By Trifun Kostovski
– On the mayoral mandate 2005 – 2009 –
Sometimes I have the impression that our culture rests on ad hominem, insults not supported by arguments. The absence of criticism based on arguments and facts is what ruins the fragile history of this country and those who are the actors in building its contemporary, democratic and European identity. Unfortunately, everything is reduced to anecdotes, retelling. In our culture, we have not learned to conquer the space through a fair struggle of quality and argumentation, but through discrediting.
And I myself face this kind of “folklore”. Many want to belittle, discredit and humiliate my biography without arguments and pointing to the facts on which their poisoned arrows would eventually be based.
For those who do not know me, I would like to point out that hate for me hatred is the lowest and the most humiliating feeling. It is something completely alien to my being. Love is what moves me in life. It is the strongest weapon in the battle with all the temptations…Love is the main determinant in both my private and my professional panopticon. That is why the focal points that determine my life as a citizen of this country are responsibility and love of culture, language, education, social civic values that will provide adequate progress and which will make us dignified fellow citizens in the European family.
That is why, I would like this time to allow this space to be used for addressing in the first person, and to explain the arguments for a different picture of my mayoral mandate in the period from 2005 – 2009, and with that, I hope, to counterbalance the not informed enough and those who, because of their lack of information, discredit my personality.
We are a culture full of prisms without argumentation. So let me talk about the truth regarding my mayoral mandate.
The moment I inherited the mayor’s office the city was bankrupt. This means that 80% of the annual budget consisted of claims from the city’s clients and unpaid obligations to public enterprises. I became a mayor as an independent candidate, without a party booklet, and the moment I was on the side of the citizens, wanting to keep and economically spend their money, which is the money of the taxpayers, I was politically attacked by the ruling party, because I did not allow interference in the powers that according to the law belonged to the mayor, and by the opposition that was in the city council of Skopje. When making decisions on employment, the party booklet had no meaning. In the staffing solutions crucial for me were the qualifications and expertise of the people who were to perform those functions.
Within two years I paid all the debts that I had inherited. From the agency “Standard and Poor’s” the city got its first credit rating BB ++ stable on a cumulative level, and that opened the door for using funds for larger projects which were in the plans for the construction and infrastructure modernization of Skopje. In the first two years I closed the startup projects of my predecessor which had been lagging behind for years. I finished the transport center for the construction of roads and the bridge which is located next to the railway station, I closed the project that had been dragging for 7 years: Gologanov – Ciborovski. I built a new section on the Slovenia boulevard, which allowed the citizens of Cair and Butel to have a more efficient traffic flow with the other municipalities.
In my mandate I built 35 kilometers of jardinieres on all boulevards and streets. In addition to the construction, the greenery and the irrigation system were taken into consideration. In my mandate I started and closed the door to Continental. I also started the preparatory work for the modern solution of the Bitpazar interchange.
As mayor I did not have any information that the government was preparing a project called SK2014. I was the first to oppose the construction of the church of Ss. Konstantin and Elena on the city square, because as an old Skopje citizen I remember where that church was exactly located. It was in the “Zena borec” Park.
In addition to the capital investments with own, personal funds, the reconstruction of the ZOO started. It was time to get a functional ZOO, under EAZA, the system according to which all modern zoos operate. Today it is the pride of the city. I felt that Skopje deserves to have a unique zoo as the capital of an independent country.
What I want to emphasize in this repeated report is my openness, communication, transparency in the working atmosphere, both in the city hall and with the public enterprises.
The fire brigade, which represented the necessary evil for the mayors before and after me, was an imperative for me. I insisted that they were provided with the highest quality equipment for firefighters who risk their lives saving others. The fireproof equipment that was provided was of top quality, and at the level of the one used by the British.
In the council itself, which was made up of representatives of all political parties, I never left doubt in my intentions to be a true host and to deal with all the financial potential economically.
Dear readers, if all of this above mentioned means something to you, or you can understand it, okay, and if it does not matter to you, that is fine, too. But I would like to tell all citizens one thing – there are no special schools and faculties for mayors. The mayor’s office is something that every new mayor should master and practice patiently and with dedication. Success depends on affinities, vision and organizational abilities.
On my own initiative, all trade unions from public enterprises, employing more than 5,000 people, made an alliance in order to realize that public enterprises are the hands and feet of that living organism, in this case the city of Skopje.
I did not rush into buying Chinese and Ukrainian public transport buses. If buses were to be bought, my proposal was to buy the highest quality, Mercedes brand, which we had promotional rides with, low-cost, cheap in exploitation and non-polluters. And the issue of the tram is a matter I regret for even now. Because it is the perfect solution for public transport in conditions our city has. When I say conditions, I want to emphasize: Skopje lies on a huge lake, with underground waters that have huge airflow. The city is spread along the river Vardar, where the fall of the river from Saraj to Aerodrom is 12 meters. And for a tram it is the most ideal solution.
And in the end, I would ask the citizens to try to point out one mayor from the independence until today who at his departure has settled all obligations and left the city account with about 8 million Euros.
Forgive me, but I felt compelled to give my report again. I made a comprehensive account in a form of a white book before leaving, but, instead of reaching the citizens, it was thrown into the bin by the new local self-government. It hurts, because I neither took a salary from the city, nor I used a vehicle from the city, nor traveled at the expense of the city, and I even specifically designed and engraved the inventory in my cabinet in order to have a representation of a modern metropolis among those we hosted.
Being a mayor is a privilege for many of my colleagues. For me, my dear readers, being a mayor is a duty and responsibility.
That is exactly how I approached and served the function – with great responsibility, transparently, carefully. I hope that all these arguments will give a different light on the image of my mayoral mandate, but also for me as a person.
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