Distinguished Members of Parliament,
I am honored to have been invited to address the Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. I would also like to express my great appreciation to our excellent hosts in the Czech Republic.
The pleasure from being here is all the greater because I know that I am speaking before this Assembly, which is a proven supporter of the Alliance enlargement policy and is continuously sending strong messages of support for the NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia, as it has done prior to the last NATO Summit in Chicago.
Let me for a moment look back on the Spring Session of this Assembly held in Madeira in 2007, when I addressed it for the first time.
At that point, less than a year before the NATO Summit in Bucharest, I was proud to inform you of the completed 8th cycle of the NATO Membership Action Plan of the Republic of Macedonia and the already started planning for the 9th cycle .
Then, with considerable enthusiasm and assurance, I said that it had been our last National Program before the Republic of Macedonia would join the Alliance. My enthusiasm at that time did not originate only from the great desire and overwhelming support of the Macedonian people for joining NATO, but, even more, it was based on the conviction that the country would meet the necessary criteria until the Bucharest Summit and it would deservedly become an Alliance member. Yes- the recognition for the fulfilled criteria did arrive, but regarding the membership invitation, a condition was imposed.
We also believed that the Chicago Summit was an excellent opportunity for that, although, as you know, a Summit is not required in order for the Republic of Macedonia to become a member.
Moreover, the judgment of the International Court of Justice provided strong arguments in our favor. In that context, we appealed to the NATO member countries to re-examine their positions and do their utmost to achieve consensus for effectuation of the deserved membership invitation for my country as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that a significant number of our friends from NATO have an understanding for our arguments, the Republic of Macedonia is still knocking on the “open” door of the Alliance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The aim of the NATO enlargement policy was, among other things, to create credible and compatible NATO partners and future responsible members. The rightfulness of this policy has been reflected in the Republic of Macedonia for a long period of time.
It has been corroborated not only by the Alliance’s constant acknowledgement of the attained standards, but also by our strong commitment to steadily promoting the reforms. The reforms that have been continuously implemented not only because of the NATO and EU membership, but also because they are in the interest of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. Those citizens, an exceptionally large part of which - 80 to 90%, have been wishing for and supporting the NATO membership of the country for already 20 years.
It is also confirmed by the recognizable dedication of the Republic of Macedonia to contribute to the world peace and security that has always been highly valued by the Allies. We can often hear from our partners that the Republic of Macedonia is a de facto NATO member, especially with its contribution to the Alliance missions and operations.
Of course, although it is a great recognition for us, it cannot be a consolation, much less a compensation for the position at the table of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels that was deserved long ago.
Speaking about our contribution to the world peace and security, I would like to inform you that we will continue with the participation of our forces in Afghanistan, as long as it is necessary. Likewise, our soldiers are a part of the regional team for training and mentorship of the Afghan security forces, which is a regional contribution of the members of the Adriatic Charter to the Military and Police School in Kabul. We are ready, in accordance with the needs of the Alliance and our possibilities, to participate in the new NATO-led Mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014 for providing advice, training and support to the Afghan authorities.
In the sphere of the national reforms, we are continuing to raise the standards in several areas. We are improving the electoral legislation; the further implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement features high on the government agenda, by which the multi-ethnic character of the Macedonian society and the institutional capacities are strengthened. With the public administration reforms, we endeavor to create a professional and accountable administration, capable of providing high-quality services to the citizens and business community. The greater independence and efficiency of the judiciary, as well as tackling all forms of corruption and organized crime are our high priorities and areas in which necessary packages of measures are undertaken. In circumstances of global economic crisis, our objective is to improve the economy as well, by attracting both foreign and domestic investments, which would contribute to an increase in the economic growth and create conditions conducive to opening new jobs.
In short, we make our best endeavor to improve the conditions in our society in every respect, and thus, to continue to act as a responsible member of the international community as well.
However, respected Parliamentarians, I believe that you will agree, that the preparatory process for the NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia has been taking too long.
There is no one who wishes more than us for the last obstacle that stands on our way for realization of our European and Euro-Atlantic objectives to be removed. Even the highest international court confirmed with its judgment that the Republic of Macedonia approaches and acts in good faith in the discussions for overcoming the difficulty for our Euro-Atlantic integration.
With the same good intentions and towards improving the good neighborly relations, we have initiated concrete activities, proposed holding meetings at various levels, as well as implemented numerous bilateral projects with our neighbor.
We are doing this because we consider that the development of the relations with our neighbors and the improvement of the regional cooperation are for the well-being of the whole Region that we wish to see as soon as possible fully integrated into NATO and the European Union.
Likewise, it is certainly beneficial both for NATO and the European Union, since the two processes are inter-connected and complementary. The progress in one process entails a positive step forward in another, and we see it as a natural development both for the country and for the two organizations.
For instance, the opening of the High Level Accession Dialogue with the European Commission, was certainly, a catalyst for improvement of the reform processes in the country and contributed to a significant progress in a number of key areas. That is what the European Commission concluded in its current Progress Report for the Republic of Macedonia. The European Commission, for the fourth time in a row this year, recommended opening of the EU accession negotiations for Macedonia.
We hope that the next month, the Council of the European Union will follow the recommendation of the Commission and will set a date for opening of the accession negotiations with my country.
Unfortunately, the status of the Republic of Macedonia within NATO, regardless of the above-mentioned progress has remained unchanged for several years. I am convinced that nobody expected such a development at the time when the decision in Bucharest was made. It is obvious that it is more than necessary to urgently overcome this status quo situation.
Certain encouragement for us and a clear confirmation of the importance that the Alliance attaches to the enlargement and open doors policy is the fact that at the NATO Summit in Chicago a message was sent that it had been the last Summit without enlargement.
However, taking into consideration the particularity of our case, and especially the fact that a Summit is not required for effectuation of the membership invitation of my country, I consider that in the immediate term, the Alliance can and should make a bold and visionary decision, as it has done many times before.
A decision with which the Republic of Macedonia will finally receive the long-deserved NATO membership.
I hope that this Assembly, that was hitherto a vocal supporter of our integration in the Alliance, will acknowledge the validity of the presented arguments, and will do its utmost for sooner realization of this, I am convinced, common goal.
Thank you for your attention.