to return?
Popovska: I think it will happen because long existence of something that does not work does not make sense. In politics it is necessary to deliver a result, to have your own agenda and to realize your program. If you are outside of your institutions you can realize the program. Most legitimate and strongest is the fight through institutions so I heartily wish colleagues to revise their views and to enter the parliament.
Inbox7: The opposition wants talks for meeting its requirements.
Popovska: We need to sit down and talk. All conditions that are realistic and logical can be agreed upon and a solution can be found. I always believe in dialogue.