Thursday, October 24, 2019, Strasbourg
Address of the President of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia at the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament on the topic "Our Common European Home": the next 70 years
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me, on behalf of the Members of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia and on my own behalf to congratulate everyone on the marking of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Council of Europe, the leading human rights organization on the continent, with 47 European member states, which aside from being on the same continent, have one more, very important thing in common, that is, they are signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is actually a treaty for the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Republic of North Macedonia has been a member state since 1995 and has been actively cooperating with all the bodies of the Council of Europe during that time.
Many changes have taken place since the establishment of the Council, both politically and geographically. One can freely say that the original idea of Europe as a common home of all has now spread beyond the borders of the European continent. And why not, when the principles proclaimed by and underlying the work of the Council are those of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, an organization representing nearly all of the world's states. The world we live in today differs from the world in which the Council was founded, but the fundamentals are the same, democratic and essential, and those are the rule of law and respect for human rights and freedoms. Therefore, all people, without exception, have the right to a free, dignified life without being denied the right to life, movement, learning, working and creating, the exercise of rights and fair and equal treatment before the judicial authorities and state institutions. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to respect the democratic rights and principles that have long been established and accepted by states - signatories of international conventions. However, the most important thing is that this is respected and practiced by all. Because, in reality, all of us as human beings, as individuals, have our own traits, characteristics, aspirations, and desires, sometimes realistic, sometimes unrealistic, but it is important that they are based on shared values and principles. Let us not allow divisions, let us not have second and third-class citizens, because feeding those demons, supporting new, self-centered and self-willed leaders who will outweigh the common good to achieve their egoistic goals will not bring anything good to anyone. Differences are beautiful only when they are part of a puzzle that comprises the whole picture without lines of division and discord. Otherwise, the picture will be gloomy and sad, full of pain that I know young generations are unaware of, and hopefully will never know. However, all of us who have once tasted that bitterness or experienced it, or have been told about by our fathers or grandfathers, we have a moral obligation not to let it be felt by either the present or future generations. We have an obligation to teach them to live together with each other, not next to one another, to sympathize with the joy, but also with the pain of the other because first of all and above all, we are all citizens of this world which, no matter how complex and difficult, if established on the true values of mutual respect and understanding, can be very simple and beautiful. And this was precisely the purpose of establishing the Council of Europe, to unite diversity, to respect particularities, but also to find a common platform to develop and promote cooperation and understanding between states, peoples and people in order to create a more beautiful a common home for all, a home in which everyone will feel equal and protected, without national, religious, economic, social, cultural, gender, sexual or any other discrimination. A world in which everyone has an equal opportunity for education, health care, to work and create, a world in which everyone has the right to a clean environment and clean air. Is there anything more beautiful than satisfied citizens who feel their country as their home, who work and contribute to its progress and development?
The Republic of North Macedonia, its citizens, its state and public institutions, the political actors from the government and opposition, the NGO sector and all human potential, have always been consistent with the ratified Universal Conventions for human rights and freedoms, even through all the turbulent times that appear to be an integral part of the Balkans, and the same have been incorporated into the Constitution of the country since its independence and are fully respected, as it is a guarantee of peace at home, of security in the region and beyond in the world. The Republic of North Macedonia has been working hard to promote and strengthen good neighbourly relations because we believe that together, as regions, we can send multiple messages of unity and power to tackle contemporary threats that without selection knock on everyone's door, be it small or a larger state. Globalization, technological advances and the widespread use of social media as a means of communication, the dissemination of false or truthful information, policy making and creating public opinion in an increasingly sophisticated ways and methods, requires us to research and find more effective methods of preventing harm that can be inflicted by this type of destructive behavior. Safeguarding peace and providing dignified living conditions is our responsibility.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe you are all already informed and aware of the latest developments regarding our expectations for getting a date to start accession negotiations with the European Union, something that unfortunately failed to happen, despite the several successive reports that noted the positive progress of the Republic of North Macedonia. The same was also confirmed during the EU summit by the EU member states, namely, that we had consistently done our homework, and (to put it in military language) our room for manoeuvre ends here. We are familiar with the principle of decision-making in the EU, that is, it must be consensual by all member states. If a question arises as to whether the arguments for not setting a date hold water, I would refrain from commenting. But if you are wondering where we go and which way we take from here on, I can tell you responsibly and confidently - for us there is no alternative other than the one set up since the country's independence, and that is full membership in the EU and NATO, a more diligent continuation with the reforms, for the good of our citizens, for the progress and development of our country, for Europe in the Republic of North Macedonia.
Dear colleagues, thank you for your attention!