Nikola Cvetkoski from North Macedonia

Nikola Cvetkoski is 25 years old, and lives in Skopje. He works as a journalist and has been involved in politics from a young age.  

* In 2019 the name of the country was officially changed from Macedonia to North Macedonia. Nikola does not agree with the name change and prefers Macedonia.

What does democracy mean to you?

Democracy is giving legitimacy to rule, it means that I as an individual can choose who will rule. Ability to give an individual the opportunity to rule over your society and you. Democracy is also having the possibility to be elected, you then have the valuable opportunity to be part of the system and to change and improve it. Democracy is a tool to avoid societal conflict, looking at our history how violently the changes have been made before. It is now an opportunity to do better than our past. Democracy is an ability to change a ruler without using or having any violence in the process.

How is the democracy in your country?

Democracy in my country is still very “young”. The people here are not used to democracy, especially the older generations. Some are still used to the way it was before, when we were part of the former Yugoslavia. During the communist regime. That is why the democracy here is still very underdeveloped, they do not really know how to properly practice democracy here. The older generation does try to do so, but they do not do it in the right way, they still have a lot to improve and learn. 

What developments do you see that are shaping democracy, in a positive or negative way, in your country?

The most positive change I see happening in my country is the: mutli-party system. The parties who are competing with each other in a positive way. The people and voters have more experience and know what they can expect from the politicians. They understand now what the vote of the people will do to our society.

The political parties have in almost every aspect opposite opinions. They do not have the ability to agree on anything. The way politicians work affects the people. The people who vote for different parties are like the politicians, they cannot agree on anything. I think this is very unfortunate in our society because it is not necessary. They are creating great divisions. The biggest divisions in the past were ethnic and religious, but now, they are political.

The ethnic minority political parties do not really care about general policies and laws, they strictly care about their ethnic issues. Which divides us and is not very well received by society. They should not only be occupied with ethnic issues, but with real opportunities in the country. The political division is reflected in daily life within our society.

What do you like about politics and what motivates you to work in politics?

I have been in politics for 11 years, and I am slowly losing to see the positive aspects of it. When you get elected you are not being chosen because you have amazing capabilities, you get chosen because you are someone different than the one before you. You can have the best capabilities and the best qualities, but those are not seen by the people. You do not get chosen based on your potential or your value, but the lack of it in the previous candidate.

The greatest motivation I have is I want to change the current system and political behavior. I want to be an example for the people, on how a politician should look like and how a politician should behave. The younger generation are already trying to be an example on how it should be like. My motivation is to become an example for all generations and not just the younger generations.

Of which political achievement are you most proud? And what do you hope to achieve

My practical achievement which I am proud of, is in my local community. One time we had many potholes on our street. We decided to do something with these holes. We filled the gaps with earth and planted flowers in them. We called the media and they saw what we did and the next day, the municipality fixed our street.

My theoretical achievement which I am also proud of, is together with the political-science committee. We have done big research on our youth: What are the main challenges of our youth and how can we change them? Why do they refuse to participate in politics, why are they moving out of our country and how do we stop them from moving away? We also compared the two biggest youth political organizations in my country. We compared how often they do activism and what ideology they promote.

I believe that the younger generation should improve their country, and not get the easy way out by doing nothing for your society and country where you were born. It is easier to go to a country that already has a stable government, but you are not helping your own society. I do realize that there are not as many opportunities here as in other countries when you look at job opportunities.  They do not really pay you enough here. It is not very pleasant when you have a compelling CV, but someone is only hiring you, because they know you or somebody you know, knows them. Again, your qualities and capabilities are not being seen.  

What I personally hope to achieve, I hope to have an impact on the public opinion in a positive way. An impact that will transfer knowledge and information, that is based on facts. This way the people know how to decide when voting and what is important for our society.

What kind of support would you, or other young people active in your country, need more?

In general, I think young people in my country need to have more free time to be active in non-governmental organizations and politics. The young people here are inexperienced in work and usually they have not finished their studies. A lot of them are being exploited by companies, in order to pay for their studies. They cannot really engage in society without free time.

I myself am very grateful that I have gotten a scholarship. Currently, I am doing my master studies, and it is quite expensive. This scholarship is what helped me get through. If it was not for the Konrad Adenauer foundation, I would not be able to even start my post-graduate studies. The foundation stepped up and paid for my master’s degree.

What is the added value of the trainings from organizations like the EFF to the political development of the youth in your country?

I believe trainings in political behavior is very important. As a political scientist, I already know a lot about political behavior, but some might not really know much about it. I believe that the trainings are very useful, especially the networking, making a connection with people with similar political and ideological thinking. When I was on the young leader’s program, I managed through networking to form a solid network throughout the Balkan countries. What I think is missing in the trainings is the possibility to also connect to young people from countries outside the Balkans, like Greece or Bulgaria.  These countries are also important to us.  We are politicians, communication and dialogue are what we need to have, to do better for our countries and region. Now we do not really know much about each other, and we do not trust each other. Therefore, I would like to have the opportunity to meet each other.

What do you hope to see change in your country?

In my country, I hope to see a lot of change. I want to see that my country starts acting sovereignly, because I believe that our political system does not reflect the people and culture of our society. We are now copying the Western European countries and their laws, but we have very different cultures. We need to have a political system that is proper for the culture of our people and not another country. We have a problem with the rule of law here because something that might be adequate in Western countries might not be adequate here. We must adapt our own laws to the behavior and culture of our own people. As an example, if you put a sign in a Western European country, like Germany, where the sign says it is a one-way street, you will just need a sign. But in Turkey besides that sign there is a blockade that will rip your tires, the sign here is not enough.


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