INTERVIEW Mitko Jancev: VMRO-DPMNE needs to be party that thinks about the future (part 2)
Mitko Jancev is the only mayor of an urban municipality who is from VMRO-DPMNE. He is a successful businessman and politician, with a profound sense for local issues, especially in the domain of environmental protection. In this (second) part of the interview with Jancev, we talk about political issues and topics. In this part of the interview, as in the first one, in our interlocutor we see steadiness and pragmatism, but also a vision of a modern politician who understands and practices inclusiveness, witnessed by the fact that he is favoured among his citizens, regardless of political and other affiliation.
CIVIL MEDIA: Let’s go into a more dynamic reality that we are living in our country. What are your comments about the current social political situation?
JANCEV: In regards to the current daily political situation, if we talk about the local one, I think that every mayor, according to his possibilities, resources and capacities in the municipality, strives to do something better for the city. I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t want to succeed and would obstruct.
Funds of about 5o million euros have been allocated for municipalities to write off their debts, because in our country we had many indebted municipalities. Our municipality, for the sake of the truth, and luckily for us, is not indebted and is in a good condition. However, if your municipality indeed is indebted and you don’t have the budget and have already spent the next four years in advance, I think that it’s impossible to do anything, regardless of who comes in office.
The same goes for the central level, in the governance of all the institutions and public agencies, I think that, first of all, a good analysis needs to be made, pretty good revenues do flow into the municipalities and the state.
For example, for our municipality, the important thing is that we managed to reduce costs. We increased the workload, we increased the quality level, both in the attitude and hygiene, and in the services of citizens. We didn’t dismiss anyone from work, we didn’t reduce any activity, we expanded activities in the municipality, while we decreased the gross expenditure of the municipality from 2 million euros to 1.600.000 euros. In one year we managed to summarize where 400.000 euros were being unnecessarily spent, to save that money for investments, and for the municipality to still be able to function at a higher level.
I think this can be done in every institution, with good management and looking over the situation, without wasting money unnecessarily. When I say unnecessarily, I mean luxury.
For instance, before I was a mayor, there was a firm selected through a tender that maintained and serviced the street lighting in the Municipality of Kavadarci. The Municipality of Kavadarci has 3.000 lights. When we saw what maintaining and servicing one light means, together with the secondary vocational school, where there are two classes for electrical technicians, we enabled the lights to be services there, with us purchasing the parts that cost us five times cheaper. The practice of the students themselves, on the other hand, is an additional benefit.
I think that every municipality, in the area of vocational schools, in the area of primary schools or higher education, can achieve something extra by involving the youth, and for all of that to return as a benefit for the municipality itself.
CIVIL MEDIA: That means that a case as they call “Racket” cannot affect the life of a municipality in any sense of the word? Do you think that the general situation in Skopje does not have an influence on the life of the municipality and on your work?
JANCEV: Look, it does have an influence. The overall negative atmosphere and negative developments in any municipality, or at any level in the state, are reflected on the lower structures and on other municipalities. Hope to God they are always positive, so that we can draw the positive. You mentioned the “Racket” case, or any other case. No one can be immune to any given situation.
As a mayor in this year and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to come across all kinds of people, of different spheres of cooperation, but I have this practice where if someone wants a meeting that concerns a part of the work of the municipality, then for me the head of that sector is a figure that has to be necessarily present at that meeting. Sometimes when we need to take a donation, we inform ourselves well, we know who are the companies, we bring a decision at the Council, even though we don’t have legal regulations and obligations to do so. Nevertheless, we put the item transparently at the Council session, for it to be discussed, since we can never know the ultimate intentions of anyone.
Regarding institutions involved in cases, whether it concerns “Racket” or bribery, corruption or anything else, for me it is a completely unacceptable situation. I think that every single servant, especially of such structures, as are those high-level services, people who are supposed to be making laws and fighting against corruption, have to care about their own integrity and authority and to know when, how and with whom to spend time with. It is a basic thing in order to be a high-level politician or prosecutor, you cannot be exposed in any way to something that can harm you.
CIVIL MEDIA: Your focus on being a politician who cares about his municipality can be noticed, however, the politics in the country do have an influence, which you, in a way, implied in your previous reply. But I would like to remain in the domain of politics just a bit more and to ask you what your positions are in the party on behalf of which you acted as candidate for mayor and won that function? How do you currently stand with and in VMRO-DPMNE?
JANCEV: I stand excellent with VMRO-DPMNE, but I do have a little misunderstanding with the leadership of VMRO-DPMNE. That misunderstanding led to small changes. For me, they are minor changes, like dismissal of a vice president. Nonetheless, the president of VMRO-DPMNE creates the team in regards to his cabinet, team of vice presidents. Although I don’t justify it, in a way, let’s say, sultan party, when it comes to a party, society and public functions, I want for us to function jointly, to summarize all opinions. Putting someone aside become they don’t suit us in a conversation is not a good thing, from any given position. And even with my dismissal as a Vice President of VMRO-DPMNE, I am from VMRO-DPMNE, I stand behind VMRO-DPMNE, and function as such with the municipal committee of VMRO-DPMNE in the Municipality of Kavadarci and have wonderful cooperation. I am a member of the municipal committee. We cooperate on a daily basis. I can emphasize one thing, and that is that VMRO-DPMNE in Kavadarci is united and functions well. We showed this at the last elections. We are showing this at this moment and we will show this in the future.
I think we are the only municipality and a rare example where I as a mayor don’t have the majority in Council. The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia has the majority in Council. However, we work as a coalition and have ideal and wonderful cooperation. Hence, in Kavadarci, with the change of the mayor no one had any consequences or repercussions. On the contrary.
CIVIL MEDIA: So the leadership of the party from where you come does not pressure you?
JANCEV: No. It does not pressure.
CIVIL MEDIA: And do you pressure the leadership to reform itself?
JANCEV: Absolutely not. I can just send out a message that VMRO-DPMNE should be a united party. All quality and good people need to be involved in the leadership of the party. It should be a pragmatic party. It should be a party that thinks about the future, and I think that that is VMRO-DPMNE’s impetus, now and in the future, in order to form a central government as soon as possible, but with pragmatic thinking and compromises.
CIVIL MEDIA: What is your comment on how the central government, and in general, how our country can or should implement a strategy for integration? We know that the Government has brought a strategy for one society for all. Do you have a stance or comment about how that matter that concerns inter-community relations is developed? Do we have good policies and practices in that respect?
JANCEV: I would first tell the example of Kavadarci, and then will answer the question about the central level.
Kavadarci has two churches and one mosque. This mosque exists from the Turkish period, and we have Muslim believers who go there. Currently, we have Orthodox and Muslim cemeteries, which we respect equally and invest in them equally. By the end of the year, we will also build a chapel at the Muslim cemetery, since they don’t have a chapel, even though they are just 4 or 5% of the total number of residents of the municipality. I believe that this integration that we need to make is not to say – wait they are just 4 or 5%. No, on the contrary, it should be equal for everyone, and we must not divide people on any grounds, but should bring to their attention that everyone is the same. We respect all holidays. We celebrate Iftar, we celebrate Easter, absolutely everything! My next-door neighbour is a man who manages the Muslim community in Kavadarci and the mosque.
As to the central level, in order to achieve that integration and to have a society equal for all, primarily, the big political parties need to separate daily political developments and put them aside from nationalism, outside of religion, and to dedicate themselves to economy, transparency and pragmatism of a person or party that should move the economic and social standard of the people and the country.
As long as we think that with nationalism or with division of people we can achieve political points, we are moving on short paths. The government as a government, can never completely make integration in society if other parties don’t share the same thinking.
I believe that regardless of which party is in power, there should be cooperation in terms of integration of the whole society.
CIVIL MEDIA: We have a new Ministry of Political System and Inter-Community Relations, do you think that now problems between communities will be better solved?
JANCEV: I personally would give the opposition to head this ministry, in order to have a complete society, as everyone envisions it. I would never give it to the ruling party to run it.
The establishment of such a ministry in a society as ours is good, however, I will repeat again, it will be under the direct control of the government. I don’t think we will move forward if the people don’t equip themselves, and the forming of that ministry should just be support in the legal moment of all communities.
CIVIL MEDIA: You are a successful businessman, you head and are a part of a private company management. Did you have to enter politics? Why did you enter politics?
JANCEV: I will be honest. There were many talks and speculations at the start, that I was in debt, that I owed someone, that I needed to earn that. As time goes by, I have showed and proved that this wasn’t the truth. That it was about my personal enthusiasm.
My grandfather was a mason. A skilled workman that kept his family and built a family in Kavadarci with his two hands and feet. My father comes from a state-owned company as a mechanist, opened a private business for auto parts and at last came to a good idea, establishing a plant for production of mineral water with my uncle.
Our growth as a family, and my personal growth as a person who has witnessed all that, gives me great enthusiasm and pragmatism, to have determination and to show that, just as we can make an average family now lead a company with 700 employees, that we can make the same out of a society and country. That is my motivation. That is my goal.
I showed that and I want to justify it, because I don’t think and I don’t have the intention of returning to my family and firm without honour, or for someone in the country or outside the country to tell me negative words, or to point a finger at me
On the contrary, I want to show that there are people who really think about the country and the people. That they can make a good society and state. We have such people in the country and we must not allow the small percentage of negative people ruin this in society.
That is my perception about society. I have three children, who live here and would like for them, and our grandchildren and everyone to live in our country. That is why I think that we have to make this society better. There is no progress from sitting at home and commenting in cafes and on the streets.
Conversation led by: Xhabir Deralla
Text editing and transcript: Маја Ivanovska
Camera: Atanas Petrovski
Editing: Biljana Jordanovska
Photography: Маја Ivanovska
Translation: Natasa Cvetkovska