The President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, attended and addressed the opening ceremony of the jubilee 60th edition of the “Ohrid Summer Festival” at the Ancient Theater in Ohrid. The renowned international festival is traditionally held under the auspices of the President.
The integral text of the address of President Pendarovski is below.
Dear Friends, Good Evening,
The Macedonian poet and linguist, Koneski, says in one of his writings: “My homeland is where my love is…” The Ohrid Summer Festival shows that our and everyone else’s homeland can be the whole world, if we believe in art and culture.
This year our Festival celebrates six decades. Years in which top Macedonian, European and world artists honored us with their excellence, here in Ohrid. From here they promoted the Macedonian culture and, in general, the values of our people and state. This achievement is the merit of generations of cultural workers and supporters who, with their hard work and dedication, have incorporated themselves in the mission of this Festival.
This year, the great jubilee is overshadowed by the global challenge we face. Due to the pandemic, numerous invisible walls of social distance and isolation have emerged between us. In the past months, many asked with concern what art and culture will look like in a world where the Covid-19 virus is predominant?
History testifies that in times of crisis culture does not die; on the contrary, it gives birth to different formats for further survival. Some of the greatest works of art were created at a time of great personal and shared trauma that unleashed creativity. Instead of disappearing, many artistic and cultural initiatives and forms have experienced a digital revival. Locked up in their homes, many of us admired the artists who performed in the empty squares and in the empty halls in order to encourage us to endure.
But, in times of health and economic challenges, artists are also a critical voice that encourages us to think about what values we need to build a better and more just world together. All this is due to the fact that in times of joy and in times of suffering, man has seen, reflected, but also changed social and political narratives through culture and art.
To organize the “Ohrid Summer Festival” in conditions of Covid-19 is not easy at all, but it is absolutely necessary. For 60 years this event has been a model for high ranking aesthetic achievements at the international level. At the same time, this is a Festival of creative individuals who stand up against destructive tendencies. Of course, from such ventures of artistic associations and politics one can learn how to create free, open, emancipating, dynamic nuclei that confirm the beauty of diversity.
It is necessary to maintain the level and quality that the “Ohrid Summer Festival” brings with it. As much as we need culture in times of peace, we need it even more in times of crisis. It is imperative that we invest in culture and art so that in the coming decades, from here, from Ohrid, the artists will continue to participate in building a world that will be just and noble.
With that in mind, let me declare the “Ohrid Summer Festival” open.