Addressing the New Year's reception for the diplomatic corps in the Republic of Macedonia
Friday, 18 January 2019 21:17   

DP_1Distinguished members of diplomatic corps,
Distinguished doyen of diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

First, allow me to wish you a Happy New Year 2019, filled with much success, to you and your countries and organizations.

In the past ten years as President of the Republic of Macedonia I had the opportunity to meet and cooperate with around 170 resident and non-resident ambassadors from around 100 countries and international organizations. Although I did not have the opportunity to have frequent meetings with everyone, still, I used every occasion to exchange opinions on important issues. One of those events is the traditional New Year's Reception.

When I was elected President of the Republic of Macedonia for the first time, in 2009, my goal always was to commence with the diplomatic activities for the upcoming year from new location and with new perspective. Therefore we got away from the comfort of the capital and took off on a 10-year diplomatic tour of the Republic of Macedonia. In the past years we visited Ohrid and Bitola, Krushevo and Berovo, Dojran and Gevgelija, Struga and Vevchani. It was an excellent opportunity, especially for the non-resident diplomats, to get to know the Republic of Macedonia better, its lasting values, rich traditions and potential for tourism. This diplomatic tour gave birth to new initiatives for cooperation at local level, twinning of cities and exchange of experiences which gives me great pleasure.

However, at global level, due to numerous downfalls and crises, this decade became known as the decade of fear. But, I have always seen opportunity for cooperation in crisis.

Therefore, the world economic crisis spurred us to be competitive at the global market and more attractive for potential foreign investors. This contributed to an increase of trade.

The migrant crisis, on the other hand, boosted close cooperation with the Visegrád Group countries, and the countries alongside the migrant route. As President of the Republic of Macedonia I publicly express my gratitude to all the countries that helped us, and are still helping us handle the threat of illegal migration. By helping the Republic of Macedonia, they help themselves and the whole European continent.
Finally, the security crisis encouraged us to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, and to increase our presence in the peacekeeping missions. Because peace and security are of everyone's interest.

On the brighter side of things, we have cooperated in the field of cultural diplomacy. The Macedonian public had the chance to see many exhibitions, attend many concerts and events initiated or organized by you.

Furthermore, on account of your cooperation, some of the most valuable Macedonian material and non-material, cultural and spiritual treasures were promoted in your countries. Together, we attended many friendly competitions and rejoiced at many sports victories.

We expressed our gratitude to some of the friends of the Republic of Macedonia such as Roman Herzog and Želju Želev, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen and Otto von Habsburg, Kiyoshi Mizuno, Elena Verizhnikova, Vladislav Barichkovski, George W. Bush and others, by presenting them with national awards.

We marked important jubilees and anniversaries. This year we approach 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations with 19 countries, among which Switzerland, the Russian Federation, Belgium, Japan, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Slovakia, Vietnam, Spain, Hungary, Luxemburg, Egypt, Portugal, the Holy See, and Austria.
The Republic of Macedonia presided over several institutions and initiatives, among which the Council of Europe, Quadrilateral, Central European Initiative, South-Eastern Europe Cooperation process and the Brdo-Brioni process which became crown jewel of the regional cooperation. We were members of the United Nations Human Rights Council and reaffirmed and consolidated the role of the Republic of Macedonia in the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. All of that was achieved on account of openness as a supreme principle in foreign policy.

As President of the Republic of Macedonia I paid numerous working and official visits to some of your countries. I had the opportunity to host or to meet some of your higher and highest representatives who visited the Republic of Macedonia in the past 10 years. All of this is a result of your cooperation as well. Therefore, I am sincerely grateful to the current and former ambassadors who, within the scope of their abilities, helped to strengthen the bilateral relations of the Republic of Macedonia, respecting its interests and values.

Distinguished attendees,

Each year, the editors of many world dictionaries choose Word of the Year. In most of the cases, that honor belongs to the word that has been looked up or used the most. For 2018, the editors of Oxford Dictionary chose the word toxic, while chose the word disinformation. We know that spicing politics with disinformation renders it toxic. From our point of view, I wonder which would be the Word of the Year, or even of the decade for the Republic of Macedonia. Some would say hypocrisy, others double standards, third might choose the phrase status quo.

However, selecting Word of the Year can follow different methodology. The editors of Merriam-Webster instead of the one most frequently used, choose the most necessary word. Hence, according to them the Word of the Year 2018 is justice.

I choose to follow this methodology and I seek what is lacking i.e. what we need the most.

Recently, I had meetings with some of you before my Annual Address at the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia. At those meetings I raised the dilemma of what would happen and what kind of reaction would it ensue if some of you would read the speech instead of me. I present the same dilemma today.

I expressed my stances regarding the recent events in the Republic of Macedonia at the Annual Address in the Assembly, and from the floor of the United Nations General Assembly. I would not change a single word, because I spoke of the truth on what the citizens need the most. That gives me strength to remain faithful to my decisions and positions.
I would reiterate the following. The right to self-determination and the right to existence of the Macedonian people, as well as the principles of democracy and rule of law must not be put to question.

The European Union and NATO memberships bring our whole society together, because for the Macedonian citizens, NATO translates into safety, and the European Union into prosperity.

I hope that beside elections, this 2019 will also provide essential and well thought out European reforms and capital investments which would improve the citizens' life in reality. That will be a true cause for triumphalism. Because that is what Macedonian citizens need.
The Macedonian citizens need hope above all.

On 7 May 2019 we will have the opportunity to welcome His Holiness, Pope Francis. The focus of his official visit to the Republic of Macedonia will be Mother Teresa as a prime example of the real, authentic co-existence, which is not imposed, but springs naturally from the Macedonian multiethnic, multilingual and multireligious society.

Respecting differences is a sign of trust, and the key for trust is responsibility, since each acquired right implies responsibility as well.
I wish to hope that the following years will provide revised lists of words on things that we are lacking in the Republic of Macedonia, and also in the world. I wish to hope that we will have justice, peace, human dignity, reforms, co-existence, responsibility, democracy, rule of law, and finally hope. Because, after the decade of fear, only hope can bring the people together and motivate them to build a better world.

With this message, in the very end, I wish you wellbeing and progress of your countries and people, and to you personally and the people closest to you - much health, joy and success.

Thank you.