Kancheska Milevska: At no point did I feel as a traitor
The Member of Parliament, Ms Elizabeta Kancheska Milevska was at the centre of criticism by her fellow party members when on November 19th she decided to support the constitutional changes that opened the way for the implementation of the Prespa Agreement. Immediately after that she and her colleagues who also voted “in favour” were excluded from VMRO-DPMNE for acting outside the party’s position which was not to support the process.
Interviewed by: Svetlana Unkovska
Kancheska Milevska is now the coordinator of the new parliamentary group and says it is early to say how they would function after the end of the constitutional changes. Although she was excluded from VMRO-DPMNE, she says she has not received such an official decision.
“I have to say that I have not done anything wrong or against the interests or the efforts of the party. My vote was to enter into a debate on constitutional amendments. Now we see that my colleagues from my party are also in the debate. So now we are on the same level,” underlines Kancheska Milevska in an exclusive interview for Inbox7.
Inbox7: Mrs. Kancheska Milevska, you are the coordinator of the new parliamentary group. How will it work in the future and in what direction will you act?
ELIZABETA KANCHESKA MILEVSKA: The new parliamentary group was formed in order to be able to enter the amendment debate. Personally, as a Member of Parliament and in my speech itself, I said that we should enter into an amendment debate, and today, frankly, I am very glad to see that the other colleagues from my party VMRO-DPMNE joined in the amendment debate. I think that this false perception that was created in public, can now be seen that it’s not like that, so now all these masks have fallen. With regards to the parliamentary group, I will say that we had to form an independent parliamentary group within the VMRO-DPMNE and the coalition “For a Better Macedonia” so that we can also act in the final phase regarding some additional amendments, because we did not know how the rest of the colleagues from my party VMRO-DPMNE would act. But now that I see that they have been involved in the Commission itself, from this distance, I will say, from this distance, that we may have had to stay together. But I want to say that the parliamentary group was formed because we thought it was good to enter into an amendment debate in order to engage in an inclusive dialogue process, to invite experts in constitutional, international law, professors to a public hearing, us as lawmakers in a public debate … I have to say, there are many mistakes made by the Government in the process of leading the process, and I also emphasized these errors in the Assembly.
Inbox7: Will this parliamentary group only exist for the purposes of the constitutional changes or you remain as an independent parliamentary group?
ELIZABETA KANCHESKA MILEVSKA: At the moment has been formed for this purpose, because we wanted to enter the inclusiveness of the process and to be able to submit amendments one must be a parliamentary group. The way and the direction of our functioning are to be determined depending on the very circumstances. For now, we do not have a position on how to proceed in the future, but in this period we act as before, of course, as an opposition. We have shown that earlier when we had a press conference, and we said that our position is that we will not vote for the taking away of the mandate of Nikola Gruevski. I want to say that we will act as an opposition, there are many criticisms in every field of functioning and operation of the Government, and those criticisms must be presented and we will act as an opposition.
Inbox7: After having voted for the constitutional changes, you are excluded from VMRO-DPMNE. Are you thinking of forming a new party?
ELIZABETA KANCHESKA MILEVSKA: I then heard some declarations that would be excluded, and at the press conference President Hristijan Mickoski said that we were excluded, but I didn’t get the document based on which I was excluded, and with the reasons for it. I have to say that I have not done anything wrong or against the interests or the efforts of the party. My vote was in order to enter into a debate on constitutional amendments. Now we see that my colleagues from my party are also in the debate. So now we are on the same level. In the order of things, if you are excluded, you need to have an official document, there should be an explanation of the reasons why I was excluded, what is the thing I have done which is contrary or wrong for the interest or commitment of my political party. When someone is excluded, they need to have some kind of explanation, should you be called, you should be able to appeal … Such thing was said in public by certain persons, but to this moment, I have not gotten any official document by mail or in person.
Inbox7: What are your relations now with the MPs of VMRO-DPMNE? Remember the moment you voted for the opening of the process of constitutional change, they stood and were looking at you from aside with contempt. What is their behaviour now?
ELIZABETA KANCHESKA MILEVSKA: It is now as it has been up until this moment. It was clear that I wanted to get involved in this process. I have expressed my attitude to the coordination meeting and during the address in the Parliament, and when I spoke with President Hristijan Mickoski. I haven’t hidden anything, on the contrary, I thought it was necessary. It is a very important question and does not regard any party ambitions for anything or any function; those who have them should ask themselves. In the past years, we have worked intensively on the process of Macedonia’s European integration in the NATO and the EU. As Minister of Culture in that period, those effort were great, and I am convinced that we have done a lot in this process. You cannot argue that the postulate of my political party is that we are for European integration and NATO, and in the meantime not to offer anything. Or to say, we will do something better, so now is the chance to offer amendments if we think that we can do something better, get involved in the debate, if we truly feel that something better should be done.
Inbox7: Your colleagues called you a traitor for having voted. How does it feel now?
ELIZABETA KANCHESKA MILEVSKA: Neither then nor now I am feeling as a traitor. Because if we go by that analogy, now my colleagues are traitors as they enter this process. It is regrettable that such qualifications are given, whether we are talking about a traitor or a hero, we should once and for all take those personal and political interests off forever, and engage sincerely and honestly in this process. We must also determine the mistakes of the government in the whole process – we as an opposition. Because the interest of all of us is a faster entry into the EU and NATO and it is not only declarative, but we should make a direct effort to do it in any way. So, don’t see myself as a traitor in any moment.
Inbox7: After the vote you were granted security. Did you have problems and do you feel safe?
ELIZABETA KANCHESKA MILEVSKA: I do not use security and at no time have I been threatened neither by one nor the other side. There was no pressure on either side. The state decided so, because there was a tense situation and it created a false perception. The public was saying that we were immediately voting for name change, for change of the constitution and that’s a false perception. For what was done beforehand in terms of seeing us as a target for having voted, I think some are now ashamed of that act. I have sincerely and honestly acted in that phase and at no time can I feel like some traitor, but on the contrary, I think I did something more, that can now be confirmed by their presence and participation in this stage.
Inbox7: What are your relations with SDSM? Do you think that after the voting for the opening of the Constitution, they now see you as a parliamentary group that in the future would help in the adoption of laws or other decisions?
ELIZABETA KANCHESKA MILEVSKA: All my thoughts and positions are correct, I do not have some very close relationship with them, our relationship that we have here in the Assembly is purely professional. I do not have much experience in Parliament, but I think that the highest legislative house should function precisely in accordance with the definition of parliamentary democracy. It is good to make certain changes in laws, proposing solutions that arise from MPs, and Parliament to be regarded as parliamentary democracy and not as party democracy. I think that many things need to change in relation to the Parliament precisely in the true sense of parliamentary democracy, and not party democracy. Many things in changing some solutions should arise right from here. Relations with SDSM are very professional and will remain so.