Annual Address by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Dr. Gjorge Ivanov, in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia
Friday, 28 December 2018 12:11   

GO_1Distinguished attendees,

The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia obliges me, as President of the Republic of Macedonia, to address the Assembly on issues under my competence at least once a year. On this occasion and from the Assembly, I also wish to address Macedonian citizens on the most important issues that our Republic has been facing.

In this past year, as President of the Republic of Macedonia, I cooperated with the Government on various issues of shared competence. In the area of foreign policy, I accepted all quality government proposals for ambassadors, whom I believed would represent the Republic of Macedonia abroad in a professional manner. We also reached agreement on the new Governor of the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. I appointed a new Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. My cooperation with the Assembly was on the appointment of two new judges of the Constitutional Court. Such cooperation for the good of the country is indispensable in any cohabitation. However, there are reasons of essential importance putting our cohabitation to the test.

Before anyone thinks that this will be my final address, my summary on what has been done in the second term of office, I wish to state the following. It is still early for a summary. When, on May 12, 2014, I took this office for the second time, it was here, in this very hall, that I gave a solemn pledge that as President of the Republic of Macedonia and Supreme Commander of the armed forces I would defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Macedonia against internal and external challenges, threats and risks. In that statement, I said I would defend the Constitution and constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia. Today, from this same place, I repeat that I will observe that pledge until the very last day of my term of office. And I have no intention to do otherwise.

There is a very solid reason behind my decisiveness. It is exactly during this second term of office that the Republic of Macedonia is facing both internal and external threats and risks for its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

It is said that truth pierces through the lies; it uncovers failed promises and sheds a light on guilty conscience. And there is a lot of guilty conscience as regards the Republic of Macedonia.

Distinguished attendees,

Recently, in Paris, I participated in the events commemorating 100 years since the end of the First World War. All participants were invited to donate a book in the so-called Library of Peace. In that French library, I donated the book "The Macedonian Knot" written by the first German Ambassador in the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Hans Lothar Steppan. Why that particular book? It is because the unresolved Macedonian question was a reason for the Balkan wars and influenced the alliances in both the First and the Second World War.

In order to be sustainable, peace must be fair. And the fairness of an order, including international order, is seen from the way it treats the smallest peoples and states. The Macedonian knot started slowly unraveling with the creation of ASNOM Macedonia and the declaration of an independent Republic of Macedonia. What is very important is the fact that the Macedonian knot cannot be simply cut, but must be very carefully untangled. Because, by cutting the knot, one cuts and divides the Macedonian people. As all my predecessors did, as President of the Republic of Macedonia I too worked on untangling that knot. I was aware that there are issues that cannot be negotiated, acquired rights that cannot be discussed, red lines that cannot be crossed. However, in the past two years, there came someone to power, who thought that cutting the knot would be sufficient for resolving the Macedonian question, and this - at any price.

That is the essence of the problem. When you are ready to resolve an issue at any price, then the price you pay is the highest. The price for resolving the Macedonian question in this manner is a legal and historical deletion of Macedonian people, because without the Macedonian people, Macedonian identity and Macedonian language, there will no longer be a Macedonian question. In other words, the question of identity will be resolved through its deletion. With this, the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian people have been pushed into a legal, political and historical abyss. The Pandora's box has been opened and now almost everyone believes they have the right to deny what is our acquired right. And this at several levels and on several occasions.

Let me start from the end, which is the Prespa Agreement.

Since the beginning of our independence, Greece has been objecting our right to self-determination; it took away our right to prosperity and now, 27 years later, it puts into question our right to existence. The tragedy is in that, it is doing this thanks to the Prespa Agreement. Adopted under the excuse that it should end the name dispute with Greece and open the path towards membership in the European Union and NATO, this Agreement actually puts an end to the Republic of Macedonia as we know it. The Agreement violates internal law clauses of fundamental importance. The text of this Prespa Agreement has been drafted without a national consensus, without my knowledge and without my consent as President of the Republic of Macedonia.

And yet, there was one thing that stood in its way. It was the people's fundamental right to self-determination. In a Republic, only the people have the right to manage themselves and decide on their life; to choose their name and the name of the country they established, the language they speak and the culture they build. This is why this Government and this parliamentary majority asked the people to agree on that change - in order to interpret the legal deletion of Macedonian people as its own personal will.

On September 30, a referendum was held, whereby Macedonian people were asked to state their opinion on the Prespa Agreement. On that referendum, people were given a false alternative. They had to choose between prosperity and identity, as if there is such a thing as prosperity without identity.

During the referendum campaign, the Government claimed that the Prespa Agreement recognizes Macedonian people, protects Macedonian language and strengthens Macedonian identity.

Official Athens denied all statements of our Government. Greek Prime Minister Tsipras stated on several occasions that the Agreement does not recognize Macedonian people and Macedonian identity. Recently, Greek President Pavlopoulos confirmed that he would not accept a frivolous interpretation of the agreement.

Of all these issues, I will only refer to Macedonian language. It is claimed that with the Prespa Agreement, Macedonian language will finally be protected. Protected with what? How can this government state that they have fought and won an inalienable right? Macedonian language was fought for and won by those who had the courage to speak it when it was forbidden; to codify it when it was denied; to promote it when it was ignored. They were the one who protected the Macedonian language, and this government merely reduced it to a bargaining chip. The current government started bargaining with the ones who pretend to hold the key to our past and dispute our historical right to existence and self-determination. Instead of protected, Macedonian language has been exposed to the attacks of those who contest it, and by trying to delete or rename it, they exercise oppression over Macedonian identity.

The risk was enormous. The referendum of September 30 could have brought the Republic of Macedonia into a state of submission and dependence to another state.

In such unhealthy circumstances, the immunity of the Macedonian society woke up against the imposed solution. The referendum was unsuccessful. With the insufficient turnout at the referendum, the people spoke against premature, imposed and detrimental solutions made without a previous national consensus. On September 30, by not voting, the quiet majority made a loud vocal decision. A decision that no one has a mandate by the people to change the Constitution in order to change the constitutional name and that no one has the right to trade our identity.

The biggest success of this Government is that it convinced the international community that the referendum would be a success and that the people would support the Prespa Agreement. But at the end of the day, the representatives of the international community also faced the fact that the people rejected this agreement. Immediately after that, the Government started looking for excuses and someone to blame for that failure.

My message is not to look for excuses. The reason for the failure of the referendum is very simple. The people recognized the blackmail and rejected it.

The fate of the people depends on the fate of the country. But the fate of the country also depends on the political maturity of its people. By boycotting the referendum, the people defended their right to existence and preserved their acquired right to self-determination. And I am convinced that one day, a generation of politicians will come who will hold on to what someone is ready to easily give up on now.

In my address at the United Nations, I already spoke on this issue. Opportunities always exist, both in terms of our relations with Greece and the relations at home.

First, resetting our relations with the Republic of Greece and going back to the authentic and non-imposed confidence building measures that had started giving results. However, in order to achieve this, both Greek and Macedonian society should learn how to live together in spite of their deepest differences and perceptions.

Second, resetting of the national consensus in the Republic of Macedonia. We should discuss and consider options for resolution of the issue in accordance with international law, through the respect of our fundamental right to self-determination. This however, takes political will here, in our country.

Distinguished attendees,

In any functioning democracy, a failed referendum would have meant end of the process. The will of the people expressed on a referendum is a guideline. A sign of democratic maturity is to have decision makers follow that guideline, because citizens are the first and only source of legitimacy.

Unfortunately, this was not our case. In spite of official results, we saw attempts for loose interpretation of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Macedonia, in order to present the failed referendum as a success, both in the eyes of the domestic and the international public.

The majority in the Assembly not only failed to respect it, but they went against the will of the people.

The Republic of Macedonia is our common home. Your intention is to reconstruct it by removing its main pillars and dig around its foundations. The main pillars are the Constitution and the laws. The foundations are the key state-establishing documents of ASNOM. Where is the awareness that with this, we are at risk to live in a home with dug out foundations and fragile pillars? Is that the home we are willing to leave to our children and grandchildren?

The Preamble of the Constitution is the grand narrative on how the people created their country. The Preamble notes the moment of realization of the right to self-determination. Now, something that has been absolved and closed long ago, is being reopened. The Republic of Macedonia is a lasting privilege of the Macedonian people. With the Greek agreement, this lasting privilege is becoming relative. As if there is a certain failure to understand that by making what is lasting relative, we are making ourselves relative as people.

The Prespa agreement is not the only issue.

When back in 2017, I signed the Law on Ratification of the Agreement on friendship, good neighborly relations and cooperation with the Republic of Bulgaria, I pointed out a very important thing. The Agreement speaks about a shared history of the two states and their peoples. That shared history refers to the period since the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia by the Republic of Bulgaria, i.e. since 1992. This is the true historical framework of the agreement which does not focus on the past, but rather on the future. Instead, it became subject to free interpretation due to which the Republic of Macedonia has been pushed into a labyrinth that will be very difficult to exit. Now Sofia is announcing an annex to the agreement.

Orwell wrote that "whoever controls the past controls the future, and whoever controls the present controls the past." Why such aversion towards history? You claim that the Macedonian people are living in the past and you wish to lead them to the future. People do not live in the past, but with their past, and this not in order to hate, but to remember. And now you wish to censor collective memory as well.

Finally, I will add the third great challenge for the Macedonian state besides the Prespa Agreement and the free interpretation of the agreement with Bulgaria – the Tirana Platform. Regardless of the fact that some deny the existence of a Tirana Platform, acts speak louder than words on the aims and intentions.

The Law on the Use of Languages, the way it has been written, but also voted, will provoke a full blockage of the work of institutions. There are almost no articles in that Law which do not violate the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. The Law was adopted in the Assembly outside of any procedure and competent bodies. The legal deadline has been breached, the EU flag has been misused, and the Venice Commission was not consulted. I returned the Law to the Assembly without my signature and with a series of comments. The parliamentary majority ignored my comments, but also the positions of experts and the opposition.

Someone not only lacked the courage to face the truth regarding the unconstitutionality of the Law on the Use of Languages, but they also lacked the courage to sign the submission for initiating a criminal proceeding against me. Do they intent to use anonymous criminal proceeding in order to press the President of the state to break the Constitution?

As President, but above all as a person, I respect the Albanian people just as I respect the Turk, Serb, Vlach, Roma and Bosniac people.

One must never forget that the Republic of Macedonia is a common home of all its citizens. Every community is able to use its language in all spheres and at all levels in accordance with the Constitution. This unity in diversity is possible tanks to the Macedonian language that plays the vital role of an official language of the country, a basic communication code and a cohesive factor that connects all segments of Macedonian multiethnic, multi-religious and multilingual society. Macedonian language is the lingua franca thanks to which members of different communities are able to understand each other. It is part of our social contract. Our strength lies in our diversity, and our diversity is guaranteed through our unity. An expression of that unity is the Macedonian language.

In case this anti-constitutional Law on the use of languages enters into force, then Macedonian language will no longer be the lingua franca uniting Macedonian society.

Distinguished attendees,

As a consequence of such worrisome processes, the Macedonian people are becoming a taboo in the Republic of Macedonia. A few years ago, we had a forbidden book. This year, we witnessed an attempt to ban a movie dealing with a Macedonian issue. Many contents from history schoolbooks might be banned. And now there is an announcement that expressing one's ethnic affiliation at the census will be forbidden. I have been insisting on a census for a long time, but I wonder what the purpose of a census without the possibility of expressing one's ethnic affiliation might be?

The Ohrid Framework Agreement embedded in our Constitution the concept of individual use of collective rights acquired on the basis of a percent of representation of ethnic communities. I ask very publicly: Does such a census devalue the Ohrid Framework Agreement? Is this not undermining our multiethnic democracy? Do we forget that without an ethnic box there will be no Ohrid Framework Agreement?

Unfortunately, this self-censorship does not stop in institutions, but has a spillover effect on the everyday life of citizens.

I hear about parents who already wonder whether they should sing Macedonian songs to their children by fear of being branded as chauvinists. I hear about authors who wonder if it is of any use to publish books on Macedonia. There are companies who do not know what will happen with the Macedonian brands they worked do hard to build.

Instead of virtue and honor, the love towards our homeland has become a sin.

We are living in the century of human rights and freedoms. All identity battles in the world are fought for a formal and legal recognition of identities. Have you ever wondered why almost all minorities, regardless of whether they are ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, are so insistent on their legal recognition? It is because of the legal effect. It is true that no one can take away my personal right to self-identify as Macedonian. But without the right to self-determination, self-identification has no legal effect. In the time when they had no country of their own, many of our ancestors identified themselves as Macedonians, but were formally and legally imposed other, foreign identities. Now you are depriving the Macedonian people of their formal collective right to identity, satisfying yourselves only with the informal individual right to self-identification.

You cannot love Macedonia without loving Macedonians.

You cannot love Macedonia without loving the Macedonian people.

Why should we be the only state in the Balkans without a state-establishing people?

Just as the Prespa agreement denies Macedonian people, and the free interpretation of the agreement with Bulgaria deconstructs Macedonian history, thus the Tirana platform and the anti-constitutional Law on the use of languages attempts at dismantling the Macedonian state.

According to the latest polls, the majority of young people believe that the Republic of Macedonia is moving in the wrong direction. And this should be of no surprise to anyone, since we have become a country of starting things backwards.

Let me remind you that first, citizens were asked for their vote at the elections, and then they were informed that they actually voted for the Tirana platform and the Greek agreement.

The Law on the use of Languages was first adopted, and then it was announced that it would be sent for opinion to the Venice Commission.

Members of the Assembly were first arrested, and then they were stripped of their parliamentary immunity.

The settlement on the name issue was first accepted, and then I was informed as President of the country.

That detrimental Greek settlement was first made, and then the citizens were asked for their opinion at the referendum.

The Government first agreed to an amendment of the Constitution, and only then they forced a two thirds majority, and this by blackmailing members of the Assembly.

The Government first agreed on a Greek settlement that would reflect on the future of the people, and then decided to stage a public debate.

Laws are made to be respected; institutions are established to cooperate, but also to exercise control over each other in order to prevent any mistakes from happening. Only through the rule of law and legal mechanisms can the state realize its essential role, which is to care about the common good of its citizens.

Not a day as passed without someone asking why I accepted, and even more why I did not activate the guarantees that Zaev gave for the mandate. My answer is that with his signature on those written guarantees, I put a veto on the Law on the use of Languages and the Law on ratification of the Prespa agreement. With this, the guarantees have indeed been activated. And they were activated because we are faced with an absurd situation.

The destruction of the state if being justified with the assurance of a future for the state.

From a so-called captured state, I have the feeling that we have also become a blackmailed state.

From the outside, we have been blackmailed by our neighbors, and on the inside, we see many decision makers being blackmailed.

Blackmail became the basic means for realization of goals.

Fellow citizens,

"There will come months and years when politicians, regardless of who will be in power, and who will be in opposition, will deal with serious and strategically important decisions for the country, the nation and our identity, and I do not want to allow neither those in power nor those in opposition, to make decisions and at the same time, be burdened or under personal pressure from the possibility of being unjustly blackmailed, faced with a personal threat on their freedom, honor and reputation, future, or any other blackmail by an external or internal factor. This is perhaps why someone provoked this situation in the first place - In order to be able to influence them or perhaps even control their decisions, above all driven by personal interest."

This is not a description of the current situation. These are the words I said on April 12, 2016, when I made the decision for pardon. I will leave the Macedonian public to decide whether I was right.

On April 27, political violence led to physical violence. I most strongly condemn violence. But, since I have mentioned the blackmail of members of parliament and the generous amnesty that has been offered, I wish to ask one question.

What is the difference between my pardons and your amnesty? Their goals.

My goal was reconciliation through pardon, and your goal is providing support for constitutional changes through blackmail.

While I made the decision for pardon in order to prevent chaos in the country, you made the decision for amnesty in order to legalize the blackmails that bring about chaos and destroy the rule of law.

My pardons did not exclude a procedure for confiscation of illegally acquired property and implied a filtering of the Macedonian political scene and promotion of new people in politics. Your amnesty is just another precedent for blackmail.

I signed this law not for the sake of the majority with which you passed it, nor for the sake of the majority of people who will most likely be covered by this amnesty. If you passed the Law on Amnesty for the sake of the MPs and in order to pass the constitutional amendments, I signed it in order to unveil your true goals and intentions – that this is not an amnesty for reconciliation, but an amnesty for blackmail. Macedonian people cannot reconcile through such reconciliation. Also, I signed the law for the sake of those patriots whose non-violent love for their homeland was obviously abused for other purposes. Let this Law on Amnesty be a testimony for double standards, because double standards are violence against justice. And without justice there is no true reconciliation, without justice there is no peace.

However, in a divided society such as ours, one cannot expect the words to have the same value. As long as forgiveness and reconciliation are nothing but a means to reach another aim, you will only devalue both forgiveness and reconciliation. National reconciliation will happen only when all of us, regardless of our ethnic, religious, political or any other affiliation, will ask for forgiveness by those we have wronged and will forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiveness should go hand in hand with responsibility.

Distinguished attendees,

No one can blackmail me. They could not blame me of immoral or criminal behavior, and so they tried to tarnish my reputation through constructions, lies, offensive and derogative language, and even falsified notes.

I have endured threats as well. There are public personalities who have openly called for a lynch and murder of the President and his family. They offended us and tried to humiliate us. This is the nature of some of my critics – people who cannot say anything positive about themselves, and tend to speak the worst about others.

But in spite of it all, public opinion polls in the past 10 years have undeniably shown that the President of the Republic of Macedonia is a political institution enjoying the highest trust among citizens. One more thing. If we are to believe the latest polls on what the future President of the Republic should be like, most of the citizens said that a President should first be honest. This is my personal contribution to restoring the trust in the institution of President. Whoever takes this position after me, must above all be honest.

In this past period, we witnessed false statements on invented events and inexistent communication in order to prove my alleged involvement in the events of April 27. With the help of a generous amnesty, it seems that someone is trying to hide the truth on those who really ordered the violence on April 27 and come up with a tailor made story of benefit to them.

We all deserve the truth. And the only truth about what I have been accused of is the following: A scenario for a state of war or a state of emergency has never existed, unless the Republic of Macedonia had a parallel Supreme commander of the armed forces and a parallel General Staff of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia and unless someone misused my name for their own purposes.

I wish to address the entire Macedonian public from this place. There have been all sorts of information received that, on the basis of a verbal instruction, and I repeat, a verbal instruction, there is active monitoring, recording and wiretapping of the President of the country, the members of his family and the members of his Office. This is just an indicator that systems, titles, governments, ministers and directors have changed, but UDBA remained UDBA along with its methods.

And since I am mentioning the Security and Counter-Intelligence Administration (UBK), let me remind you that last year I also said that UBK is the generator of political, institutional and security crises. Instead of enforcing laws, UBK works outside of its legal mandate.

This is the consequence of a major delusion. Every party coming to power believes it can control the UBK, only to understand in the end that UBK is the one who controls. As several other times in the past, the UBK is again used as a tool for constructing false cases for the purpose of revanchism, persecution and blackmail. It is machinery for de-legitimization of state institutions, something that we all felt recently. UBK is one of the main instruments for blackmail.

Reforms are offered, it is true. But the reforms offered are more of a form and façade and less of content. The Priebe recommendations have not been fulfilled in substance. The reforms make an attempt at shifting the concentration of power from the MOI to the Government, legalizing the illegal, making the unlawful lawful and offering the perpetual crisis generators as saviors from crises - of course, after they reform themselves according to criteria only they know about. These unsubstantial reforms leave a large space for abuse and violation of basic human rights and freedoms. I wish to remind you that you might be the next victims of such abuse. It is forgotten that apart from power, responsibility must be transferred as well. Therefore I ask who are the protectors protecting and who will protect us from the protectors?

The dilemma remains on how to protect democracy in the Republic against fake news, constructions and fabricated cases that are being institutionalized through the UBK. Recently, we all witnessed the existence of fabricated classified reports used in the making of court decisions. I am afraid to even think how many such fabricated UBK documents have been a basis for constructed cases.

Fellow citizens,

In the past 10 years as President of the state and in the past 27 years as a citizen and university professor, I have never seen any other perspective for the Republic of Macedonia except membership in the European Union and NATO. I believe in the European idea as a peace project that opens space and transforms states and societies. Membership in the European Union and NATO is what unites our entire society, because to Macedonian citizens, NATO means security and the EU means prosperity. Macedonian citizens have chosen me twice to work on the realization of this aim.

I am doing best within the realm of my competence. As Supreme commander of the armed forces, I have been attaching great importance to the Army of the Republic of Macedonia, through which we are practically in NATO. The Army has successfully and with great dedication tackled all challenges and fully justified my trust and the trust of Macedonian citizens.

For me, it is an honor to be the Supreme commander of an army whose spirit is unbreakable. But that spirit must be kept alive. And this is why, we must invest in the Army. Not only in terms of equipment, training and technology, but also in terms of raising the standard of life of the members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. By taking care of our troops, officers and civilians, we take care of the Army, and by taking care of the Army, we take care of ourselves, of the Republic of Macedonia, its safety and its Euro-Atlantic integration.

As President, I have continuously advocated a date and start of negotiations for accession in the European Union with all my interlocutors. There has been virtually no event or meeting where I have not raised this issue.

However, we need to provide solution to the key structural problems in the Republic of Macedonia, rather than postponing and waiting for them to go away on their own once we join the EU and NATO.

Many of our strategic partners were convincing us that the Prespa Agreement would open the doors to EU and NATO membership. But strangely enough, some of them have been quiet about the fact that even if the doors of integration are opened, the iron grid of reforms will still remain. Prespa will not make that grid disappear. At its July Summit, the European Union clearly pointed out the need for reforms. And reforms are a long and painful process.

Here I refer not only to reforms in the area of security, but also the judiciary, education and healthcare. I know that the new Government inherited these problems. But instead of resolving problems, we only see a repetition of mistakes. I wonder if the change that we all expected – intellectuals, professionals, NGOs, people – actually happened.

First, the judiciary. Who among those who promote rule of law actually respects the rule of law? We have become a state of free interpretation of the Constitution and laws. Law has been reduced to a mere political instrument of the governing structure that raises anything they wish to the level of law. Justice still remains a servant of power. Are you not aware that if a citizen loses his faith in justice, it means he has lost his strongest link to the state. In other words, he no longer feels the Republic of Macedonia as his own state. Have you ever wondered why even economically well standing citizens are leaving the country? It is because of the uncertainty of the future of their children. God help the generation whose judges deserve to be judged, they say. I do not wish this to become a state where such a statement would be true.

Second, healthcare. Everyone should be aware that our children and our most loved ones fall ill or die because of bad conditions and lack of staff. Instead of emptying themselves from patients, our hospitals are emptying themselves from medical staff. Doctors and nurses are leaving abroad. These are inherited problems stemming from premature reforms. This is why, when reforms are implemented, instead of narrow political party interests, the only thing to have in mind should be the interest of patients.

Thirdly, education. It is high time to stop educational experimenting on high school and university students. They are a potential for change in our society, and we all saw that. We need equal opportunities for all, equal access to knowledge for all, regardless of where they live and the language they study in.

Just as defending the state needs an army, defending society needs schools. In the past, we saw rushed reforms. This is why now, reforms should be the result of comprehensive public debates including teachers, students and parents. Every true reform begins with the question: What is the purpose of education, for this generation and in this millennium? I will never forget the words of a world known intellectual who once said that he would sue an educational system that, instead of innovators, only produces job seekers.

Here, the issue of economy naturally follows. The new Government brought about hope in people that after a turbulent time with deep crises, there will finally be a period of stability. But instead of major economic projects and reduction of unemployment, we have greater debt. The same mistakes that were criticized in the past period are now being repeated: Corruption, nepotism, employment in state institutions in exchange for votes and support, appointment of irresponsible people on responsible positions. These steps and policies in the wrong direction have disappointed the citizens who expected a better life to come in the Republic of Macedonia. 30% of children in the Republic of Macedonia are living in poverty. All policies and reforms should be directed towards resolving this problem. However, I do not see the focus being on the right place if parliamentary privileges after the end of the mandate are a higher priority than the purchasing power of citizens.

Due to all these crises, the Republic of Macedonia has been shifted from the maps of energy corridors. Who would like to see a key corridor transiting a politically seismic area? Instead of a transit state that will benefit from the transit of resources, we will unfortunately only be an end user that will pay for the transit of resources. Instead of energy interdependent, we will only be energy dependent on our neighbors that will be able to keep us in an energy siege. The price for this will be paid by citizens and companies.

Part of this price is air pollution. It seems that the air in Macedonia is more polluted when a political party is in opposition, and cleaner when it is in power. And vice versa. Polluted air is not a subject matter for gaining political credit. According to the latest polls, pollution is one of the most concerning problems for our citizens. Clean environment is a human right. However, cancelling the results of local referenda on mines implies that human rights are only protected to the measure that corresponds to the narrow interests of political and business heavyweights.

Distinguished attendees,

At the end of my address, it is not very pleasant to again speak of the same problems instead of quality solutions.

I wish to remind you that in 2014, I urged for a dialog among state institutions in order to overcome the political crisis.

I 2015, I called upon political parties to demonstrate unity regarding the state interests.

In the following 2016, I said that the word of the year should be responsibility, and not a general one, but a specific and personal one.

In 2017 I called for reconciliation, forgiveness and an end to revanchism.

If you had heard me then, perhaps today your responsibility would have been lesser. But I did tell you, and this is why the responsibility for this most difficult situation in the Republic of Macedonia since its independence until today is yours.

It is said that those who are slaves to the money know the price, but forget about the value of things. They forget that there are things with value that are priceless. The value of a house consists in the fact that it is a home. The value of the Republic of Macedonia consists in that it is our only shared home. We have no reserve homeland. Therefore to us, the Republic of Macedonia is priceless. Unfortunately, we act as if it has no value at all.

We rely on the international community and hope it will fight our battles. But we forget that the battles that others fight for us never transform us. We are only transformed and made better by the battles we fight ourselves. If you want to make a functioning community our of a group of individuals, give them an aim that they can only achieve together. That aim is the Republic of Macedonia. Only together will we be able to preserve it; only together will we be able to build it.

The greatest work of anyone who wishes to create a state is not mere establishment of a system, but above all the maintenance of that system. A projection of that system in the future, in remote future. Almost every state system, no matter how imperfect, can be sustained for a short while. 27 years of independence of the Republic of Macedonia are just a moment in the long history of humanity and human strive for freedom and order. Our aim should be much more durable. Let us build the Republic of Macedonia as a state that will last and outlive us, our children, and their children.

Only a generation born in freedom can build a free society. But a measurement unit for freedom is truth. Therefore, we must start with the truth.

At the beginning of my address, I said that truth pierces through the lies; it uncovers failed promises and sheds a light on guilty consciousness. I said that there is a lot of guilty conscience regarding the Macedonian case. But truth liberates and allows the guilt to be acknowledged, mistakes to be corrected and wounds to be healed. Therefore, today, from this assembly stand, I loudly told the truth. Not in order to incite hatred, because hatred leads to division, but to face reality together.

Reality is that there is a major difference between freedom with responsibility and freedom without responsibility. The first is a basis of a free society, and the second is just another name for disorder and anarchy. This leads to disorder without freedom. Disorder ruled by hatred. People who hate their political and ideological opponents are not, and can never be free. They are the captives of hatred and the desire for revenge and revanchism.

This is why we need to set ourselves free from hatred and revanchism, and turn to reconciliation - but the authentic one, without hidden agendas - the path to which leads through truth and responsibility.

Through truth and responsibility that lead to reconciliation, we will achieve a just and fair society in which mutual respect will again be our highest value. A society in which government and opposition, instead of sworn enemies, will see themselves as dignified opponents and partners for the common good of the citizens who elected them. A state that will nurture the culture of respect for the Constitution and laws. A society in which young people will have real hope for a fulfilled life and perspective. A state in which people will enjoy legal security and the freedom to plan their life. A state in which children will live in a clean and healthy environment. A state in which entrepreneurs will have open markets and fair competition.

A state in which students will compete with ideas and innovators with their inventions. A state in which pensioners will have decent pensions for a dignified old age. A state in which the salaries of doctors, teachers and educators will correspond to the enormous responsibility they have - to care about the health of the body and mind of each and every one of us.

Let me remind you that these were the aims of the founders of sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia. One of them, President Kiro Gligorov, stated that the issue of name and identity is older than any Constitution, Government, political party or President. It is even older than the state. No individual, of any generation, has been given the right to trade that name and identity. Today, from this stand, I still hope that this parliamentary majority will find the strength to listen to the voice of the people and reject the Prespa agreement and the constitutional amendments.

The people not only chose, but they defended the name of their country, and that name is the Republic of Macedonia. I myself, as its President, remain to defend the will of the people, and have no intention to do otherwise.

Thank you.

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