Ivo Ivanovski is the Republic of Macedonia's Minister of Information Society and Administration, and was appointed as Chairman of the Fifth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum that took place in Geneva from 14-16 May. In an exclusive interview with The Global Journal, Ivanovski explained the importance of the role of governments in the multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance.

You chaired the last edition of the WTPF in Geneva. What were the major outcomes? 

The major outcome of the latest WTPF edition is that all six draft opinions were unanimously adopted. They were revised and endorsed by the working groups and proposed in front of the member states and sector members before the start of the forum.

In Dubai, it was almost impossible to discuss anything related to the Internet, so some progress has been made since then. During the WTPF, the role of governments in the multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance was recognized by most delegates, even from the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Germany. Yet, there is still a major divide on the role of governments within this model – should the ITU or ICANN committee have authority?

The role of government in the multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance continues to be a hot topic. We were able to hear from the CEO of ICANN, Fadi Chehade, and ITU Secretary-General, Hamadoun Toure, that both institutions are open to further discussions and suggestions to find an appropriate role for governments. None of them are trying to extend their roles in Internet governance. These statements gave confidence to the members that no one institution is trying to monopolize the Internet and that there is a place for all stakeholders.

The Brazilian proposal, which received quite broad support, sought to have the role of governments debated within the WTPF. Some countries suggested the ITU was not the appropriate venue and the US invited Brazil to engage in a bilateral discussion on the improvement of Internet governance practices. Do you feel this approach is the right way to reach a better understanding?

The term bilateral means that only two sides are involved. Multi-stakeholder means multiple parties are involved. Bilateral meetings are always welcome, especially when two parties cannot agree on a particular issue so that other parties are not restricted. The role of the government is not only to have one-to-one discussions. It is a good start, but the discussion should occur in multiple forums, conferences and meetings that include multiple parties and not just a select few. That is why most of the members during the WTPF 13 suggested appropriate venues so that this question could be discussed openly. But the list was not finalized, since everybody should be talking about this.

The Council of the European Union (EU) recognized the treaty changes proposed in Dubai in December were not contrary to European interests. Even though the EU issued no mandate to negotiate or vote during WCIT-12, member states nonetheless argued the changes were not acceptable. Could you elaborate and does this concern you?

This issue was not raised during the WTPF and I cannot comment on it.

Over the next 12 months, what significant progress do you anticipate in the sphere of Internet governance?

I think in 12 months we will see continuous increases in broadband connectivity around the world, especially by utilizing 3G and 4G technologies. The Broadband Commission for Digital Development has set new goals, regarding affordability and accessibility of broadband for countries in order to accelerate the progress of the Millennium Development Goals. These goals will materialize if there is fair play in the market place.

Another impact that can have positive results in European countries is the initiative of the European Commission regarding flat rate roaming charges for all countries in Europe. This will increase mobile usage when people travel abroad. Currently these charges are very high. That is why the Republic of Macedonia has proposed an initiative before the EU regarding roaming charges together with the Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro.

I also think that in the next 12 months we will see more consolidation of telecom operators in the EU. This can produce stronger telecom operators, which will foster innovation and aid the European economy.

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