President Stevo Pendarovski addressed today the closing of the 11th edition of the “Macedonia 2025” Summit, which focused this year on accelerated digital transformation, regional cooperation and innovation.
In his address, President Pendarovski stressed that the economic situation no longer changes from year to year, but from day to day, and even from hour to hour and that it is the duty of the state to help the economy overcome this period. He underlined that if we want sustainable growth we will have to rethink the model of economic development and pointed to the MKD2030 Development Framework as a platform for long-term vision for the development and future of North Macedonia, a strategic document that the President announced would be officially promoted next month.
The President outlined the priorities of MKD2030, including accelerating economic growth of at least 5% per year through structural transformation of the economy, higher environmental protection and redefining the Macedonian energy policy, focusing on digital infrastructure and accelerating the digital transformation of the country, as well as serious systemic efforts to create a comprehensive, quality and digitalized education, adapted to modern world trends and labor market.
“I believe that if we meet these priorities, we will not only overcome this turbulent period with fewer losses, but we will also be able to create conditions for sustainable growth and development”, President Pendarovski said.
The integral text of president pendarovski’s speech is below.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honored to address this year’s Summit of “Macedonia 2025”. As before, the goal of the Summit is to offer us a fresh vision for the progress and prosperity of our common homeland. This year such a vision is needed more than ever.
Not long ago I participated in the Munich Security Conference. One of the conclusions of the Conference was that many countries are facing collective helplessness due to the numerous and intertwined crises that are reinforcing each other. The term “collective helplessness” is borrowed from psychology and is used to describe a state in which subjects have ceased to believe that they can change anything and have simply come to terms with fate. Such attitude leads to apathy, indifference and fatalism. This worrying phenomenon is due to the growing perception that states and societies cannot cope with the numerous challenges, from pandemics and economic crises, through climate change and migration, to geopolitical and geo-economic tensions and conflicts.
According to the latest World Economic Forum survey on global risks, only 16% of respondents are optimistic about the future of the world, and barely 11% believe that the world will recover quickly from these crises. It is expected by most the next three years to be tense and uncertain, with few relative winners and many losers. High public debt and geo-economic conflicts are projected to trigger crises that will mark the next ten years.
However, the greatest danger to societies is not necessarily the crises themselves but the attitude towards them. We face the dilemma: will we look for creative solutions, or will we indulge in a whirlpool of crisis along the lines of lower resistance. In these unpredictable times, the success of the Macedonian economy will depend not only on external factors that we cannot influence, but above all on the commitment to internal reforms. Resistance to crises is not only material but also mental. If we want to replace collective helplessness with collective hope, we will have to reach for one key resource, and that is the will.
That is why we are gathered here. The organization “Macedonia 2025” was established on the eve of the global financial crisis in 2008. Since its establishment until today, “Macedonia 2025” has managed to help the Macedonian business sector to overcome several national and global crises, to inspire new generations of business leaders in the country and abroad to develop their businesses and brands, to attract many foreign investors and to maintain the hope that we can change reality, regardless of the circumstances.
It is with such confidence that, at the beginning of my presidential term in 2019, I initiated the MKD2030 Development Framework as a common platform for a long-term vision for the development and future of North Macedonia. The aim was to build a supra-party, national consensus on the priorities necessary for accelerated growth, progress and a better life for citizens. We launched the project in much more favorable conditions than the current ones, before the beginning of the pandemic, at a time when our NATO integration was being completed and when the European perspective was much closer.
The world today looks dramatically different than it did three years ago. The pandemic has caused a global recession, energy crisis and price shocks on global markets. In 2024, the global economy will be at least 2.3% smaller than it would be without the pandemic. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also led to a European energy dilemma, a food crisis and a serious slowdown in post-pandemic recovery. Public debt, inflation and commodity prices are expected to continue to rise. At the same time, we are facing a blockade of European integration and the emigration of young people.
Formulating a strategic framework for development in the face of unpredictable crises, geopolitical and geo-economic shocks is a major challenge. It is like playing a match while the field, the players and the rules of the game are changing. But one wisdom says: “Every evil is for good”. I believe it is good that we are preparing MKD2030 in the midst of crises because in that way we are calibrating the development framework taking into account the darkest scenarios and the most pessimistic forecasts. The great crises have judged many strategies and plans. The more a vision is based on reality, the more successfully it will be able to change reality. I expect MKD2030 to be exactly such a framework.
Although we will officially promote this strategic document next month, on this occasion I would like to share with you, in a nutshell, its four development priorities.
The first priority is enhanced economic development, which is a prerequisite for creating new jobs and improving living standards. We need to accelerate economic growth of at least 5% per year. We will have to increase the productivity and competitiveness of the national economy through a structural transformation of the economy. At the same time, priority should be given to the sectors that produce higher value added and to help Macedonian companies to get involved in value added chains and procurement chains. We will need to encourage innovation and introduce modern technological solutions in the production and service activities. We will need to encourage new investment, reduce the shadow economy and provide a flexible and dynamic labor market.
The second priority is higher environmental protection and redefining Macedonian energy policy in order to better respond to internal demands and external shocks.
Third, digitalization, which essentially determines the future of each country. The biggest risk in the digital age is to stay out of the mainstream. To ensure rapid and long-term development and a prosperous future, we must focus on digital infrastructure and accelerate the digital transformation of the state and society. To build a digital economy and invest in the development of the Macedonian IT sector, research and innovation. We need to close the gap between digital skills and digital education so that more people and companies can thrive and develop digital brands.
The fourth priority is education and inclusive development as essence of all segments of development. Due to the shortcomings in the current education system, young people find it more difficult to enter the labor market and therefore leave the country. Hence, serious systemic interventions are necessary to create a comprehensive, quality and digitalized education, adapted to modern world trends and labor market. We must invest in every stage of education, to strengthen the relationship between educational institutions and companies, to raise the functional literacy and readiness of young people for career development. This will increase employment, reduce poverty and social exclusion and build an inclusive society for young people, but also for all vulnerable categories of citizens.
I am aware that economic conditions no longer change from year to year, but from day to day, and even from hour to hour. Many of our businessmen and managers have to make difficult decisions every day. How to provide energy, where to procure raw materials, how to maintain production, how to maintain market competitiveness, while not reducing the number of employees. These are difficult decisions. It is the duty of the state to help the economy to overcome this period. From this time perspective, 2030 may seem far away.
But if we want sustainable growth, we will have to rethink the model of economic development. Our goal, our ambition is not only to survive, but also to develop and prosper. MKD2030 will help us achieve exactly that. Some of these policies may be painful in the short term, but they are necessary in the long run. I know that many companies face a dilemma between the urgent and the important. But the strategic development framework MKD2030 is equally urgent and important. The four complex and interdependent priorities are key to our progress by 2030 and beyond. These are our constants in a changing and unpredictable environment.
I believe that if we meet these priorities, we will not only overcome this turbulent period with fewer losses, but we will also be able to create conditions for sustainable growth and development. I believe that “Macedonia 2025”, together with state institutions, civil society, academia and the business community, are a vital part of the struggle to create collective hope for the prosperous future of North Macedonia. Through MKD 2030 we refuse to put to rights with fate, and choose to change reality, to create a better future for our youth, for Macedonian citizens, here in our common homeland.