President Stevo Pendarovski, on the occasion of marking September 8, Independence Day, addressed today the central celebration “30 Years of Independence”, which was held in front of the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia.
“North Macedonia can prosper only if all its citizens feel it as their homeland, and if it is fully integrated into the western community of nations”, President Pendarovski said at the central celebration.
“Having your own, independent state is a great privilege, but also a great responsibility. This is our only, common home and it will be a decent place to live only if every one of us invests his effort and his conscience therein. At the same time, of course, the responsibility is greatest for those who have the honor to lead the municipality, city, government or state. I am absolutely convinced that if every one of us is dedicated to that cause fully, without any reservations, without any calculations, then we will have a state that we will all be proud of”, the President said.
In his address, he pointed out his views on the future, on what we should do in the coming years and decades to have a richer and more dignified life.
“To respect each other a little more, to understand that the different from us is not our enemy, that politics is a struggle for ideas and concepts for better today and tomorrow, not a struggle of life and death. If we manage to reconcile and channel our full potential, no one doubts that this nation has the strength, the knowledge, the energy, we have smart young people able to arrange the country”, President Pendarovski said.
In his address, he said that we should invest in quality education, invest in the health system, nurture the cultural and historical heritage and to invest in the new generation of artists who pair the best in the world.
“To build a state in which all its citizens will feel that they have equal rights and opportunities, a state without privileged and subordinated, without hosts and guests. A society sharing solidarity and humanity that will guarantee the dignity of both the most vulnerable and the weakest members”, President Pendarovski said.
As part of the central celebration, a festive parade and a music-entertainment program were held. The festive parade featured national ensembles and cultural and artistic groups of all communities in North Macedonia, miners, farmers, Red Cross volunteers, scouts, health professionals, athletes, firefighters, police and the army.
Today, on September 8, the day of the Macedonian independence, we celebrate our third, last and in historical perspective – the most important Ilinden. Today we are gathered to remember that independence was not given to us by anyone, but is the work of many generations guided by the ideal of a free and independent state.
In that whole historical continuity of the three Ilindens, the first to join were the Ilinden people who fought for freedom against death, the partisans who fought for statehood against occupation and the vast majority of citizens who 30 years ago voted for independence. It was no coincidence that Ilinden people like Brashnarov and Vlahov in 1944 were participants in the ASNOM founding session, and it was no coincidence that ASNOM Gligorov in 1991 publicly proclaimed the new chapter of the sovereign and independent Macedonian state.
The continuity, but also the concept of the state is clearly inscribed in the key documents of the three Ilindens. The Krushevo Manifesto that declares coexistence between equals. The Declaration on the Fundamental Rights of the Citizen of Democratic Macedonia from St. Prohor Pcinski and the Declaration of Sovereignty which confirm the vision of the founders of a democratic republic based on all international documents and principles of human rights and freedoms.
Hence, September 8 is not, as some skeptics commented once and today, a spontaneous and reckless adventure of a young and historically inexperienced nation, but a deliberate completion of the most important project in our history whose concept was worked on by a group of top Macedonian intellectuals. On September 8, 1991, the Macedonian citizens exercised their sovereign right to self-determination and declared independence in a peaceful and democratic way. The vote “for” a sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia was a vote of human dignity and expression of the inalienable right of every nation and every Macedonian citizen to decide for themselves, for their family, for their own country and future. That day – September 8, 1991, united in one all the previous Ilindens, all generations that dreamed, fought, died, and, in the end, won our freedom.
Dear fellow citizens,
When a nation creates its own state, then every individual inevitably comes to the notion that his destiny and future, his development and progress are inextricably linked to the destiny and future of the state he created. As the state is responsible for its citizens, so every one of us is responsible for the state, because its survival and its prospects depend on us.
Indeed, this 30th anniversary jubilee is an opportunity for a collective re-examination of our conscience. The question that Krste Petkov Misirkov posed back in 1903 for our generation still has equal weight today: What have we done and what should we do in the future? The honest and realistic answer is that this is a question for each and every one of us, but most of all for the previous political leaderships, whose responsibility is the greatest by far, even greater that the one of the ancestors who died in the mountains to create this country, not lesser for our children and grandchildren, for our youth.
To create its own state, our people in the past century and a half went through one of the greatest Golgothas that European history remembers. Let us just recall that in the final stage, we gained independence in extremely complex geopolitical and security circumstances, at the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the bloody disintegration of the Yugoslav federation. In such conditions, we met all the criteria for international recognition without the use of outrage and violence neither against our neighbors, nor against our own citizens. The then leadership had a difficult task, to establish plural democratic institutions for which we had no previous historical experience, to transform the economy and lay new foundations, to create new social rules and habits to enable the state to survive and develop in the new global order. Having in mind the work and merits of the leaders of that generation, some of them already recognized previously, today, with the Order “September 8”, I decorated the first parliamentary composition of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia and its first President.
Respected fellow citizens,
In these thirty years, we have all had the opportunity to confirm one truth, one reality, and that is that the survival and prosperity of our independent Macedonian state depend on two processes: internal inclusion and external integration. Multiethnic coexistence and the centuries-old tradition of respect for diversity are our greatest value and it is not only in the written documents that we will brag to the world, there are many examples in our everyday life where people share joy and sorrow equally, regardless of their faith or nation.
Starting from the Krusevo Manifesto, through the Framework Agreement to today’s models of living together, the subtle thread of inclusiveness is intertwined that holds the different ethnicities together for better or worse. The greatest success of a country is if all its citizens, whether Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Vlachs, Roma, Bosniaks or members of smaller ethnic groups, whether Christians, Muslims, Jews or atheists, feel it as their homeland.
However, at the same time, the future of the country depends on our full integration into important international organizations because small countries cannot survive in today’s global and turbulent world if they are completely alone, without allies and friends. From the very beginning of independence, all relevant political and social actors reached a general consensus on the need for membership in the North Atlantic Alliance, in the European Economic Community. Besides strengthening interethnic cohesion, the Euro-Atlantic integration has also reconciled political opponents. Integration processes have been, and still are, both a motive and a means of achieving European standards of living in many areas.
Taken together, internal inclusion and external integration are the key axes for long-term stability and prosperity of our country. North Macedonia can prosper only if all its citizens feel it as their homeland, and if it is fully integrated into the western community of nations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These two axes of our stability have not always been aligned. Sometimes it was due to the pressure of external factors over which we had no influence. Denials and threats, double standards, political blockades of our integration processes have taken away too much time and energy. Therefore, we made difficult yet necessary political compromises, in order to open new perspectives and get out of the isolation in which some people consciously pushed us.
But, to be honest, we are to blame for some of the problems. We lost years and years trying to carry out historical engineering on our origins and roots that are indisputable and confirmed long ago or when some rights related to the status and inclusion of the ethnic communities in the common state were kept too long at the margins. From time to time, the excessive ethnicization of politics and the partisanship of institutions further aggravated the situation leading to interethnic tensions, political crises and deep divisions among the citizens that undermined their confidence in their own country.
The effects of the long and tedious transition have gradually, in front of our eyes, contributed to the creation of the greatest danger and threat to our future, and that is – mass exodus of our citizens. Young people, as well as the elderly, emigrate when they stop believing that the state can provide decent living conditions worthy of man in the 21st century.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In this context, some pose the question whether we deserved independence at all. In my opinion, this is a question of a completely different categorical status that we should not confuse with the main one. The independence gained in 1991 is the third and last phase of the largest national project in our history, initiated and developed through the two Ilindens. Questions such as why today we have 450 Euros average salary instead of 1.000, whether the number of unemployed and emigrants had to be so high, or about the quality of the services that the state provides to citizens through the judiciary, administration and competent institutions, are absolutely legitimate. We should face the fact that these problems and difficulties doubt the effect of the rule of all political elites from independence until today, but, it does not, in any way, undermine the idea, does not deny the historical imperative to have an independent, free and finally, and most importantly, our own state. With all its weaknesses, the government elected by our citizens in free elections cannot be worse than any government imposed from outside, and such, unfortunately, in our history we have had for too long.
And, let us not forget that all our scientific, artistic, sports and strategic achievements in the past 30 years would not have been possible on such a scale if we did not have our own country. Therefore, without a single second of hesitation, without a shred of doubt we can say that the Macedonian statehood and independence are our greatest historical achievements we should be proud of.
But, ladies and gentlemen, what about the second part of Misirkov’s question? What should we do in the future, in the coming years and decades to have a richer and more dignified life? Misirkov himself gives the answer when he says that “in order to clear our conscience before our people for the sacrifices made by them, we should commit ourselves … to work”. And that, dear fellow citizens, is just the other name for patriotism, because patriotism implies daily sacrifices, but also daily dedicated work for the state, for the citizens, for the family, for the loved ones. True patriotism means obeying the law, using resources responsibly and preserving the environment because we have no other. True patriotism means educating our youth to be virtuous and responsible individuals.
And we all know what we lack: to respect each other a little more, to understand that the different from us is not our enemy, that politics is a struggle for ideas and concepts for better today and tomorrow, not a struggle of life and death. If we manage to reconcile and channel our full potential, no one doubts that this nation has the strength, the knowledge, the energy, we have smart young people able to arrange the country.
The ASNOM Manifesto reads: “The Macedonia we will build, we will have it”. Still, it is even more important to know what country we want to live in. If we want the young generations to stay in the country and live, work and create a future here, we must do more as a state and provide them with conditions to succeed at home, in their country.
We should build the Republic of North Macedonia as a state in which the rule of law will have no alternative. To invest in quality education that will prepare young people to get involved in the global digital revolution. To invest in the health system that will take care of the health of the citizens, praising the work of the health workers. To nurture the cultural and historical heritage and to invest in the new generation of artists who pair the best in the world. To build a state in which all its citizens will feel that they have equal rights and opportunities, a state without privileged and subordinated, without hosts and guests. A society sharing solidarity and humanity that will guarantee the dignity of both the most vulnerable and the weakest members.
Respected fellow citizens,
Today, when we celebrate the continuity of our three Ilindens, we should not lose sight of the fact that having our own, independent state is a great privilege, but also a great responsibility. We have no spare homeland. This is our only, common home and it will be a decent place to live only if every one of us invests his effort and his conscience therein. At the same time, of course, the responsibility is greatest for those who have the honor to lead the municipality, city, government or state. I am absolutely convinced that if every one of us is dedicated to that cause fully, without any reservations, without any calculations, then we will have a state that we will all be proud of.
May we all be alive and healthy to celebrate the next anniversaries!
Many happy returns to the Independence Day!