Nikola Gruevski address the 66th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Distinguished President of the 66th United Nations General Assembly,

Distinguished Secretary-General of the United Nations, 

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is my special honor and privilege to address this particularly important forum and to share the positions of the Republic of Macedonia regarding current issues on the United Nations agenda.

First of all, please allow me to extend congratulations to His Excellency Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for his election for President of the 66th General Assembly and to extend congratulations to the previous President, Mr. Joseph Deiss, for his successful chairmanship of the 65th General Assembly.    

Concurrently, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon for his re-election, being assured that he will continue to work to the realization of the noble objectives of the United Nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Republic of Macedonia recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its independence. We were faced with many challenges and temptations; from the peaceful declaration of independence, the introduction of a new political system, by duly respecting democratic values and human rights and freedoms; transformation of the economic system, followed by solving many social problems, establishing ourselves as a responsible and active member of the international community and being additionally burdened with certain requirements and conditions. During the entire period, the Republic of Macedonia had the United Nations as its partner.

Based on the lessons learnt in the past 20 years, my country especially values the role of mediation in peacefully settling conflicts. The Republic of Macedonia welcomes the timely and wise decision of the General Assembly to put the role of mediation in solving disputes in the focus of this year’s debate. The majority of conflicts do not happen overnight, they are predictable, and so there are realistic opportunities for an effective diplomatic engagement towards their prevention. In such a case the price to be paid is the lowest in any aspect. When confirming the sovereignty of states, we must take into consideration that there are moments in which they are in need of mediation services – impartially and with a strong will of the mediators to understand the essence of the issues and help all concerned parties solve the problems in a mutually acceptable and satisfactory manner, before they escalate in an unwanted direction.

Your Excellencies,

The Millennium Development Goals remain parameters for our success. Being aware of the serious consequences of the global economic crisis, the commitment to realization of the Millennium Development Goals must not weaken. The greatest crises occurred as a result of a lack of vision and dedication. Turning a blind eye to problems today or finding excuses for absence of actions for realization of the objectives, will only increase the price to be paid in the future; and it will not be calculated only in dollars or euros, but also in the most valuable and priceless thing: human lives.

A challenge that requires an immediate and long-term solution is the issue of climate change. It is alarming that precisely as a result of climate change, caused by human activity, entire nations and states are facing an everyday fear. The Republic of Macedonia, although it has been experiencing the adverse effects of climate change in a less dramatic way, expressed its solidarity with the countries that are most exposed to this phenomenon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the past period, we were witnesses of several conflicts and the disturbance of peace and security in certain regions in the world. Democratic awakening, especially the so-called Arab spring, showed us once more that democracy cannot be imposed, it should be desired and that democracy can be derived only from the people, by rejecting dictatorships and regimes that are against the interest of the people, and by respecting basic human rights and universal freedoms and rule of law. The old and frozen conflicts are still a global challenge. The abuse of programs for the peaceful use of nuclear energy has not been resolved yet. Terrorism and extreme hunger caused by conflicts are only some of the numerous challenges for which it is imperative to find immediate solutions aimed at security both at a global and regional level.

The human being must be the focus of our attention, above all, in national policies, and of course also in multilateral activities. There is no greater value than human life, human dignity, the right to individual development, prosperity and happiness. The human kind requires action with which our declarations and good intentions will be transformed into deeds. Asking for that moral imperative from the United Nations, we are proceeding from ourselves. The Republic of Macedonia will continue to be an active factor in the realization of the common objectives. 

Respected,

There are many words that I could use to describe my country, and each and every one of them would fit perfectly, in their own manner. But, to begin, I choose one of them, and I am deeply convinced that this word describes the being of my country and my people, and explains accurately all our endeavors and strength that we gathered in order to overcome the challenges of our recent history. This word clearly depicts our patience that we had for every imposed blockade which we survived and we are surviving, from an economic to an institutional standpoint, simply because of our own identity and self-recognition. Blockades, not because of what we have done, but just because what we are and because we exist. This word is: RESPONSIBILITY!

Macedonia is acting responsibly. Our country was won through a not necessarily merciful history. It rests on a great sacrifice, many lives and broken dreams. Yet, our past is not the only reason why we act responsibly. We Macedonians believe that we have a European future and that we can leave much behind for generations to come. This is precisely why today in Macedonia we are trying to create a wide front of support and unification of all strengths and potentials around the brave idea of us becoming a regional leader. A leader in economic reforms, education, investments, technologies and innovations, environment protection, protection of human rights and freedoms, in all segments of modern living. Knowing the high consciousness and responsibility of my people and taking as an example how my country coped with the global crisis, when economic solidarity was not shaken and everything went by without any major problems, I am convinced that this unity will be successful. However, when speaking about Macedonia, one should mention another great feature that has found its way through thousands of years. As our heritage of the old times, this feature guards the cosmopolitism, an idea that enables a functional multiculturalism. Side by side, throughout the centuries, different cultures, religions and nations live in my country. We try to incorporate, without any assimilation or disintegration into the dominant culture. We are proud of our differences and we consider them our treasure.

Ladies and gentlemen, our system is not perfect and we have many issues to resolve. Macedonia is on the verge of a great transformation, which will not happen overnight. We, as any other nation in the world, have the right to an identity and to unite around our own national myth. In our myth, there is a place for Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Vlachs, Bosniaks and others… there is a place for all who accept the virtues that praise peacefulness, justice, coexistence and cultural competitiveness. Chauvinism has never been dominant and recognizable for our people. The constitutional amendments from 1993 and the change of our flag showed more than just our goodwill. But, our responsibility and maturity should not be considered as our weakness, nor should it be subjected to a continuous abuse from anyone, because on the other hand, we must not forget our dignity and pride.

 We know who we are and how we will live. We are Macedonians, we speak Macedonian, and our country’s name is the Republic of Macedonia.

Being the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia I would be remiss if I neglect the issue of our name and identity and our southern neighbor’s objection to both our name and identity.  And I mention this not only because of my position and obligation to the people of the Republic of Macedonia, but also because it relates, in many ways, directly to the role that mediation plays.

We do not like being in the position of having our name and identity objected to by one country and we certainly did not ask for it.  But reality is often cold, hard and brutal.  The fact is our southern neighbor objects to both our name and identity.  And their objection has become our problem and a dispute has arisen which is unique to the world, a dispute imposed for the needs of one country, our neighbor, to monopolize two names, or on the other hand their strategic determination for us not to exist as we feel ourselves to be. Imagine the virtual state that my citizens find themselves in, blackmailed, with a blocked development and perspective, because of the blockages from our southern neighbor to enter the Euro-Atlantic institutions, just because for what we are, i.e. what we feel like.

Please, just for a moment imagine that you are in our shoes, try to consider how would you feel if someone demanded you not to be  German, British, American, Russian, Chinese, Nigerian, Argentinean and so on. This is the only thing I ask you for: this is the only thing I plead you for. I ask for your support to end this, for your support to allow us to be what we are, without hurting anybody, without inflicting damage on anyone, with understanding, tolerance and respect for all our neighbors, friends, for all of you, with respect for our neighbor with whom we have this dispute and understanding of its fears, we do not bear any pretensions, nor do we have any intensions to monopolize the term Macedonia.

Macedonians are a peaceful people and we are working, with mediation, to solve this dispute which our neighbor has, peacefully.

In a speech to the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia on August 31, 2001, our late President Boris Trajkovski said “…we demand the international community to recognize us by our name -- the Republic of Macedonia -- and not by a fictional derivative. It is high time that the world recognizes us by what we call ourselves -- just like any other country and its citizens. Otherwise, how do you expect us to believe in your values, principles and intentions, if you deny our basic right, the right to identity?”

Fortunately 131 countries around the world have made a choice to recognize us by what we call ourselves – the Republic of Macedonia – and for that, we thank you:  we thank you for the principality and consistency in the values of protection of the rights and principles established by the UN themselves. Unfortunately, the rules of the world are arranged in a such a manner that we cannot be called by what we call ourselves in this very body – the United Nations – nor can we join organizations we have worked hard to become members of and, in the case of NATO and EU, have earned a right to be a part of these organizations.  And this, frankly, is wrong.  There is no other word for it.  What you chose to do about it – your behavior – is entirely up to you.

Excellencies, 

All of us are leaders of our people and all of us represent them to the best of our abilities.  We must re-commit ourselves as leaders to our own people first, and to the people of this world second.  If we do that, we can survive, we can succeed and we can build a better world for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.

 

Thank you!

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