President Stevo Pendarovski addressed the plenary session of the Summit for Democracy, which is being held virtually under the auspices of the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
The two-day Summit is attended by heads of state and government, government officials, representatives of international and civil society organizations, as well as the private sector.
The Summit aims at encouraging efforts and initiatives to strengthen democracy and fight against authoritarianism and corruption and promote respect for human rights, as well as present the challenges facing democracy globally and in the participating countries, including in the United States.
I would like to express sincere gratitude to US President Biden for hosting this Global Summit for Democracy. It is taking place at a most critical period of time, when we all are witnessing the weakening of the ‘immune system’ of democracies worldwide.
This Summit for Democracy coincides with the International Anti-Corruption Day and the International Human Rights Day. I am deeply convinced that we will send a unified message to all the populist and authoritarian regimes that strive to undermine our values and suppress the freedom of people.
This year North Macedonia celebrates three decades since its Independence Day, from the time we embraced democracy and enshrined in our constitution – liberty, fundamental human rights and justice for all.
Our democracy emerged after half a century of authoritarian rule. Following the fall of communism, we passed simultaneously through a complicated process of state and democracy building. Unlike the Central and Eastern European countries that enjoyed the benefits of European unification, North Macedonia, despite successfully avoiding the civil war, was part of the region in Europe where the most horrific war atrocities were committed after the Second World War.
Despite this enormous regional impact on the Macedonian multicultural society, we have managed to build and maintain a functional model of multiethnic democracy.
The strategic goals to become members of NATO and the European Union were strong incentives to additionally reinforce citizen trust in the democratic model of governance.
However, in the last decade, on all continents, even in established democracies, we have witnessed a rise of populism and authoritarian tendencies challenging and making democracy vulnerable.
There is no alternative and we should not waste a minute: revitalizing democracy is essential to handle this unprecedented challenge of our lifetime. We are fully aware that our security, prosperity, and fundamental rights and freedoms are interconnected. North Macedonia fully supports the main cause of this gathering and is willing to recommit itself to the very fundamentals of the free world:
First, to defend together our way of life against authoritarian states and entities, in a determined and coordinated manner.
Second, to redouble our efforts in fighting corruption and organized crime since they distort the rule of law and public trust in democracy and, as such, pose a national security threat.
Third, to safeguard human rights and freedoms by building resilient, accountable institutions, a strong civil society, and free media.
Democracy has all the credentials to prevail over authoritarianism, and the community of democratic nations is obliged to promote and protect it. The alternative is going back in history marked by destruction and the immense suffering of millions of people.
The world deserves a much better future. It is only in democracy that we can be certain of the outcome.