President Stevo Pendarovski attended and addressed today the 10th jubilee Summit of “Macedonia2025”, which due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is held in hybrid form.
Emphasizing that we are facing a global recession caused by the pandemic, President Pendarovski in his address, stressed that the paradigm of recognizing opportunities, building a culture of competitiveness and quality education, is needed today more than ever.
The integral text of the address of President Pendarovski is below.
I am honored to address the 10th jubilee Summit of Macedonia 2025, an organization founded and run by successful Macedonian expatriates who are willing to help their first homeland become a strong and competitive economy. Despite the fact that since its inception, Macedonia2025 appeared in a specific context – the global financial crisis that slowed the pace of economic growth in many economies, it did not sway it in the intention to generate ambitious ideas for the prosperity of the country and the welfare of its citizens. The Macedonia2025 team did not give up on the project, but continued to look for ways to build a culture of competitiveness and quality education in the Macedonian society in terms of democratic political system and the rule of law.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This paradigm of recognizing opportunities, even in the greatest crises, is needed today more than ever. The Republic of North Macedonia is in a crucial period of its development. Last year’s NATO membership put the country in a new geopolitical context, and the European Union integration is directing the reforms in virtually all sectors.
The current global recession caused by the pandemic, in terms of its intensity and scope, exceeds the effects of the financial and credit crisis of 2008. This, so to speak, concentration of crises, as in many other places in the world, has shown our structural and systemic weaknesses. I will mention only the current energy crisis which additional presses the economy, companies and citizens, because we are highly energy dependent on imports.
Faced with all this, we have only one option. Instead of waiting for the turbulent developments to end, we should work with double energy to rethink the postulates of our economic growth and development. In that respect, we are not alone. Many national strategies and plans will have to be revised and adapted to the new reality, for easier and more sustainable post-Covid recovery.
For a better future, it is crucial to have a shared vision for the development of the country. For that purpose, at the very beginning of my term, I initiated the project “MKD2030” as our, authentic strategic framework for the development of North Macedonia until the end of this decade. Including representatives from all segments of society, through “MKD2030” we want to project long-term development priorities for our society. At the same time, I support the National Development Strategy 2021-2041, which, as a next phase, should complement “MKD2030”. In this short period before us, we must direct our joint efforts towards the key goal, and that is: to create a future for the citizens, especially for the youth, here in our country.
“MKD2030” focuses on several interdependent topics: from digitization, decentralization and democratization, through environmental, economic, agrarian and health policies, to education and science and combating emigration of young people from the country.
To be realistically viable, such development must focus on digitization. In its latest strategic report, the European Commission identifies digital hyper-connectivity and technological transformation as one of the four key global trends that will affect the European Union by 2050. In the near future, half of the professions will be automated, and many professions will simply become unnecessary.
The World Economic Forum estimates that due to the accelerated digitization of the global economy, even in the next decade, as much as 70% of the value created through production and services will be based on digital business models. In these processes, digital societies with a developed digital infrastructure and a culture of innovative, inclusive and sustainable business strategies will have an advantage.
Where are we in this picture? According to the latest Eurostat data for 2020, the average of digitization and digital skills in North Macedonia is only 32%, while the average in the European Union is 56%. Although a huge number of our citizens have access to the Internet, most of them use it mainly for information and communication through social media. It is necessary to focus our efforts on developing digital literacy and skills of citizens because they have already become an indispensable criterion for equal inclusion in the global labor market.
We do not start from scratch. There is a solid IT sector in the country which is growing every year with the creation of new jobs and increasing the share in the Macedonian economy.
In addition to reducing unemployment and economic growth, digitization provides the transparency needed to minimize perhaps the biggest disease for every country, and that is corruption. I include here the daily, so-called petty or benign corruption that burdens public services, but also high, malignant corruption related to organized crime.
In addition to this thesis, it is enough to look at the fourth Global Corruption Index for 2021, which shows that the most digitally developed European countries have the lowest level of corruption. In addition, digitization will raise the level of services for citizens, will contribute to having more accurate and timely data on the situation in the country, will facilitate doing business, will create a favorable climate for innovation, will open incubators and startups and will create a new generation of digital nomads.
As inappropriate as it may seem to talk about digitization at a time when the country is facing a serious energy crisis and price shocks, however, we must not allow current challenges to prevent us from planning this necessary step in development.
There are no good conditions to start positive changes. Good conditions will be the result of positive changes. The success of our generation will be assessed on the basis of whether we will be able to provide a better future for our youth, here in the Republic of North Macedonia. And we will only achieve that if we build an advanced knowledge based society and a sustainable economy based on technology.
I believe that with its platform for a prosperous future, Macedonia2025 will be part of our joint efforts to transform the whole society into prosperous one for this and future generations.
Thank you and I wish you a successful Summit.