The Professor Rashkovski cannot be separated from the General Secretary Rashkovski
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev gave a statement regarding the scandal involving the General Secretary of the Government, Dragi Rashkovski, which we deem inconsistent:
First of all, this is about personal honor and dignity. We are a transparent government and we want a critical review from the media, but you cannot just insult someone, as an individual, when you feel like it. The government will not file lawsuits, our job is not to sue journalists and the media, but everyone is an individual and as such has the right to protect their dignity. Only then we will be a normal country. When we decide to perform a certain function, like serving the people etc., this does not mean that we should be a boxing bag, whenever we deserve it or not.
[Source: RFE – Zaev, statement, date: 3 July 2019]
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, when asked about the behavior of the General Secretary of the Government of RNM, Dragi Rashkovski, regarding the scandal with the tender for equipment for M-NAV (country’s civilian air control institution), decisively started defending Rashkovski, saying that he did not notice arrogant behavior from his part and that he has the right to threaten with lawsuits against journalists, media and political parties.
Zaev explained this with the right for dignity that everyone should have and mentioning the case he said that “when we decide to perform a certain function, like serving the people etc., this does not mean that we should be a boxing bag, whenever we deserve it or not”.
Without mentioning the truthfulness of the recording on which Rashkovski is heard, together with other people, talking about concluding an agreement with an Italian supplier firm based on the results of the tender, the position and the statement of Zaev with which he separates Rashkovski as General Secretary of the Government and Rashkovski as an individual is inconsistent:
The government will not file lawsuits, our job is not to sue journalists and the media, but everyone is an individual and as such has the right to protect their dignity.
When Dragi Rashkovski addresses the public at a press conference saying that he will initiate legal procedures for protection of his honor and dignity against certain individuals (given by name and surname) and some political organizations – parties, he does not mention the persons as individuals, but as journalists who, he believes, have violated his dignity, honor and reputation with their articles.
The same situation occurs vice versa. The mentioned journalists did not and do not write about Dragi Rashkovski and his actions as an individual or a professor at the Faculty of Law in Skopje, but as Rashkovski a holder of a high public office, an appointed person – General Secretary of the Government.
Therefore, the statement of Zaev, that the Government will not sue journalists, but Dragi Rashkovski, as an individual has the right to do so, is an empty phrase and it is inconsistent. If Zaev himself and other Government officials have stated several times that they are here to listen and not to argue with the public, that they need to be more tolerant to critics from the journalists and the media, then Rashkovski’s action – his statements that he will file lawsuits against the journalists – are nothing but threats for lawsuits against journalists from a high level government official.
Apart from what the practice and the European standards have shown and recommended – that the elected and appointed individuals and high level officials should have a higher level of tolerance towards public criticism, as part of the true practice of freedom of speech and media. Some of the journalism associations in the country raised their voice, including the Association of the Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), stating that Rashkovski, with his actions, is an example of how a high government official should not behave:
Such direct threats for initiating legal procedures against journalists by high government officials represent pressure on journalists which may result in self-censorship.
Having in mind the aforementioned arguments, Zaev’s statement, especially the part that the Government will not sue journalists, but that Rashkovski has the right to do so, is inconsistent.
- RFE – Заев – Рашковски не е боксерска вреќа, има право да се брани [Accessed on 4 July 2019]
- AJM – Рашковски дава пример како не треба да се однесува… [Accessed on 4 July 2019]