Distinguished representatives of the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the beginning of this New Year 2017, it is my honor to welcome you here, by the Ohrid Lake. Only a few miles away from here is the city of poetry – Struga, the center of Macedonian enlightenment in the 19th century. Poets say that beauty will save the world. Let us hope it will be that way, because this world does need salvation.
This will be my 8th address to the diplomatic corps in the Republic of Macedonia.
This year, I would not like to repeat what has already been said.
I will not speak about the political crisis in the Republic of Macedonia. The only thing I will share is my expectation that the political parties, in this post-election period of negotiations, will take into consideration the state interests of the Republic of Macedonia and the national interests of the Macedonian people.
I will not remind you either, that the status quo in terms of European and Euro-Atlantic integration is part of the problem, and not the solution to the political crisis in the Republic of Macedonia.
Instead, I'd rather talk about the challenges standing not only before the Republic of Macedonia, but also the Balkans, Europe and the world.
We left the year 2016 behind us, recognized as an annu horribili – a horrible year during which we felt most strongly the consequences of double standards, lack of respect for international law, failed states and ravaged societies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Under the pressure of economic scarcity, environmental degradation and absence of basic safety and security, millions of people began their pursuit for a life of human dignity.
Unfortunately, it was proven that mass migration is a subject to double abuse. On one hand, the threat of illegal migration is an instrument for non-military pressure in conflict and crisis management. Those who wish to exercise pressure on a certain state, simply "export" and direct migrants on their route to the final destination. On the other hand, radicals, extremists and foreign terrorist fighters take advantage of the misfortune of migrants and refugees to infiltrate unnoticed in other countries. All of this, unfortunately, contributed to the rise of polarization and xenophobia in European societies.
In this context, in spite of the internal political crisis, Macedonia showed that it has stable institutions, as seen in the management of the migration crisis and reduction of security risks. I wish to thank all European countries which helped us in this area.
However, in such circumstances, all of us are faced with two key challenges. The first one would be to ensure control of corridors used by migrants. The second - to secure the free movement of migrants who are already inside the Schengen territory.
Many European states will be faced with a tough choice – either to activate the crisis management system in order to handle illegal migration, or to declare a state of emergency due to the security crisis and threats from foreign terrorist fighters.
The solution of both these issues lies in a closer cooperation and exchange of information. Unfortunately, instead of trust and cooperation, what we are witnessing is more mistrust and dissociation.
This year 2017 will mark six decades since the Treaties of Rome. During its first 50 years, the European Union was a very promising project. However, in its sixth decade, the Union is at a historic crossroad. The unresolved credit, the current migration, and the growing security crisis have paralyzed European institutions. Internationalism is withdrawing before growing nationalism. At the same time, instead of a deeper integration, we have an increasingly visible regionalization.
The absence of the European Union and NATO resounds in the Balkans and might endanger the stability of our region. In the last period, we hear rhetoric and see actions that are in many aspects, very reminiscent of the time we thought was long forgotten – the period of disintegration of a former common country.
The great Einstein said: "Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore." For a while I did not comment on the statements and actions of some politicians from the region but because I believed that they can only be isolated if ignored. Although they do not deserve a comment, I will say, though, that opening old wounds and interfering in the internal affairs of countries could jeopardize good neighborly relations. Good neighborly relations, as we know, are not a one way, but a two way street.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have underlined on many occasions the benefits of the Macedonian inclusive democratic model. The Republic of Macedonia is not at all ashamed or trying to suppress its multiethnic, multireligious and multilingual tradition. On the contrary. Not only are we not afraid of it, but we even institutionalized it. Therefore, I would recommend to some of the neighboring leaders to also face the truth about the ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity in their own societies. I would recommend them to pay more attention to the ethnic, religious and linguistic communities living in their countries, in accordance with the highest international standards. We are ready to help them in that area with our positive experiences and lessons learned.
The Republic of Macedonia is not the only country in the region with internal challenges. Unfortunately, all of our neighbors are facing internal challenges. Instead of wasting their energy dealing with the weaknesses of other countries, it would be better if some neighboring leaders first dealt with the weaknesses of their own countries. They were elected by the citizens to deal with their problems, and not the problems and challenges of other countries.
As a region, we simply do not have the time to deal with the retrograde rhetoric from the 19th century, showing who is more powerful and making unconstructive steps that do not reflect the third millennium. We have serious challenges ahead of us. We must dedicated our entire attention and invest all our energy in successfully tackling those challenges. And we cannot do that individually.
In conditions when the Union is facing numerous challenges, and other international organizations is blocked, we need a strategic regional introspection. What does this mean? It is necessary to cooperate in the area of regional security in order to resist global security threats and risks. It is necessary to connect the regional market in order to be competitive at the global market. This because, only through solidarity will we be able to build a region of security, stability and wellbeing.
With this message, at the end, I extend my wishes for well-being and progress of your countries and peoples, and to you personally, much happiness, good health and success.