Address by President Ivanov at the 20th Eurasian Economic Forum in Istanbul
Thursday, 06 April 2017 14:39   

Evroaziski_Forum_01Respected Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

As President of the Republic of Macedonia, I am pleased to take part in the 20th Eurasian Economic Summit. For two decades, this important forum offers an opportunity for frank dialogue and open exchange of ideas on the challenges facing our countries and regions. I am convinced that at least some of those shared ideas have found their place in the decision-making processes and solutions to the challenges. As always, today's topic requires a quality debate.

Not long ago, at the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, 27 European leaders adopted the Rome Declaration. With this Declaration, they undertake that in the next ten years they will work on creating the Union that will be secure and safe, prosperous, competitive, sustainable and socially responsible, willing and capable to play a key role in the world.

In circumstances when the Union is facing numerous crises, many would argue that these are too ambitious or even unachievable goals.

Talking about the crises of the European Union has become a cliché. There are crisis everywhere: from the Euro Zone crisis through the political, migration and security crisis, to Brexit. Middle East, Caucasus and the Balkans are still a nightmare for Brussels politicians. There are many failed states and impoverished societies on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

But, in this narrative of European crises, one important thing is not taken into consideration. Namely, it is forgotten that the crisis is only a metaphor borrowed from medicine and refers to a very short period of time in which the body is struggling with a particular disease or condition. However, the crises facing the Union are all but short. For already two years we are facing migrant crisis. Next year will mark the first decade of the economic crisis. The Union enters from one crisis to another without resolving any of the crises. This alarming situation requires redefinition of the problem.

Claus Offe reminds that Europe is not only in crisis but in a trap of its own bureaucracy. The crisis has paralyzed the very constructive actors who would be able to work to implement the necessary strategies and changes that can overcome the crisis and prevent its recurrence.

At the same time, the Union faces a number of internal tensions: between the center and periphery, between the creditors and debtors, but also between Euro-optimists and Euro-skeptics, and between those who are more and those who are less integrated.

Consequently, despite the Brussels elitism, there is a growing populism. Instead of desouverenization, there is resouverenization. Instead of integration, there is greater fragmentation.

All this would encourage the Rome Declaration to be reduced to sentimental but unrealistic optimism. But, is it so?

History reminds us that at the darkest time of Europe, when fascism and Nazism came to power and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes were spread, a group of people created the ideal of Europe as freedom. It is enough to recall that after the World War II, the dream of a few became a hope for many. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the project of the European Union became part of the political liberalism and liberal order.

Today, when left and right populism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, exclusion, boundaries recur on the European political scene, a new idea must be offered. This is a time for re-creation of Europe - metamorphosis of Europe. But what does that mean?

Ulrich Beck reminds that the essence of the European Union is Europeanization as a process of constant transformation. Europeanization does not mean disappearance of nation states, but metamorphosis of the idea of ​​nation and state. It is the idea that the whole is more than its constituent parts, and that the unit allows its constituent parts, states and societies, to face easier the global challenges.

Distinguished Attendees,

Just before the summit in Rome, the five presidents of the Union came up with five scenarios for the future of Europe.

Under the first scenario, the Union would continue as before. Given that the Union as such was unprepared for all the crises, I think this is an inadequate choice.

Under the second scenario, the Union would be reduced to the common market. On the one hand, this is seemingly an end to the political dimension, because without political cooperation there are no conditions for a common market. Moreover, what about the challenges that require European engagement, as the migrant crisis? That means the European regions will have to make a strategic turn inward, as the Vishegrad Group did as regards the migrant crisis.

Under the third scenario, the Union must accept greater differentiation to avoid potential disintegration. That is the model of Europe in multiple speeds which means that those countries that are prepared will integrate faster and deeper than the others. But, if the locomotive is faster than the cars, then there is a danger that the cars would split at one point.

Under the fourth scenario, the Union would focus on fewer areas but with greater effectiveness. But how would these areas be determined, taking into account the different interests and needs of the member-states and their citizens?

According to the fifth scenario, the Union should do much more, but in unity.

Whichever path is chosen, the European Union member-states will inevitably run into a stumbling block in the Union - and that is the double standards. Today's double standards are future detrimental precedents. I will elaborate the example of the Republic of Macedonia.

Ever since its independence, 26 years ago, the Republic of Macedonia aimed to become part of the European Union and the liberal order. But, exactly in the liberal order that affirms identity rights and freedoms, our inalienable rights and freedoms of self-identification are challenged. Exactly the European Union, whose motto is unity in diversity, denies our diversity. Not by chance one of our philosophers concluded that for Macedonia the political liberalism ended up in the moment our name and identity were challenged. The double standards of the liberal order denied us the right to identity and the right to prosperity. The European and Euro-Atlantic integrations of Macedonia are blocked. Therefore, the case of Macedonia becomes obvious hypocrisy of this international order which is collapsing due to its double standards. Not only Macedonia, but many other countries are not satisfied with the double standards of the Union.

Therefore, whichever of these five scenarios is chosen, the European Union, which was a peace project, should again become recognizable for its greatest power - and that is Europeanization. Through Europeanization, the Union managed to encourage the states and societies of the European continent to be voluntarily transformed. Only through Europeanization, Europe is build. Only through Europeanization, the area of peace, security and prosperity in the immediate and wider European neighborhood - North Africa, Middle East, Caucasus, can be spread. I did not mention the Balkans because it is in the roots of Europe. But Europe has yet to remember and return to the roots.

Europe does not need new principles and values. It needs leaders who can see that Europeanization is salvation for all nations of our continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I will conclude with a phrase from the Rome Declaration. The leaders remind therein that the European Union began as a dream of a few and became the hope of many. Today we can add to that that the Union, which was a dream, has grown into a hope and will be a reality for us only if it remains faithful to its essence – to the Europeanization as a process of metamorphosis of Europe.

Thank you.