|Wednesday, 7 September 2011|
Address by President Veljanoski at the special session on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of independence of the Republic of Macedonia
istinguished President of the Republic of Macedonia Mr. Gjorge Ivanov,
Distinguished Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Nikola Gruevski,
Distinguished former President of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Branko Crvenkovski,
Distinguished Mrs. Vilma Trajkovska, wife of the former President of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Boris Trajkovski,
Distinguished former Presidents of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia,
Distinguished former Prime Ministers of the Republic of Macedonia,
Distinguished representatives of the judiciary,
Distinguished Members of Parliament, representatives of the religious communities, members of the Diplomatic Core,
Distinguished members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Republic of Macedonia is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its independence.
These days we proudly remember the past two decades during which we realized the age-old dreams of the previous generations.
Our homeland is paying respect to the successes from the past, at the same time looking towards the future.
There is no greater confirmation of the love and respect we fell towards our country than our unity demonstrated this 8 September, when we celebrate the realization of the ancient Macedonian dream for creation of an independent state.
This great anniversary deserves to be celebrated appropriately.
This glorious day in our recent history lays the foundations of our responsibility towards Macedonia, as politicians and as human beings.
There is no greater joy for a nation than the creation of an independent state.
8 September is the day that unites as all under the sun in Macedonia.
8 September is the day when the political differences disappear before the greatness of the work left to us as their posterity.
Finally, the importance of 8 September is the measuring unit for this generation of Macedonian politicians, and their results will determine the meaning of all the anniversaries in future.
Besides independence, on this day the citizens of our country also celebrate freedom and everything it represents.
The moral of the nation, the unity and the strength of Macedonia are being raised and preserved.
On this day we reaffirm our loyalty to the state in which we live, in which our children live, and in which we are building our future.
Because of all this, and because of many other things, the Republic of Macedonia fully deserves to celebrate its birthday.
The celebration of the Independence Day is a very important event for every country.
The celebration of Day of Independence does not symbolize only the act of its creation.
On the contrary, this day brings much more and has a much deeper symbolic and fundamental meaning.
Every 8 September Macedonia remembers the centuries-old fight of the generations of Macedonians for freedom, for justice, for life in dignity.
Every 8 September we remember the centuries-old ideals of all our ancestors for independence and for living a dignified life.
Every 8 September Macedonia remembers that the opportunity to celebrate this day did happen come by chance. It was a result of the Macedonian movement throughout centuries that preserved the Macedonian nation, culture and tradition.
By recognizing the successes from the past, on this day we also lay the projections for the years to come.
The ideals of our predecessors determine the greatness of our aspirations.
The legacy of the Ilinden Uprising and of the Krusevo Manifest fully reflect the desire of the Macedonians for peace, coexistence and for bright future.
Without the sacrifices of our ancestors Macedonia and everything that is our characteristic would have been obliterated forever.
Because of this, our obligation on this day is remember all those that gave their contribution for the preservation of the Macedonian heritage.
By celebrating the 9 of September we keep the memory of the glorious Ilinden revolutionaries that never stooped to the challenges in those difficult times.
Even in the most difficult and seemingly hopeless years of occupation and ruthless assimilation they kept on nurturing the Macedonian tradition and the Macedonian spirit.
The great people like Goce Delchev, Nikola Karev, Dame Gruev, Pitu Guli, Jane Sandanski and many others that created the first Republic in this part of Europe and in whose honour and memory today we build monuments, succeeded to prevent the vanishing of the Macedonian national flame. Their self-sacrifice and timeless work are a great legacy for us, their successors.
The possibility to live the future they dreamed of is an obligation to enable the same to our children, their children, and the children of their children.
Apart from the great revolutionaries, on this day we have the obligation to pay respect to those that fought in the National Liberation War.
They carried on the continuity of the Macedonian fight for independence during World War II.
The great people like Metodija Andonov Cento and the heroes of the partisan movement are responsible for the creation of the first Macedonian state, although as part of a greater entity.
Building on their collective work, exactly 20 years ago this generation of Macedonian citizens managed to succeed in achieving true state sovereignty and independence.
Finally we had a state we could call our own!
We succeeded in achieving the historic goal, to decide on our own about our future and to create our own destiny.
However, as history has shown, our struggle was no less complex that that of our renowned ancestors.
In the nineties of the 20th century there were events which we wish did not happen the way they did.
The region was torn apart by wars and divisions.
The instability around us threatened to sweep away our new and fragile Macedonian democracy.
The circumstances were far from facilitating for a country that was making its first steps in the world of democracy.
Only with the help of the wise politics of the Macedonian state leaders at the time did Macedonia succeed in staying away from the whirlwind of the Yugoslav wars that resulted in numerous casualties and enormous damage to all the newly-formed Balkan countries.
However, although Macedonia managed to preserve the friendly relations with all the former Yugoslav republics, we were forced to face equally great challenges of a different kind.
Because of the name that has for centuries identified our community and the people that live on this territory, we endured many injustices that were also very costly for us.
In order to survive these difficult times, made even harder by the embargo imposed by Greece, we had to make big concessions that at times threatened to undermine our dignity.
The changing of the national flag and the constitution in 1995, in the interest of maintain the good-neighbourly relations, was not recognized by Greece as a sincere gesture of the Republic of Macedonia for peaceful coexistence with the other countries in the region.
Although, together with Slovenia, Macedonia was the first Republic that fulfilled all the conditions for independence and membership in the United Nations, we were denied this. All of this did not contribute to the stability of the country and to the development of democracy.
What many people did not understand then, and cannot comprehend today, regarding the name issue, is the fact that today Macedonia today does not belong only to us.
The Macedonian heritage is not the property and right only of this or of any other generation of Macedonians.
As much as it is ours, the Macedonian heritage belongs to our contemporaries, but also to the great revolutionaries, to the people that fought in WWII, but also to all the future generations of Macedonians.
Having in mind the enormous responsibility towards everything that is ours, it must be clear that we cannot and we must not allow making decisions that we have no right to make. Then again, what would we be if we were not Macedonians?
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
The 90-ties of the 20th century brought another great challenge that left a lasting mark on our history.
The transition from “property belonging to the whole society” to market economy was an enormous challenge for our country.
The process of privatization that was supposed to result in a peaceful transition was devastating and was the cause of long-standing problems that left deep scars on the Macedonian society and the standard of living of the citizens.
The inadequate preparations for implementation of this transition resulted in the closing of many factories and companies that were the pillars of the Macedonian economy and that provided the basic existence for hundreds of thousands of our citizens.
The insufficient understanding of the capitalist system, as well as misuse of authority in this period additionally hampered the fledgling Macedonian economy that needed good management in order to overcome the crisis caused by the embargoes and the introduction of the national currency.
The consequences of this national disaster are still felt today.
As a result, we were faced with enormous increase of unemployment, huge numbers of redundant workers, and general decline of the standard of living in the country.
The tragedy and the injustice made in this period were overwhelming.
Thousands of families were suffering under the great pressure and stress caused by the economic instability and the struggle for existence.
It is tragic that almost an entire generation of Macedonians had to live in inhumane and undignified conditions in the period of transition.
We still remember these times with unease. However, when we look back and see what we endured and overcome, I must say I feel proud.
In the last decade of the 20th century Macedonia showed that it has unyielding spirit and uncompromising will for survival.
Only extremely tough nations can deal with such astounding problems.
Macedonia showed that it can overcome all the temptations and challenges.
The lessons we learned and the knowledge we gained that makes us wiser will be a guarantee that we will never again have to go through such a difficult and dark period.
The tests to our commitment to continue on our path, to live, and to work on ensuring better future, are an additional proof for our dedication. The commitment to persevere was not in vain.
Surviving the early years of independence, we succeeded in ensuring better times for the country.
Adapting to the new rules of the game, brought by market economy, slowly but surely we begun to make steps towards success. We may have needed more time to learn the new skills, but from today’s perspective we can freely say that Macedonia is an emerging European economy.
In the next decade we focused on the economic development, because we knew that this will bring change in the life in Macedonia.
And we were not wrong to do this.
The economy is the universal language spoken by the developed world.
We made big steps in a very short time.
We managed to attract the attention of the big corporations that have power and interest to spread their business in our country.
To utilize their traditionally prudence and sound logic, that is also the foundations of our culture, in the world of economy, proved to be the right approach.
Macedonia showed the big business that it knows how to take care of those that invest in the country.
It gives me great pleasure to say that this strategy is beneficial for all.
The hope that with the increase of the economic power we could improve the lives of the people in other areas is becoming evident.
In the last ten years the primary focus, apart from the economy, was on improvement of the judicial system, and on the fight against corruption and organized crime.
We knew that besides economic stability the other most important thing for the citizens is their safety and the rule of law.
Having in mind the fact that these two things are closely related and intertwined, we made enormous efforts to make the greatest possible progress in the shortest possible time.
I am convinced that we succeeded in this.
This policy should continue to be part of our work as long as we have the important duty and obligation to run the country.
The laws are here in order to be respected.
The development of the interethnic relations was the next chapter that marks this important anniversary.
Macedonia is a country that belongs equally to the Macedonians but, also to the Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Roma, Vlachs, Bosniaks…
The belief in Macedonia and the feeling to be in your own place under the sun unites us all, regardless of the language in which we speak and the God to whom we say our prayers.
Although in this respect we were faced with obstacles, as in the past, in 2001 Macedonia wrote its new Krusevo Manifest with the Framework Agreement.
This strengthened further the foundations of our common state.
We showed that the love for Macedonia can be expressed not only in Macedonian, but also in the languages of our compatriots with some other nationality.
The Macedonian culture and tradition make us distinct and what we are.
During these last 20 years we started to know and celebrate our culture and our historic values in the right way.
We did not forget who we are and where we come from.
We did not let the apathy of the socialist management infiltrate our new democratic reality.
We did not allow the great names of our rich and heroic past to be ever forgotten.
Finally, as every normal state, we did not forget to have a place where we will lay flowers and pay our respects to the prominent ancestors that gave their lives so that we can live in freedom we have today.
In the past 20 years we proved that we know how to secure the future development of the Macedonian culture, history and tradition.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since its independence the Republic of Macedonia has clearly expressed its wish to become an integral part of the Western World to which we belong naturally.
This commitment was adopted based on the feelings of all the citizens and the relevant political and social entities.
This general consensus is lasts also today, regardless of the differences that naturally occur among the political parties.
I am convinced that this consensus will continue to be supported with the same intensity and consistency by all the relevant factors, especially if we have in mind the development of Macedonia in this field in the last 20 years.
Our joint commitments for Euro-Atlantic future must be adequately supported with our own work.
Only with joint cooperation we will succeed in getting the maximum of what the membership in the European Union and NATO can offer to the Republic of Macedonia. Otherwise, we can expect bitter struggle, primarily among ourselves, which will be very costly, and we must not allow that to happen.
The development of democracy, the rule of law and the reforms in the other fields are processes that deserve and need support from all the political factors.
The reforms are primarily in the interest of Macedonia and its citizens.
With their implementation Macedonia will get closer to the criteria this organizations have set for those wanting to join them. This proved to be the right thing to do on several occasions. This was the case with the visa liberalization – step that the Macedonian citizens have been eagerly waiting since the visa regime was introduced.
The measures we are undertaking in order to improve the quality of the life of the citizens were the reason for getting the recommendation for opening the accession negotiations with the European Union.
Although they rarely had the wider political support they deserve, the results proved that they really deserved this support.
Additionally, this support would have contributed to easing of the unnecessary tensions that are characterizing the Macedonian political scene in the recent years.
Because of this, I appeal to all the relevant factors to sincerely and in good faith try to give their contribution for the realization of the remaining goals of the Republic of Macedonia.
Regarding the integration in NATO, the Republic of Macedonia has fulfilled all the necessary criteria in 2008.
The modernization of the Army, which was carried out in accordance with the standards set by the member countries of the Alliance, was successfully completed and positively assessed, which was confirmed at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest.
Despite all this, Macedonia remains dedicated to the continuation of the close cooperation with the countries it considers its allies.
We all share the same responsibility towards Macedonia.
Let us show that we are united and that we have the strength to climb even higher peaks, ready to boldly face all the challenges on our way.
Our political differences must disappear before the important affairs of the state.
We must reaffirm the unity among all the political parties in the country.
The citizens expect from us unity and cooperation.
There is no greater reason for unity than MACEDONIA!
There is no greater reason for unity than THE FUTURE OF OUR CITIZENS!
There is no greater reason for demonstration of this unity than 8 SEPTEMBER!
I would like to greet you al with this message.
Let us live in peace with ourselves, with our fellow citizens, and with all those that are different from us.
Let us all be good Christians and good Muslims.
Let us continue to love our country even more than before, because it is the only place in this world we can call our home.
Let us enjoy in our posterity that is the future of this country, because everything we do would be useless if there is no one we can leave it to.
Happy 20th anniversary to our young country with its old biblical nation.
Long live and prosper our homeland, the Republic of Macedonia.