We mourn the loss of our friend, our member, a Man with a capital letter, a man of a good heart, a man with a beautiful soul, a man of calming presence and incredible charm. An immense void remains in the hearts of those who knew him. There are no words that can fill that empty space.

Born in Skopje in 1982, he completed secondary economics school and the Faculty of Economics in Skopje, then earned a master’s degree in information systems at Lund University in Sweden. Ilija played a pivotal role as a youth activist in founding and shaping the Macedonian Debate Association and the Youth Educational Forum (MOF), where he served as the executive director from 2007 to 2010. From 2017 onwards, Ilija was deeply committed to spearheading digital communications within the Government of North Macedonia. He was a pioneer in the development of the concept of digital accountability and transparency, making the Macedonian Government a regional leader in proactive transparency and accountability. As an advisor for digital communications to Prime Ministers Zaev, Spasovski, and Kovacevski, Ilija actively fought against disinformation and hybrid attacks on democracy at home and supported the efforts of his colleagues abroad. His extensive domestic, regional, and international experience made a significant impact.

Ilija has been a driving force within the European Digital Diplomacy Exchange (EDDE) since from the start. He was a strong supporter before it launched and its greatest advocate in the following years. He served as a Steering Board member, contributing to the network’s mission of enhancing collective capacities for the effective protection of democracies in the digital information space. We could always count on his expertise and engagement.

Beyond his professionalism and commitment, he became someone who we could all call a dear friend – and this is what we will remember first and foremost. He was the first to offer a seat at his table, and the last to leave a conversation. He was slow to speak, but quick to make an impression. He was an imposing-looking man with the gentlest smile. If EDDE is a network of colleagues, Ilija made it a network of friends.

Dear Ilija, you left too early. You will continue being our source of inspiration and the legacy you left behind will never be forgotten. We’ll save a pizza burek for you until we meet again.