Thursday, 29 July 2021
Address of President Xhaferi at the Solemn Session of the Inter-Community Relations Committee on the 20th anniversary of the Ohrid Framework Agreement
Dear First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Mr. Artan Grubi,
Distinguished Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia,
Distinguished coordinators, fellow MPs,
Distinguished Chair of the Inter-Community Relations Committee, Ms. Arbana Pasholi,
Distinguished former and current members of the Committee,
Distinguished Secretary General of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, Ms. Cvetanka Ivanova,
Dear media representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad that today the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, with this solemn session of the Inter-Community Relations Committee, as a concrete body arising from the Ohrid Framework Agreement, established by the Assembly, with its competencies determined in accordance with Amendment XII of the Constitution and the Law on Inter-Community Relations Committee, which naturally gives it the right to be engaged, is part of the multi-day celebration of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement or the Peace Treaty, as we rightly call it. I will not talk now about how it came about, and why the agreement was signed in Ohrid, because whatever I say will be repeated a hundred times. The political representatives at that time, with the unreserved support and encouragement of our international strategic partners and many times proven friends, bravely, wisely and with a far-sighted vision helped to achieve the truce – with open and direct political dialogue in the beautiful Ohrid, a city where the new structure for our inter-ethnic cohesion was set up, by establishing the new rules of social cohesion which would be the strongest and most solid foundation on which we will all build our Euro-Atlantic future together. There were people then and there are people now who are not fully convinced of the necessity, capacity, effectiveness and results of this agreement, but if we are completely honest with ourselves and with everyone, we will not be able to turn a blind eye to the obvious transformation of our society.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I mentioned at the beginning of my address, the establishment of the Committee in 2002 was a new moment for all of us, but if we look from today's perspective, it was the most appropriate way to provide space, time and place to express the needs, elaborate the situation, to consider issues that directly affected the ethnic communities in our country, whose mutual relationship, or no relationship at all, was a stumbling block and an obstacle to the growth and development of the country, an obstacle to progress, integration and contribution to the regional, European and world processes and actions, and you can not contribute globally, if you do not have peace and relaxed relationships inside, at home, with mutual respect of each member of the family, even of the youngest. If we think and look objectively at the social discourse of that time, it is sad that a mechanism had to be established to regulate relations between communities, ensuring the rights of non-majority communities in the country, enabling the right to express oneself and learn in one's own letter and language, the right to express the identity and uniqueness of the ethnic community in the field of culture, information, publishing and other areas and, the implementation of the principle of adequate and equitable representation of citizens belonging to all communities in state bodies and other public institutions at all levels. I say sad, because all these are so natural and elementary rights that should not have even been on the agenda, if we were all sufficiently aware and freed from prejudice, self-righteousness and the unrealistic opinion that someone has more and someone less right to feel this small but beautiful country its own, and to enjoy all the rights and benefits that life offers in the Republic of North Macedonia. However, I am proud that we persevered, and as I said above, we transformed as a society, we matured as politicians, as citizens, our horizons opened and we managed to see the big picture, in front of which we all stand together, with a clear common goal before us - and that is, the Republic of North Macedonia to be a success story for an advanced, modern parliamentary democracy, a full member of NATO and the large European family, home to all members of different ethnic communities, home to all citizens!
Without further ado, I would just wish the Committee successful work and as little hot issues for consideration as possible, and may it be a forum in the future where we rejoice and cheer together for the successes of our country in the field of sports, be proud for the heights reached in culture, art and make a toast to our full membership in the European Union.
Thank you for your attention!