Interview with Teodora Dimitrovska: from youngest mayoral candidate in North Macedonia to advocating regional cooperation and youth activism

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Dear Teodora, please introduce yourself to our readers!

I am Teodora Dimitrovska from North Macedonia. My education is focused on law and legal science. Specifically, in 2021, I graduated from the Faculty of Law in Skopje. Immediately after graduation, I enrolled in Master’s studies in International Public Law and Law of the European Union, earning the title Master of European Union Law in 2023. Following the completion of my master’s studies, I enrolled in doctoral studies at the same faculty, currently specialising in industrial property law. I would like to describe myself as persistent, determined, and always oriented towards new successes and challenges in my career path.

Look back at the start of your political activism. What was your motivation? What was the reason behind your decision to be actively engaged in politics?

My political career started informally and unexpectedly. A liberal organisation in Macedonia organised a training on liberalism, coincidentally covering the subject I was studying in constitutional law during my undergraduate studies. Interested in that ideology, I joined the seminar, where I gained a more in-depth understanding of what liberalism represents, its ideology, the Liberal Democratic Party in Macedonia, and their position on the Macedonian political scene. At that moment, I was not aware that my love, passion, and obsession with politics were born. From that point, I became an activist, driven by the energy and spirit of the people I met from the party. I decided that I genuinely want to join in advocating and defending liberal ideology in Macedonia, as well as contribute personally to building North Macedonia as a better place to live.

What are the most valuable lessons you learned through political activism? What skills and knowledge helped you to acquire?

As I have been actively involved in politics for more than 5 years, during which I went through 2 election cycles and also ran as a candidate, I believe that the greatest skill gained through politics is perseverance. Perseverance is what sustains us in all the toughest moments, helps us believe in the impossible, and trust that what we are doing is genuinely good for us and our community. Politics has also given me a lot of courage, enthusiasm, and persistence for everything in life. Through politics, I learned how to fight for what I want, how to stand up for my ideals, values, and the things I work hard for. I learned that if you believe in yourself, others will believe in you, and above all, I learned how to be free in conversation and debate with every person.

Share with us one memory, anecdote, or a story from your political experience that you cherish the most.

For me, the most significant moment in my political career was my candidacy for mayor in 2021. In that year, my party nominated me as the candidate for mayor of the municipality of Kumanovo, the largest municipality in North Macedonia. I became a candidate at the young age of 2021, making history as the youngest candidate in independent Macedonia and the second woman candidate for mayor in my municipality. That candidacy changed the course of my entire life. Among all the positive and negative aspects, one incident stands out as the most influential in that campaign, representing how young people entering politics are treated.

Given that the local elections in my municipality gained nationwide attention for various political reasons, I was in competition with four other candidates, where I was the only woman and the youngest candidate. All candidates participated in debates on national television. However, one national television station decided to exclude me from the debate, citing that I was too young and would not influence the election result. Their defence also claimed they lacked sufficient technical equipment and seating for me. This incident further encouraged me, and on the day of the debate, I went to the television station and live-streamed a video, which subsequently garnered over 500,000 views. This situation emphasised to me that every person should stand by themselves, fight for what they represent, and never give up, regardless of the situation they are in.

Why did you decide to join the Political Youth Network? Have you previously had experience in regional cooperation? What does regional cooperation mean to you?

I believe that regional cooperation is a necessary precondition for increasing the importance of youth activism and youth policies. Although every youth in their respective national state acts and has a certain influence on current political events, I consider that to legitimise and make political elites aware of how crucial young people are for the stability of a state, it is necessary to unite the youth and engage in collective action through regional networks, forums, and various forms of collaboration.

Nowadays, we are faced with global challenges that require a lot of solidarity and responsibility. What is your desired vision for the region in the next 10 years? What message do you have for the politically active young people in the region?

We face numerous challenges that call for a change in the rhetoric when conducting politics. I believe that the states in the region need new energy, a new generation of politicians who are unspoiled, uncorrupted, and individuals who genuinely look towards the future. They should work in the interest of both the state and the region to achieve greater progress. I believe that new, young, and educated individuals are needed, offering fresh perspectives. These individuals should view the state and politics as a forum for competition between ideas and knowledge, rather than a battleground for power struggles and corruption.

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