Skopje, presidential candidate Arben Taravari hopes to pass the first round

2024-03-02 20:38:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Skopje, presidential candidate Arben Taravari hopes to pass the first round

The candidate of the Albanian opposition for president in North Macedonia, Arben Taravari, says in an interview for the Voice of America that, in addition to the votes of the Albanian electorate, he also expects support from other ethnic communities and that the possibilities to go to the runoff are real. However, he emphasizes the need to elect the president in parliament. Mr. Taravari, one of the two Albanian contestants for the April 24 elections, says that the source of the crises in North Macedonia is the country's Constitution, which, according to him, should be changed. He says that the path of European integration is the only alternative for North Macedonia.

Voice of America: Mr. Taravari, what prompted you to run for president of North Macedonia and what will you offer the electorate?

Arben Taravari: We did some analysis with the partners of the coalition of the Albanian opposition, which is called VLEN, and it turned out that there is a real possibility that an Albanian will go to the second round, for the first time in the history of North Macedonia. Finding that with some candidacies that we analyzed with surveys, votes of other nationalities living in Macedonia can be won in support of my candidacy, we will see if we will be able to break the barriers that "a Macedonian cannot for an Albanian to vote". The main things we will talk about is the opening of the Constitution, and I think that the source of the crisis in Macedonia is the Constitution, which was voted in the early 90s only with the support of the Macedonian voters, but we will also take the opportunity to remove the use of "20%" from the Albanian language; then the election of the president. He will demand that we elect the president in the assembly of North Macedonia, but also the change of the entire Constitution. Why don't we think about the Constitution of 1974 when there was real decentralization in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, where the official languages ??were Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish and no one was an obstacle.

Voice of America: So far, no Albanian candidate has made it to the second round. Why do you think that something should have changed and if you also aim for the votes of Macedonians and other non-Albanian communities, do you think that with the program to change the Constitution you will succeed?

Arben Taravari: I strongly believe that we can go to the second round, especially if there was no candidate from the other Albanian party, DUI. I think that the Albanian candidate can go to the second round, but even in this race I am very optimistic, considering the collection of signatures that we did, in almost 36 hours, 10 thousand signatures were collected. I base this also on my election to the post of mayor of the Gostivar municipality, for which I received the support of all communities, especially the Albanians, but also the Macedonian voters.

Voice of America: What do you think of the other candidates and if you do not pass the runoff, will you call on your electorate to support another candidate in the runoff?

Arben Taravari: I have said from the beginning that I will have full respect for all other candidates. If we do not go to the next round, we will think, analyze and evaluate as a united Albanian opposition what our strategy will be, but I say with complete conviction that we have a real possibility to go to the second round.

Voice of America: Was it a right decision to leave power to join the Albanian opposition? The polls again put DUI in the lead over the Albanian political bloc.

Arben Taravari: The problem is with the voter of the Alliance for Albanians and the essence, ideology and main cause of the Alliance for Albanians. We were formed 10 years ago as a faction of the PDSH and our voters have always seen us as the antipode of DUI and the party that should bring change to Albanians. It would be abnormal and unrealistic for ASH to be together with DUI. I think Albanians deserve change. 22 years and everything was good is too much, too much, for this reason I think it is the right moment for change. Since 2011, the Albanian voter has voted against DUI, but the Albanian political factor has not been able to unite. It is the first time since 2002 that the entire Albanian opposition is together and we will undoubtedly bring the long-awaited change to the Albanians.

Voice of America: Will you continue the coalition with VLEN even after the parliamentary elections?

Arben Taravari: Undoubtedly yes. We have an agreement which should last 4 years, but the coalition parties are autonomous and have their own political identity. So the cooperation will absolutely continue, but of course we have to preserve our political identity. If there is eventually a possibility to make certain expansions, I think that Albanians do not need so many parties. There is a real possibility that after the elections we will talk and find common methods of action. We can have closer cooperation with some of the political parties regardless of whether they are opposition or not.

Voice of America: Were there any meetings with VMRO regarding the parliamentary elections, or regarding the formation of the new government, if it wins the elections? VMRO has openly spoken about its interest in creating a government coalition with the Albanian opposition.

Arben Taravari: We have not had meetings with VMRO-DPMNE. Personally, I had my last meeting with Mr. Mickoski sometime in October or November 2022. We are mainly focused on the Albanian political camp. We care about making a difference. Albanians really want change, because change brings hope. So after the elections, based on the compatibility of the programs and the votes we will receive, we are open to cooperation with any political party that is interested in Macedonia continuing its European path. We are ready to sit and talk with VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM, but above all VLEN has three priorities: the EU, the path to the EU and negotiations with the EU.

Voice of America: Are constitutional changes expected to be made after the elections, regardless of who comes to power?

Arben Taravari: Absolutely. We think this is necessary. Macedonia has no other alternative and I don't know any political party in Macedonia that offers another option. If we do not make the constitutional changes, we remain out of the possibility to start negotiations and we will insist at all costs and this is our condition to be part of a new majority. So that the constitutional changes take place within a limited time frame and that the negotiations with the EU begin.

Voice of America: What is happening with the Alliance for Albanians? Your Congress dismissed Mr. Ziadin Sela from office, while the Congress of Mr. Sela's wing dismissed you from the post of party chairman? Could there be a lawsuit over who will lead the party?

Arben Taravari: There is a mistake here. It is true that their congress, which is illegitimate, fired me, while we did not fire Mr. Ziadin Sela, we only returned the statute of March 27, 2022, when Mr. Sela was elected for the second time as party chairman. We have strengthened only that status where there is no Speaker of the Assembly of the party. So I don't want to get into this debate that there was a faction within ASH who thought that we should be together with DUI, mainly ASH functionaries while we were in government. We will respect any court decision on this matter, but all arguments and facts are on our side. We will leave the decisions on the next steps up to the courts./ VOA

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