President Stevo Pendarovski addressed today the opening of the online Conference dedicated to higher education in the Western Balkans region, on the topic “Common Values, Capabilities and Sustainable Development”. The Conference is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD.
Good Morning, –
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for an invitation to address this important gathering. It is my pleasure to greet you at the opening of this Conference dedicated to higher education in the Western Balkans region. I would like to congratulate the organizers of the three universities from the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Albania for this joint venture.
Last year, when you made the decision the topic of this series of conferences to be “Common Values, Capabilities and Sustainable Development”, in fact you had rightly predicted the three crucial elements of the year 2020 and beyond.
First and foremost, the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of our common values. In the democratic world we belong to, it is widely accepted that these values are the rule of law, democratic political values, functional institutions and culture of dialogue. But all of these important values in essence are supporting a much higher goal. The supreme value for every country and every society is human life. Hence, the main measure of a country’s success is the ability of its institutions to provide a safe, predictable, stable, prosperous life to its citizens, while respecting their inherent human dignity.
This is not an easy task, given that the challenges facing our countries today are extremely complex, unpredictable, multi-dimensional and permeate every social strata. The pandemic has seriously disrupted not only our health, but, also the economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental aspects of our lives.
This platform for exchange of experts between the three countries, which is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD, comes at the right moment. During the pandemic time, the importance of higher education and science is even more valuable, not only in dealing with the consequences of the crises, but, in designing our societies on a sustainable basis for the future, as well. In order to focus on a green and inclusive economy, clean technology, renewable energy, it is necessary to develop a strong partnership between the decision makers, the scientific and academic community and the business sector. And the prerequisite for that endeavor requires building mutual trust among the key stake holders.
Just four days ago, we signed the new Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework with the United Nations for the period 2021-2025. This strategic document aims to support the efforts for improved living standard of the Macedonian citizens, inclusive and green development, universal access to health, education and social protection, ambitious climate action, resistance to disasters and much improved rule of law.
At the same time, our national efforts for sustainable development are in line with our key foreign policy goal – membership in the European Union. The Republic of North Macedonia deserves and is ready to start accession negotiations for membership in the Union during the German presidency. Our integration and of the other Western Balkan countries into the Union is beyond doubt, in the interest of wider regional security and prosperity. An eventual blockade or postponement of the start of the negotiations will be a big mistake and a great failure, above all, of the European Union and the German Presidency so much engaged in supporting the European perspective of the Western Balkan region. And last, but, certainly not the least important, that outcome will negatively affect the stability and the future of the region. We are living in a period when we all need to make every effort not only to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, but, also to design our societies in accordance with the principles of sustainability in line with the best European practices.
Sustainable development is not just an additional plan for our countries, our region and Europe. The 2030 Agenda is an obligation for our generation to make full use of human potential in order to leave a better world for future generations. The key role in that process should be played by the universities that should educate our young people and channel their energy and creativity towards the final goal: sustainable development for sustainable societies.
These are only a few of the arguments why I am firmly in support of this project for higher education in the Western Balkans. I wish you a successful conference, fruitful discussions and hoping to see you soon, in person.