Friday, September 6, 2019
Address of the President Xhaferi on the Occasion of September 8 – Independence Day
Distinguished President of the Republic of North Macedonia,
Distinguished Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia,
Dear colleagues from the current and previous parliamentary compositions,
Distinguished representatives of the judiciary, academia,
Distinguished representatives of the local self-government,
Representatives of the religious communities,
Representatives of the diplomatic corps in the Republic of North Macedonia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome at the celebration of this exceptionally important historic day. I am honored to host this event today, as in fact the custom implies, since it was here, in the legislature, in the House of Citizens, exactly twenty-eight years ago, that our colleagues from that parliamentary composition put the citizens' decision on paper and brought it to life. It was a decision arising from the referendum held on September 8, 1991 when the centuries-long dream, the centuries-long desire for a free, independent, sovereign state came true as citizens opted for such an independent, sovereign state whose fundamental postulates for the development of civil society were incorporated in the highest legislative act - the country's constitution. In addition, strategic goals that were crucial to the country's progress were also set, goals for which we had and still share a common commitment, a commitment of the majority of citizens since the very beginning of independence, which is full membership and integration into the European Union and NATO.
A lot of things have changed since that day, many beautiful but some not so beautiful events. We grew, we got over childhood illnesses, some faster and some are still lasting, but along the way we learned and drew lessons, just like a newborn, right? Whether we are now mature enough, wise enough or progressive, I do not want to state but one thing I know, time will tell. Time is the best indicator of how careful we have been, how careful we are, or think to be in future with what we have. Will we know how to nurture it to grow, evolve and be an example to which the region and the world will point out the finger at, and whether it will be for good or for bad?
Ladies and gentlemen,
In these 28 years of independence, all of which were part of the decision making, implementing and living with decisions made by this or that political actor, they worked hard on an internal, but also external plan for the Republic of North Macedonia to be a state of equal citizens today, a state in which both individual and collective human rights are respected. A society that functions multi-ethnically, multi-culturally and multi-confessionaly and, as such, is a positive example for the region and the world.
The legislature, the place where the debate and the proposed legislation to implement the necessary reforms take place, and where heated disputes actually happen, was and is a true indicator of how mature we are, how much we have learned to listen to each other, to respect each other, be considerate of different opinions, and listen to constructive and well-intended suggestions. In a word, how high is the level of true parliamentary democracy and political culture we have reached. To be honest, though some may find it immodest, I am still proud that our Assembly, as was confirmed by the European Commission Progress Report too, is the only truly functioning assembly in the region in which all political parties are actively involved, both the governing and the opposition. We engage in a transparent political dialogue that takes place in the public eye. At the same time, we are open to co-operation with domestic, foreign institutions, the civil sector and others. We actively participate in all regional and international events because we want to actively participate in building genuine, relaxed relationships in the region and beyond. Because we believe that dialogue is the solution to any misunderstanding, and only through sincere and transparent approach to any problem we will come to the best mutually acceptable solution.
I am convinced that, despite the great challenges we have dealt with, we have the strength, will, determination and vision of where we want to see the Republic of North Macedonia, and what kind of home we wish and build for our esteemed citizens. And today we are very close to achieving our strategic goals - full membership in the EU and NATO. All institutions, the non-governmental sector, all the citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia are unanimously and unwaveringly committed to meeting the requirements for full membership in these international alliances and we all justly expect to be part of NATO and the EU. With regard to NATO, you know that the dynamics of ratification of the Protocol is going at an unprecedented pace. Of the 29 NATO member states, 21 have already ratified the Protocol and four are in the process of ratification, giving us the right to believe that the process will be completed by the NATO Summit in London, in December this year, when we would finally become the 30. full member state of this powerful political and military alliance. We are simultaneously working on achieving the second strategic objective, for which we believe that, in October, the Council of the European Union will make the long-awaited decision - a specific date for the start of negotiations.
Membership in the European Union and NATO implies the rule of law and legal order in the country without discrimination, with respect for the rights and freedoms of all citizens equally, regardless of their ethnic, religious, racial, political affiliation or gender. Membership will mean European standards for dignified living, competitive working and business conditions, opportunities for quality education and scientific research for our citizens.
We have a common state and we are all responsible for preserving and developing it, for us and for the future generations. We are all responsible for building such a civil state, a society in which all of us, now and in the future, will feel equal, respected, and equal before the law and justice. A state in which we will simply be ourselves, ourselves in our own home, because everyone deserves to live, grow, be educated and create in a state where respect for human rights and freedoms is unprecedented, as this is a natural and universal right, regardless of ethnic, religious, social, party or any other affiliation.
All together, European citizens in the European Republic of North Macedonia!
Thank you for your attention and once again, Happy Independence Day!