Makedonsko pretsedatelstvo

Monday, 20 September 2010


Distinguished Chairman of the Committee - Mr. Greenway,
Distinguished Members of the Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the delegation of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia and on personal behalf, to welcome your participation at the Meeting of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population of the PACE during these two days. This meeting is just one of the activities carried out in the framework of the Macedonian Presidency with the Council of Europe – last week the Conference on the religious dimension of the multicultural dialogue and the role of the media was held here, as well the Ohrid Process Youth Forum, and soon we are organize a ministerial Conference on the promotion of the social values and the cultural heritage in Europe.

We are trying to realize the ambitions programme in all its segments, which confirms our commitment to the realization of the goals of the Council of Europe. We want to realize all the activities planned with the 6-month programme, but because of the global economic crises this is far from easy, and we are forced to restrict our costs.

Due to this, in the beginning I have to apologize to all of you for the change of the place of organization of the meeting of the Committee, which was done for obvious reasons. This makes me even sadder, because my constituency is Ohrid, and I feel I have the personal responsibility to show you the jewel of Macedonian tourism and part of the world natural and cultural heritage which is protected by UNESCO. I hope that as members of PACE or privately you will have an opportunity to visit my hometown some other time.

Allow me to say a few words about our agenda in the next two days.

First of all, regarding smuggling and trafficking of people, I would like to emphasize that all forms of this evil, on national or international level with victims: women, men or children, any type of exploration – sexual, forced labour etc., are a remnant of the barbaric period from the distant past that are absolutely unacceptable today. That's why fight against trafficking of people must be one of the top priorities of the Council of Europe and, together with the EU, we must set up standards with regard to the European legislation, and especially its implementation.

Last year the Republic of Macedonia realized key activities in this filed: adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code stipulating harsher punishment for the perpetrators; strengthening of the technical capacities for fight against organized crime; establishment of a national shelter for the victims of trafficking; activities for increasing the awareness of target groups (children, students, etc.) about the dangers of trafficking; continued participation in the work of the trans-national mechanism of the SEE countries for fight against this evil; prosecution of a number of perpetrators.

Regarding today’s hearing dedicated to the topic of migration and the democratic challenges, I would like to point out that it is a fortunate coincidence that the headquarters of the regional organization dealing with this issue - MARRI - is located in our country. Its experts are here, and together with other relevant specialist they can assist us in our debate. I would like to remind you that the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative was established in order to address migration in the Western Balkans and it has the task to promote close cooperation and to secure coherent and integrated approach to migration and asylum, and integrated border management. This regional issue is an important part of the process of European integration of the region.

Last year the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, based on the achieved results, were granted visa liberalization with the EU. However, additional efforts are indeed in order for the Schengen curtain to be lifted soon for to the other two members of MARRI – Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Next year the Republic of Macedonia will conduct census of the population with the so-called model of open questions, meaning the members of the smallest ethnic communities can freely express their ethnic and religious belonging and their mother tongue, and not be listed as “others”. We would be very happy if this was the case with the Macedonian minority in all our neighbouring countries. We think that this is not some kind of privilege, but a general European standard that should be applied in all the Council of Europe member countries.

I wish you successful work and pleasant stay in Skopje.


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