Counter-spin: VMRO-DPMNE’s double standards regarding the refugees

 

The opposition party VMRO-DPMNE blames that the government led by SDSM prepares a legal framework which will make Macedonia shelter for huge number of refugees and migrants and all of that would put enormous financial and demographic pressure on the country to the detriment of its citizens. In several press conferences, representatives of VMRO-DPMNE’s municipal branches delivered accusations that, according to the Action plan on refugees proposed by the government, their towns would soon house 200 thousand refugees in total. In addition, this party lodged motion to impeach the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mila Carovska, as the culprit for, as VMRO-DPMNE puts it, “well thought out strategy on housing and abode of the migrants in the Republic of Macedonia”

 

Author: Jugoslava Dukovska

 

Zoran Zaev’s government and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Mila Carovska must immediately tell the Macedonian citizens what they want to do to the Republic of Macedonia and to huge number of municipalities in the next 10 years through their Strategy and through their Action plan.

VMRO-DPMNE’s MP Vlatko Gjorchev says that this Strategy involves projects worth billions of euros for  accommodation and for the construction of residential buildings and settlements for migrants in multiple municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia in the next ten years.

With the new strategy of Zoran Zaev’s government and Mila Carovska, the Republic of Macedonia is no longer a transit country, rather the Republic of Macedonia becomes a country of permanent residence for great deal of refugees, migrants and foreigners from many countries. All of that will consume immense budget funds, billions and billions of euros in the next 10 years. The citizens of the Republic of Macedonia need those funds, that money and those budgets for great deal of projects which could bring enormous benefits to them.

(Vlatko Gjorchev, press conference, date: 9 August 2017)

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Vlatko Gjorchev’s statement incorporates everything that has been said in the near past on the floor of the Parliament and during press conferences held by numerous representatives of VMRO-DPMNE on the proposed Draft Strategy on Integration of Refugees and Foreigners 2017-2027, document outlined by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, which was presented last week and published on Ministry’s official website. In the thick of the intense parliamentary session on the ousting of the Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski, which dragged for weeks due to the obstructions by VMRO-DPMNE’s parliamentary party groups; the motion to impeach Carovska because of the proposed Strategy on Migrants, Refugees and Foreigners 2017-2027 stymies the public using a xenophobic narrative based on truth spinning.

What has been spun in VMRO-DPMNE’s assertion that SDSM and the Minister Carovska are preparing plan for construction of flats and shelter centers for permanent residence and housing of thousands of refugees on Macedonian territory?

The Ministry for Labour and Social Policy, through Carovska’s official profile, has officially announced that:

No flats for refugees will be built, Macedonia is a transit country! The news that the country will be building flats for refugees and that they would stay in Macedonia is fake. No refugee camps will be built in the Republic of Macedonia, no citizenships will be issued to refugees and no other measures will be activated in this regard.

Every different information is incorrect, untruthful and a lie.

The Republic of Macedonia is a transit country for refugees, both in the past and during the refugee crisis in 2015/2016. As a member state of the United Nations, our country will help the refugees on their way to the final destinations, in accordance with the international standards and the ratified Refugee Convention from 1994.

Carovska asserts. Accordingly, this is the official position of the Government and the Ministry, which has the obligation to deal with eventual future flow of refugees on Macedonian territory.

The Proposed Strategy on Integration of Refugees and Foreigners 2017-2027 is an extension of the same strategy for the period 2009-2015, adopted by the previous government led by VMRO-DPMNE. This paper is not obligatory and those who have previously signed this strategy are aware of this fact.

We use this occasion to condemn the misinformation and the deliberate dissemination of fear and xenophobia to the citizens,

the reaction on Mila Carovska’s profile continues.

It’s worth mentioning that the Proposed Strategy on Integration of Refugees and Foreigners 2017-2027 is just an extension of the previously adopted strategies on the treatment of refugees and migrants, enacted by the previous governments. The drafting of such papers is state’s obligation deriving from international documents and declarations on the rights of refugees and migrants that bound Macedonia to prepare its own strategy on dealing with this global problem. Accordingly, the document titled STRATEGY ON INTEGRATION OF REFUGEES AND FOREIGNERS IN THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA 2008-2015 was adopted during the rule of the then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. But even before this strategy, an Inter-department Coordinating Body for integration of refugees and foreigners was formed by VMRO-DPMNE and DUI’s government in 2006. The importance of adopting such document, explained by the then Minister of Labor and Social Policy Xhelal Bajami, is available below:

The concept of developing integrating policy on immigrants should provide measures taken by the state, which will allow the immigrants to become an accountable part of the economic, social and political life in the society they have come to. Also, the respect of cultural and social differences as well as human rights and human dignity should be taken into consideration. The promotion of fundamental rights, non-discrimination and equal opportunities for everyone are key for a successful integration process,

is said in Bajami’s keynote speech, and he adds:

The Republic of Macedonia still lacks an all-embracing political document on its policy on integration of immigrants,

as well as that

This national strategy complies with other national strategies and with EU’s international legal framework. The strategy has respect for the human right of individual conduct and choice, in context of the fundamental rights of the current and the needs of the future population.

This standpoint of the then Minister for Labour and Social Policy in Gruevski’s government and member of DUI sounds “European”, but is in dissonance with what the former coalition partner of VMRO-DPMNE says nowadays when it attacks the adoption of such strategy, which is in fact extension of previous government’s policies on refugees and migrants. The Strategy on Refugees, adopted when VMRO-DPMNE was in power, suggests the same things contained in the Strategy proposed by SDSM’s government.

The following quote contains some of the initial aims set in the Strategy on Integration of Refugees and Foreigners, which paints a good picture about the refugee treatment of Nikola Gruevski’s government in 2008:

This strategy has the aim to provide swift integration of various target groups and support them during the integration process. Finally, the strategy aims to do as much as possible in order to help the majority of refugees and foreigners meet the conditions for receiving Macedonian citizenship, if they wish so, while taking into consideration that some of them might return to their country of origin, if the circumstances in the respective country change. These permanent solutions will be an important measure for the successfulness of Republic of Macedonia’s long-term integration policies.

The 2017-2027 Strategy proposed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy suggests more specific approach to the problem, i.e.:

narrowing the focus of integration and will present the strategic goals through the four main areas – housing, education, employment and obtaining citizenship, whereas the issues related to the improvement of the integration system or the measures directed toward early integration will have to cover all four areas.

Then how VMRO-DPMNE was for integration and for social inclusion of the refugees in the Republic of Macedonia in 2008, so some of them can be helped during the process of obtaining Macedonian citizenship when the new paper, which virtually extends the same policies, is condemned as contrary to the national and state interests of Macedonia? The fact that VMRO-DPMNE deliberately dissimulates the truth from the public and that they have also adopted the same papers on integration of refugees and migrants in the Macedonian society when they were in power, makes Vlatko Gjorchev’s call to the Prime Minister Zaev and the Minister Carovska to tell the public what they want “to do” sound completely different:

Zoran Zaev’s government and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Mila Carovska must immediately tell the Macedonian citizens what they want to do to the Republic of Macedonia and to huge number of municipalities in the next 10 years through their Strategy and through their Action plan.

The proposed Strategy that VMRO-DPMNE made so much fuss about and requested impeachment of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, is a public document available on Ministry’s official website, therefore Gjorchev’s claim that the Minister Carovska “neither consulted the citizens, nor the citizens know about it” is untruthful. Thus, it’s not a matter of a hidden agenda for populating Macedonia with migrants, as the opposition party tried to present. Plus, the paper shows the incorrectness of the numbers mentioned by VMRO-DPMNE when it says that SDSM’s government is preparing to create housing for 200 thousand refugees, because the paper does not contain such data i.e. a number this big and specific is mentioned nowhere in the document.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the motion to impeach Mila Carovska is one of the four impeachment motions VMRO-DPMNE lodghed in just several days against four Ministers in Zoran Zaev’s government prior the expiration of its first 100 days in power, which is the acknowledged no-aggravation timespan in the parliamentary democracies. All these elements point out that VMRO-DPMNE deliberately spins the truth in order to justify the obstructions of government’s and Parliament’s work in times when the ferocious fight for the dismissal of the Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski, heavily opposed by VMRO-DPMNE, is still under way. The aforementioned arguments clearly demonstrate that VMRO-DPMNE’s position regarding the proposed strategy, given by Vlatko Gjorchev, is classic and truth spinning.

 

 


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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