September 8 is a historic moment for Macedonia, the triumph of the struggle and sacrifices of all previous generations. Triumph of our generation too. Since September 8, 1991 we are masters on our own land. Since then the main challenge is how to better manage the life and functioning of our country in the framework of democratic principles, and to sooner meet the EU and NATO standards.
This was stated by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in his address Tuesday at the official ceremony marking the 8th of September when we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the establishment of an independent, sovereign and free Republic of Macedonia.
He said that this achievement whose culmination was the referendum on September 8, 1991, was to finish the establishment of state after many years of struggle by many generations of our ancestors, thousands of victims, destroyed lives, imprisonment and mistreatment.
The establishment of state did not go easy or even fast. It moved step by step, fighting, and taking certain historical moments to realize the next step. What was the connective tissue, what as a thread running through all the centuries, when people lived in this region were under the communist regime, under fascist occupation, Serb or Bulgarian authorities under the Ottoman Empire, under Byzantine and Roman Empire or before, was the word Macedonia, Gruevski said.
He referred to the empire, which in ancient times bears the name Macedonia, which is still synonym with which people who live in this area are sometimes identified or linked, and that word, concept, historical and geographical qualifier, in 19th century in the process of formation of nations as a concept in Europe, started to become connective tissue, forming the core of the consciousness of the nation, and then the state. Along historical and geographic word Macedonia other connective tissues are the language, culture and customs, he said.
That aspiration for freedom and independence gained momentum in the late 19th century, first with a few noticeable uprisings as Kresna and Razlog, and establishment of intellectual circles, and most extensively with the establishment of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, which has repeatedly changed the name, but in the collective memory of the people still remembered as VMRO, which is fighting for freedom, autonomy and independence in a difficult time, behind which there are nearly 500 years of Ottoman rule.
The struggle for freedom is the fruit of joint efforts of all of them, the Macedonians, and all that together with the Macedonians in various stages more or less fought for the freedom and independence of Macedonia, Albanians, Turks, Roma Serbs, Vlachs, Bosniaks, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists ... all. That struggle continues later in the Second World War where all included in that struggle that was led by the Communist Party.
One of the key signals to all fighters is the fact that the Communist Party on an international level, decided to recognize small peoples and nations and to recognize statehood, including Macedonia and the Macedonian people, Gruevski said.
45 years of tough and brutal regime follows, but also the continued resistance of the people for full independence that through various labels, closures and liquidations are suppressed or presented in a different way at the time. And all that lasts until the next historical opportunity that comes with the fall of communism in all countries in Europe and in Yugoslavia, and the dissolution of the Yugoslav Federation. It is again a historic moment, a historic opportunity that is properly used, the eventual creation of a free, sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia, wrapped up through the activities of political parties and parliament, and sealed by a referendum on this date of September 8, in 1991, Gruevski said.
He pointed out that the generation that won independence deserves appreciation from all subsequent generations. That generation in a whirlwind of new times and under the roar of the troubles that occurred in the neighborhood managed to reach the right decisions, despite all partial weaknesses and ambiguities of those decisions, however, we are paying our respects to that generation, and that generation will be remembered in the Macedonian historiography.
We have had ups and downs, crises, successes and failures, realized and unrealized dreams, but the state was built and moved forward. Not always the same and with the desired dynamics, but 24 years of continuous upgrade of what is accomplished on September 8, 1991 is behind us. Today's great challenge of Macedonia after winning the independence is the membership in EU and NATO, and surpassing the problem that Greece imposed related to our name and identity, Gruevski said.
He said other members of NATO and the EU, especially the most powerful, should end this injustice that is happening to us, if for no other reason than for their principles of respect for international law.
We were well prepared for talks and compromise on this issue, but this compromise cannot undermine the foundations on which this country was created and built. I hope that our southern neighbor will soon come out of internal problems, and will open frank discussion on finally closing this issue. In the meantime NATO and EU remain at the top of our priorities, and along the way we will continue with the reforms that are consistent with the principles and values in these two organizations, PM Gruevski said addressing the ceremony in the Macedonian National Theater on Independence Day.