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

Distinguished 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 Dictionary.com 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.

Annual Address by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Dr. Gjorge Ivanov, in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia
Friday, 28 December 2018 12:11

Distinguished attendees,

The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia obliges me, as President of the Republic of Macedonia, to address the Assembly on issues under my competence at least once a year. On this occasion and from the Assembly, I also wish to address Macedonian citizens on the most important issues that our Republic has been facing.

In this past year, as President of the Republic of Macedonia, I cooperated with the Government on various issues of shared competence. In the area of foreign policy, I accepted all quality government proposals for ambassadors, whom I believed would represent the Republic of Macedonia abroad in a professional manner. We also reached agreement on the new Governor of the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. I appointed a new Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. My cooperation with the Assembly was on the appointment of two new judges of the Constitutional Court. Such cooperation for the good of the country is indispensable in any cohabitation. However, there are reasons of essential importance putting our cohabitation to the test.

Before anyone thinks that this will be my final address, my summary on what has been done in the second term of office, I wish to state the following. It is still early for a summary. When, on May 12, 2014, I took this office for the second time, it was here, in this very hall, that I gave a solemn pledge that as President of the Republic of Macedonia and Supreme Commander of the armed forces I would defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Macedonia against internal and external challenges, threats and risks. In that statement, I said I would defend the Constitution and constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia. Today, from this same place, I repeat that I will observe that pledge until the very last day of my term of office. And I have no intention to do otherwise.

There is a very solid reason behind my decisiveness. It is exactly during this second term of office that the Republic of Macedonia is facing both internal and external threats and risks for its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

It is said that truth pierces through the lies; it uncovers failed promises and sheds a light on guilty conscience. And there is a lot of guilty conscience as regards the Republic of Macedonia.

Distinguished attendees,

Recently, in Paris, I participated in the events commemorating 100 years since the end of the First World War. All participants were invited to donate a book in the so-called Library of Peace. In that French library, I donated the book "The Macedonian Knot" written by the first German Ambassador in the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Hans Lothar Steppan. Why that particular book? It is because the unresolved Macedonian question was a reason for the Balkan wars and influenced the alliances in both the First and the Second World War.

In order to be sustainable, peace must be fair. And the fairness of an order, including international order, is seen from the way it treats the smallest peoples and states. The Macedonian knot started slowly unraveling with the creation of ASNOM Macedonia and the declaration of an independent Republic of Macedonia. What is very important is the fact that the Macedonian knot cannot be simply cut, but must be very carefully untangled. Because, by cutting the knot, one cuts and divides the Macedonian people. As all my predecessors did, as President of the Republic of Macedonia I too worked on untangling that knot. I was aware that there are issues that cannot be negotiated, acquired rights that cannot be discussed, red lines that cannot be crossed. However, in the past two years, there came someone to power, who thought that cutting the knot would be sufficient for resolving the Macedonian question, and this - at any price.

That is the essence of the problem. When you are ready to resolve an issue at any price, then the price you pay is the highest. The price for resolving the Macedonian question in this manner is a legal and historical deletion of Macedonian people, because without the Macedonian people, Macedonian identity and Macedonian language, there will no longer be a Macedonian question. In other words, the question of identity will be resolved through its deletion. With this, the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian people have been pushed into a legal, political and historical abyss. The Pandora's box has been opened and now almost everyone believes they have the right to deny what is our acquired right. And this at several levels and on several occasions.

Let me start from the end, which is the Prespa Agreement.

Since the beginning of our independence, Greece has been objecting our right to self-determination; it took away our right to prosperity and now, 27 years later, it puts into question our right to existence. The tragedy is in that, it is doing this thanks to the Prespa Agreement. Adopted under the excuse that it should end the name dispute with Greece and open the path towards membership in the European Union and NATO, this Agreement actually puts an end to the Republic of Macedonia as we know it. The Agreement violates internal law clauses of fundamental importance. The text of this Prespa Agreement has been drafted without a national consensus, without my knowledge and without my consent as President of the Republic of Macedonia.

And yet, there was one thing that stood in its way. It was the people's fundamental right to self-determination. In a Republic, only the people have the right to manage themselves and decide on their life; to choose their name and the name of the country they established, the language they speak and the culture they build. This is why this Government and this parliamentary majority asked the people to agree on that change - in order to interpret the legal deletion of Macedonian people as its own personal will.

On September 30, a referendum was held, whereby Macedonian people were asked to state their opinion on the Prespa Agreement. On that referendum, people were given a false alternative. They had to choose between prosperity and identity, as if there is such a thing as prosperity without identity.

During the referendum campaign, the Government claimed that the Prespa Agreement recognizes Macedonian people, protects Macedonian language and strengthens Macedonian identity.

Official Athens denied all statements of our Government. Greek Prime Minister Tsipras stated on several occasions that the Agreement does not recognize Macedonian people and Macedonian identity. Recently, Greek President Pavlopoulos confirmed that he would not accept a frivolous interpretation of the agreement.

Of all these issues, I will only refer to Macedonian language. It is claimed that with the Prespa Agreement, Macedonian language will finally be protected. Protected with what? How can this government state that they have fought and won an inalienable right? Macedonian language was fought for and won by those who had the courage to speak it when it was forbidden; to codify it when it was denied; to promote it when it was ignored. They were the one who protected the Macedonian language, and this government merely reduced it to a bargaining chip. The current government started bargaining with the ones who pretend to hold the key to our past and dispute our historical right to existence and self-determination. Instead of protected, Macedonian language has been exposed to the attacks of those who contest it, and by trying to delete or rename it, they exercise oppression over Macedonian identity.

The risk was enormous. The referendum of September 30 could have brought the Republic of Macedonia into a state of submission and dependence to another state.

In such unhealthy circumstances, the immunity of the Macedonian society woke up against the imposed solution. The referendum was unsuccessful. With the insufficient turnout at the referendum, the people spoke against premature, imposed and detrimental solutions made without a previous national consensus. On September 30, by not voting, the quiet majority made a loud vocal decision. A decision that no one has a mandate by the people to change the Constitution in order to change the constitutional name and that no one has the right to trade our identity.

The biggest success of this Government is that it convinced the international community that the referendum would be a success and that the people would support the Prespa Agreement. But at the end of the day, the representatives of the international community also faced the fact that the people rejected this agreement. Immediately after that, the Government started looking for excuses and someone to blame for that failure.

My message is not to look for excuses. The reason for the failure of the referendum is very simple. The people recognized the blackmail and rejected it.

The fate of the people depends on the fate of the country. But the fate of the country also depends on the political maturity of its people. By boycotting the referendum, the people defended their right to existence and preserved their acquired right to self-determination. And I am convinced that one day, a generation of politicians will come who will hold on to what someone is ready to easily give up on now.

In my address at the United Nations, I already spoke on this issue. Opportunities always exist, both in terms of our relations with Greece and the relations at home.

First, resetting our relations with the Republic of Greece and going back to the authentic and non-imposed confidence building measures that had started giving results. However, in order to achieve this, both Greek and Macedonian society should learn how to live together in spite of their deepest differences and perceptions.

Second, resetting of the national consensus in the Republic of Macedonia. We should discuss and consider options for resolution of the issue in accordance with international law, through the respect of our fundamental right to self-determination. This however, takes political will here, in our country.

Distinguished attendees,

In any functioning democracy, a failed referendum would have meant end of the process. The will of the people expressed on a referendum is a guideline. A sign of democratic maturity is to have decision makers follow that guideline, because citizens are the first and only source of legitimacy.

Unfortunately, this was not our case. In spite of official results, we saw attempts for loose interpretation of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Macedonia, in order to present the failed referendum as a success, both in the eyes of the domestic and the international public.

The majority in the Assembly not only failed to respect it, but they went against the will of the people.

The Republic of Macedonia is our common home. Your intention is to reconstruct it by removing its main pillars and dig around its foundations. The main pillars are the Constitution and the laws. The foundations are the key state-establishing documents of ASNOM. Where is the awareness that with this, we are at risk to live in a home with dug out foundations and fragile pillars? Is that the home we are willing to leave to our children and grandchildren?

The Preamble of the Constitution is the grand narrative on how the people created their country. The Preamble notes the moment of realization of the right to self-determination. Now, something that has been absolved and closed long ago, is being reopened. The Republic of Macedonia is a lasting privilege of the Macedonian people. With the Greek agreement, this lasting privilege is becoming relative. As if there is a certain failure to understand that by making what is lasting relative, we are making ourselves relative as people.

The Prespa agreement is not the only issue.

When back in 2017, I signed the Law on Ratification of the Agreement on friendship, good neighborly relations and cooperation with the Republic of Bulgaria, I pointed out a very important thing. The Agreement speaks about a shared history of the two states and their peoples. That shared history refers to the period since the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia by the Republic of Bulgaria, i.e. since 1992. This is the true historical framework of the agreement which does not focus on the past, but rather on the future. Instead, it became subject to free interpretation due to which the Republic of Macedonia has been pushed into a labyrinth that will be very difficult to exit. Now Sofia is announcing an annex to the agreement.

Orwell wrote that "whoever controls the past controls the future, and whoever controls the present controls the past." Why such aversion towards history? You claim that the Macedonian people are living in the past and you wish to lead them to the future. People do not live in the past, but with their past, and this not in order to hate, but to remember. And now you wish to censor collective memory as well.

Finally, I will add the third great challenge for the Macedonian state besides the Prespa Agreement and the free interpretation of the agreement with Bulgaria – the Tirana Platform. Regardless of the fact that some deny the existence of a Tirana Platform, acts speak louder than words on the aims and intentions.

The Law on the Use of Languages, the way it has been written, but also voted, will provoke a full blockage of the work of institutions. There are almost no articles in that Law which do not violate the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. The Law was adopted in the Assembly outside of any procedure and competent bodies. The legal deadline has been breached, the EU flag has been misused, and the Venice Commission was not consulted. I returned the Law to the Assembly without my signature and with a series of comments. The parliamentary majority ignored my comments, but also the positions of experts and the opposition.

Someone not only lacked the courage to face the truth regarding the unconstitutionality of the Law on the Use of Languages, but they also lacked the courage to sign the submission for initiating a criminal proceeding against me. Do they intent to use anonymous criminal proceeding in order to press the President of the state to break the Constitution?

As President, but above all as a person, I respect the Albanian people just as I respect the Turk, Serb, Vlach, Roma and Bosniac people.

One must never forget that the Republic of Macedonia is a common home of all its citizens. Every community is able to use its language in all spheres and at all levels in accordance with the Constitution. This unity in diversity is possible tanks to the Macedonian language that plays the vital role of an official language of the country, a basic communication code and a cohesive factor that connects all segments of Macedonian multiethnic, multi-religious and multilingual society. Macedonian language is the lingua franca thanks to which members of different communities are able to understand each other. It is part of our social contract. Our strength lies in our diversity, and our diversity is guaranteed through our unity. An expression of that unity is the Macedonian language.

In case this anti-constitutional Law on the use of languages enters into force, then Macedonian language will no longer be the lingua franca uniting Macedonian society.

Distinguished attendees,

As a consequence of such worrisome processes, the Macedonian people are becoming a taboo in the Republic of Macedonia. A few years ago, we had a forbidden book. This year, we witnessed an attempt to ban a movie dealing with a Macedonian issue. Many contents from history schoolbooks might be banned. And now there is an announcement that expressing one's ethnic affiliation at the census will be forbidden. I have been insisting on a census for a long time, but I wonder what the purpose of a census without the possibility of expressing one's ethnic affiliation might be?

The Ohrid Framework Agreement embedded in our Constitution the concept of individual use of collective rights acquired on the basis of a percent of representation of ethnic communities. I ask very publicly: Does such a census devalue the Ohrid Framework Agreement? Is this not undermining our multiethnic democracy? Do we forget that without an ethnic box there will be no Ohrid Framework Agreement?

Unfortunately, this self-censorship does not stop in institutions, but has a spillover effect on the everyday life of citizens.

I hear about parents who already wonder whether they should sing Macedonian songs to their children by fear of being branded as chauvinists. I hear about authors who wonder if it is of any use to publish books on Macedonia. There are companies who do not know what will happen with the Macedonian brands they worked do hard to build.

Instead of virtue and honor, the love towards our homeland has become a sin.

We are living in the century of human rights and freedoms. All identity battles in the world are fought for a formal and legal recognition of identities. Have you ever wondered why almost all minorities, regardless of whether they are ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, are so insistent on their legal recognition? It is because of the legal effect. It is true that no one can take away my personal right to self-identify as Macedonian. But without the right to self-determination, self-identification has no legal effect. In the time when they had no country of their own, many of our ancestors identified themselves as Macedonians, but were formally and legally imposed other, foreign identities. Now you are depriving the Macedonian people of their formal collective right to identity, satisfying yourselves only with the informal individual right to self-identification.

You cannot love Macedonia without loving Macedonians.

You cannot love Macedonia without loving the Macedonian people.

Why should we be the only state in the Balkans without a state-establishing people?

Just as the Prespa agreement denies Macedonian people, and the free interpretation of the agreement with Bulgaria deconstructs Macedonian history, thus the Tirana platform and the anti-constitutional Law on the use of languages attempts at dismantling the Macedonian state.

According to the latest polls, the majority of young people believe that the Republic of Macedonia is moving in the wrong direction. And this should be of no surprise to anyone, since we have become a country of starting things backwards.

Let me remind you that first, citizens were asked for their vote at the elections, and then they were informed that they actually voted for the Tirana platform and the Greek agreement.

The Law on the use of Languages was first adopted, and then it was announced that it would be sent for opinion to the Venice Commission.

Members of the Assembly were first arrested, and then they were stripped of their parliamentary immunity.

The settlement on the name issue was first accepted, and then I was informed as President of the country.

That detrimental Greek settlement was first made, and then the citizens were asked for their opinion at the referendum.

The Government first agreed to an amendment of the Constitution, and only then they forced a two thirds majority, and this by blackmailing members of the Assembly.

The Government first agreed on a Greek settlement that would reflect on the future of the people, and then decided to stage a public debate.

Laws are made to be respected; institutions are established to cooperate, but also to exercise control over each other in order to prevent any mistakes from happening. Only through the rule of law and legal mechanisms can the state realize its essential role, which is to care about the common good of its citizens.

Not a day as passed without someone asking why I accepted, and even more why I did not activate the guarantees that Zaev gave for the mandate. My answer is that with his signature on those written guarantees, I put a veto on the Law on the use of Languages and the Law on ratification of the Prespa agreement. With this, the guarantees have indeed been activated. And they were activated because we are faced with an absurd situation.

The destruction of the state if being justified with the assurance of a future for the state.

From a so-called captured state, I have the feeling that we have also become a blackmailed state.

From the outside, we have been blackmailed by our neighbors, and on the inside, we see many decision makers being blackmailed.

Blackmail became the basic means for realization of goals.

Fellow citizens,

"There will come months and years when politicians, regardless of who will be in power, and who will be in opposition, will deal with serious and strategically important decisions for the country, the nation and our identity, and I do not want to allow neither those in power nor those in opposition, to make decisions and at the same time, be burdened or under personal pressure from the possibility of being unjustly blackmailed, faced with a personal threat on their freedom, honor and reputation, future, or any other blackmail by an external or internal factor. This is perhaps why someone provoked this situation in the first place - In order to be able to influence them or perhaps even control their decisions, above all driven by personal interest."

This is not a description of the current situation. These are the words I said on April 12, 2016, when I made the decision for pardon. I will leave the Macedonian public to decide whether I was right.

On April 27, political violence led to physical violence. I most strongly condemn violence. But, since I have mentioned the blackmail of members of parliament and the generous amnesty that has been offered, I wish to ask one question.

What is the difference between my pardons and your amnesty? Their goals.

My goal was reconciliation through pardon, and your goal is providing support for constitutional changes through blackmail.

While I made the decision for pardon in order to prevent chaos in the country, you made the decision for amnesty in order to legalize the blackmails that bring about chaos and destroy the rule of law.

My pardons did not exclude a procedure for confiscation of illegally acquired property and implied a filtering of the Macedonian political scene and promotion of new people in politics. Your amnesty is just another precedent for blackmail.

I signed this law not for the sake of the majority with which you passed it, nor for the sake of the majority of people who will most likely be covered by this amnesty. If you passed the Law on Amnesty for the sake of the MPs and in order to pass the constitutional amendments, I signed it in order to unveil your true goals and intentions – that this is not an amnesty for reconciliation, but an amnesty for blackmail. Macedonian people cannot reconcile through such reconciliation. Also, I signed the law for the sake of those patriots whose non-violent love for their homeland was obviously abused for other purposes. Let this Law on Amnesty be a testimony for double standards, because double standards are violence against justice. And without justice there is no true reconciliation, without justice there is no peace.

However, in a divided society such as ours, one cannot expect the words to have the same value. As long as forgiveness and reconciliation are nothing but a means to reach another aim, you will only devalue both forgiveness and reconciliation. National reconciliation will happen only when all of us, regardless of our ethnic, religious, political or any other affiliation, will ask for forgiveness by those we have wronged and will forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiveness should go hand in hand with responsibility.

Distinguished attendees,

No one can blackmail me. They could not blame me of immoral or criminal behavior, and so they tried to tarnish my reputation through constructions, lies, offensive and derogative language, and even falsified notes.

I have endured threats as well. There are public personalities who have openly called for a lynch and murder of the President and his family. They offended us and tried to humiliate us. This is the nature of some of my critics – people who cannot say anything positive about themselves, and tend to speak the worst about others.

But in spite of it all, public opinion polls in the past 10 years have undeniably shown that the President of the Republic of Macedonia is a political institution enjoying the highest trust among citizens. One more thing. If we are to believe the latest polls on what the future President of the Republic should be like, most of the citizens said that a President should first be honest. This is my personal contribution to restoring the trust in the institution of President. Whoever takes this position after me, must above all be honest.

In this past period, we witnessed false statements on invented events and inexistent communication in order to prove my alleged involvement in the events of April 27. With the help of a generous amnesty, it seems that someone is trying to hide the truth on those who really ordered the violence on April 27 and come up with a tailor made story of benefit to them.

We all deserve the truth. And the only truth about what I have been accused of is the following: A scenario for a state of war or a state of emergency has never existed, unless the Republic of Macedonia had a parallel Supreme commander of the armed forces and a parallel General Staff of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia and unless someone misused my name for their own purposes.

I wish to address the entire Macedonian public from this place. There have been all sorts of information received that, on the basis of a verbal instruction, and I repeat, a verbal instruction, there is active monitoring, recording and wiretapping of the President of the country, the members of his family and the members of his Office. This is just an indicator that systems, titles, governments, ministers and directors have changed, but UDBA remained UDBA along with its methods.

And since I am mentioning the Security and Counter-Intelligence Administration (UBK), let me remind you that last year I also said that UBK is the generator of political, institutional and security crises. Instead of enforcing laws, UBK works outside of its legal mandate.

This is the consequence of a major delusion. Every party coming to power believes it can control the UBK, only to understand in the end that UBK is the one who controls. As several other times in the past, the UBK is again used as a tool for constructing false cases for the purpose of revanchism, persecution and blackmail. It is machinery for de-legitimization of state institutions, something that we all felt recently. UBK is one of the main instruments for blackmail.

Reforms are offered, it is true. But the reforms offered are more of a form and façade and less of content. The Priebe recommendations have not been fulfilled in substance. The reforms make an attempt at shifting the concentration of power from the MOI to the Government, legalizing the illegal, making the unlawful lawful and offering the perpetual crisis generators as saviors from crises - of course, after they reform themselves according to criteria only they know about. These unsubstantial reforms leave a large space for abuse and violation of basic human rights and freedoms. I wish to remind you that you might be the next victims of such abuse. It is forgotten that apart from power, responsibility must be transferred as well. Therefore I ask who are the protectors protecting and who will protect us from the protectors?

The dilemma remains on how to protect democracy in the Republic against fake news, constructions and fabricated cases that are being institutionalized through the UBK. Recently, we all witnessed the existence of fabricated classified reports used in the making of court decisions. I am afraid to even think how many such fabricated UBK documents have been a basis for constructed cases.

Fellow citizens,

In the past 10 years as President of the state and in the past 27 years as a citizen and university professor, I have never seen any other perspective for the Republic of Macedonia except membership in the European Union and NATO. I believe in the European idea as a peace project that opens space and transforms states and societies. Membership in the European Union and NATO is what unites our entire society, because to Macedonian citizens, NATO means security and the EU means prosperity. Macedonian citizens have chosen me twice to work on the realization of this aim.

I am doing best within the realm of my competence. As Supreme commander of the armed forces, I have been attaching great importance to the Army of the Republic of Macedonia, through which we are practically in NATO. The Army has successfully and with great dedication tackled all challenges and fully justified my trust and the trust of Macedonian citizens.

For me, it is an honor to be the Supreme commander of an army whose spirit is unbreakable. But that spirit must be kept alive. And this is why, we must invest in the Army. Not only in terms of equipment, training and technology, but also in terms of raising the standard of life of the members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. By taking care of our troops, officers and civilians, we take care of the Army, and by taking care of the Army, we take care of ourselves, of the Republic of Macedonia, its safety and its Euro-Atlantic integration.

As President, I have continuously advocated a date and start of negotiations for accession in the European Union with all my interlocutors. There has been virtually no event or meeting where I have not raised this issue.

However, we need to provide solution to the key structural problems in the Republic of Macedonia, rather than postponing and waiting for them to go away on their own once we join the EU and NATO.

Many of our strategic partners were convincing us that the Prespa Agreement would open the doors to EU and NATO membership. But strangely enough, some of them have been quiet about the fact that even if the doors of integration are opened, the iron grid of reforms will still remain. Prespa will not make that grid disappear. At its July Summit, the European Union clearly pointed out the need for reforms. And reforms are a long and painful process.

Here I refer not only to reforms in the area of security, but also the judiciary, education and healthcare. I know that the new Government inherited these problems. But instead of resolving problems, we only see a repetition of mistakes. I wonder if the change that we all expected – intellectuals, professionals, NGOs, people – actually happened.

First, the judiciary. Who among those who promote rule of law actually respects the rule of law? We have become a state of free interpretation of the Constitution and laws. Law has been reduced to a mere political instrument of the governing structure that raises anything they wish to the level of law. Justice still remains a servant of power. Are you not aware that if a citizen loses his faith in justice, it means he has lost his strongest link to the state. In other words, he no longer feels the Republic of Macedonia as his own state. Have you ever wondered why even economically well standing citizens are leaving the country? It is because of the uncertainty of the future of their children. God help the generation whose judges deserve to be judged, they say. I do not wish this to become a state where such a statement would be true.

Second, healthcare. Everyone should be aware that our children and our most loved ones fall ill or die because of bad conditions and lack of staff. Instead of emptying themselves from patients, our hospitals are emptying themselves from medical staff. Doctors and nurses are leaving abroad. These are inherited problems stemming from premature reforms. This is why, when reforms are implemented, instead of narrow political party interests, the only thing to have in mind should be the interest of patients.

Thirdly, education. It is high time to stop educational experimenting on high school and university students. They are a potential for change in our society, and we all saw that. We need equal opportunities for all, equal access to knowledge for all, regardless of where they live and the language they study in.

Just as defending the state needs an army, defending society needs schools. In the past, we saw rushed reforms. This is why now, reforms should be the result of comprehensive public debates including teachers, students and parents. Every true reform begins with the question: What is the purpose of education, for this generation and in this millennium? I will never forget the words of a world known intellectual who once said that he would sue an educational system that, instead of innovators, only produces job seekers.

Here, the issue of economy naturally follows. The new Government brought about hope in people that after a turbulent time with deep crises, there will finally be a period of stability. But instead of major economic projects and reduction of unemployment, we have greater debt. The same mistakes that were criticized in the past period are now being repeated: Corruption, nepotism, employment in state institutions in exchange for votes and support, appointment of irresponsible people on responsible positions. These steps and policies in the wrong direction have disappointed the citizens who expected a better life to come in the Republic of Macedonia. 30% of children in the Republic of Macedonia are living in poverty. All policies and reforms should be directed towards resolving this problem. However, I do not see the focus being on the right place if parliamentary privileges after the end of the mandate are a higher priority than the purchasing power of citizens.

Due to all these crises, the Republic of Macedonia has been shifted from the maps of energy corridors. Who would like to see a key corridor transiting a politically seismic area? Instead of a transit state that will benefit from the transit of resources, we will unfortunately only be an end user that will pay for the transit of resources. Instead of energy interdependent, we will only be energy dependent on our neighbors that will be able to keep us in an energy siege. The price for this will be paid by citizens and companies.

Part of this price is air pollution. It seems that the air in Macedonia is more polluted when a political party is in opposition, and cleaner when it is in power. And vice versa. Polluted air is not a subject matter for gaining political credit. According to the latest polls, pollution is one of the most concerning problems for our citizens. Clean environment is a human right. However, cancelling the results of local referenda on mines implies that human rights are only protected to the measure that corresponds to the narrow interests of political and business heavyweights.

Distinguished attendees,

At the end of my address, it is not very pleasant to again speak of the same problems instead of quality solutions.

I wish to remind you that in 2014, I urged for a dialog among state institutions in order to overcome the political crisis.

I 2015, I called upon political parties to demonstrate unity regarding the state interests.

In the following 2016, I said that the word of the year should be responsibility, and not a general one, but a specific and personal one.

In 2017 I called for reconciliation, forgiveness and an end to revanchism.

If you had heard me then, perhaps today your responsibility would have been lesser. But I did tell you, and this is why the responsibility for this most difficult situation in the Republic of Macedonia since its independence until today is yours.

It is said that those who are slaves to the money know the price, but forget about the value of things. They forget that there are things with value that are priceless. The value of a house consists in the fact that it is a home. The value of the Republic of Macedonia consists in that it is our only shared home. We have no reserve homeland. Therefore to us, the Republic of Macedonia is priceless. Unfortunately, we act as if it has no value at all.

We rely on the international community and hope it will fight our battles. But we forget that the battles that others fight for us never transform us. We are only transformed and made better by the battles we fight ourselves. If you want to make a functioning community our of a group of individuals, give them an aim that they can only achieve together. That aim is the Republic of Macedonia. Only together will we be able to preserve it; only together will we be able to build it.

The greatest work of anyone who wishes to create a state is not mere establishment of a system, but above all the maintenance of that system. A projection of that system in the future, in remote future. Almost every state system, no matter how imperfect, can be sustained for a short while. 27 years of independence of the Republic of Macedonia are just a moment in the long history of humanity and human strive for freedom and order. Our aim should be much more durable. Let us build the Republic of Macedonia as a state that will last and outlive us, our children, and their children.

Only a generation born in freedom can build a free society. But a measurement unit for freedom is truth. Therefore, we must start with the truth.

At the beginning of my address, I said that truth pierces through the lies; it uncovers failed promises and sheds a light on guilty consciousness. I said that there is a lot of guilty conscience regarding the Macedonian case. But truth liberates and allows the guilt to be acknowledged, mistakes to be corrected and wounds to be healed. Therefore, today, from this assembly stand, I loudly told the truth. Not in order to incite hatred, because hatred leads to division, but to face reality together.

Reality is that there is a major difference between freedom with responsibility and freedom without responsibility. The first is a basis of a free society, and the second is just another name for disorder and anarchy. This leads to disorder without freedom. Disorder ruled by hatred. People who hate their political and ideological opponents are not, and can never be free. They are the captives of hatred and the desire for revenge and revanchism.

This is why we need to set ourselves free from hatred and revanchism, and turn to reconciliation - but the authentic one, without hidden agendas - the path to which leads through truth and responsibility.

Through truth and responsibility that lead to reconciliation, we will achieve a just and fair society in which mutual respect will again be our highest value. A society in which government and opposition, instead of sworn enemies, will see themselves as dignified opponents and partners for the common good of the citizens who elected them. A state that will nurture the culture of respect for the Constitution and laws. A society in which young people will have real hope for a fulfilled life and perspective. A state in which people will enjoy legal security and the freedom to plan their life. A state in which children will live in a clean and healthy environment. A state in which entrepreneurs will have open markets and fair competition.

A state in which students will compete with ideas and innovators with their inventions. A state in which pensioners will have decent pensions for a dignified old age. A state in which the salaries of doctors, teachers and educators will correspond to the enormous responsibility they have - to care about the health of the body and mind of each and every one of us.

Let me remind you that these were the aims of the founders of sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia. One of them, President Kiro Gligorov, stated that the issue of name and identity is older than any Constitution, Government, political party or President. It is even older than the state. No individual, of any generation, has been given the right to trade that name and identity. Today, from this stand, I still hope that this parliamentary majority will find the strength to listen to the voice of the people and reject the Prespa agreement and the constitutional amendments.

The people not only chose, but they defended the name of their country, and that name is the Republic of Macedonia. I myself, as its President, remain to defend the will of the people, and have no intention to do otherwise.

Thank you.

Address by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Dr. Gjorge Ivanov
Friday, 07 December 2018 21:08

Distinguished citizens of the Republic of Macedonia,

On several occasions over the past few years, I have publicly warned of the dangers that threaten the stability of the Republic of Macedonia and the sovereignty of its citizens. It is my deepest regret to conclude that all of my warnings were ignored and the result of that disregard is presently felt by everyone.

Today, I address you, the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, in order to unmask all of the lies, conjectures and dark scenarios, which we were bombarded by in the past period. Since the beginning of my mandate I have represented the country responsibly and I am convinced that only with an honest and transparent approach we can counter the lies about the alleged involvement of my Office, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia and the Intelligence Agency in the events around 27 April.

Distinguished citizens,

There was never a conversation, nor was there a consideration in the Office of the President of the Republic of Macedonia to declare state of war or a state of emergency.

Thereby, I dismiss all of the speculations that say the international community put a pressure on me in order to make me step back from some kind of alleged plan for declaring state of war or a state of emergency.

There was never scenario for a state of war or a state of emergency, unless a parallel Supreme Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and a parallel General Headquarters of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia were operating in the Republic of Macedonia.

The real question is – who, in those moments, benefited from the abuse of the President's Office and from the creation of a false perception that a state of war or a state of emergency is being declared.

I would refer those who accuse me and create fake news in order to delegitimize the institution President, to Article 124 of the Constitution which specifies that a state of war exists when a direct danger of military attack on the Republic is impending, or when the Republic is attacked, or war is declared on it. Furthermore, according to Article 125 of the Constitution, a state of emergency exists when major natural disasters or epidemics take place. My dear fellow citizens, none of the aforementioned has happened on 27 April.

For a year and a half, I, as President of the Republic of Macedonia and my Office were a constant target of fake news and false conjectures in order to involve us in the events of 27 April, no matter the cost.

Starting from 27 April 2017, the Office of the President of the Republic of Macedonia is being blamed without any evidence or indications. Pressure has been put on me and threats have been made in order to make me yield and back down from my attitudes on the political events in the Republic of Macedonia and on the policies that the current Government follows. I am reiterating for who knows how many times – I will not back down from my stances.

These past few days we have even been witnesses to false testimonies given in the court proceedings related to the events of 27 April.

At first, I would like to point out that one is criminally liable for giving a false testimony (perjury) to the Court.
Secondly, I urge everyone who accuses me to feel free to address the competent institutions: the Ministry of Defense, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia, the Intelligence Agency, the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence and other aforementioned institutions, and seek reliable information on the scheduled daily activities of every senior officer, commander and soldier.

These institutions should answer the questions where the persons in charge were on 27 April or before that, and whether there are any administrative records on preparations for state of war or any emergency scenarios.
Just as a reminder, all of the reports from the Office of the President and the Intelligence Agency related to the events on 27 April were delivered to the Primary Public Prosecutor's Office.

Distinguished citizens,

I will remind you once again that my Office has denounced the fake news, which are continuously used to build a negative perception about us, many times. It is my opinion that we need to put an end to this type of nebulous speculations once and for all.

Nothing of what part of the media was writing about this past period turned out to be true. Not even the rumors that we are preparing "Jasen" as a shelter in case of a state of war, nor the claims that my Office permitted entry to a foreign intelligence agent in the Assembly on 27 April.

What is being shunned, intentionally or not, and it is a thing the citizens should be aware of, is that "Jasen" is a Public Enterprise and that it is under the authority of the Government. And this is a fact that can be easily verified. The attempt to cover up the unprofessionalism of a foreign intelligence agent using the excuse that the Office permitted him entry in the Macedonian Assembly was also foiled.

At the same time, the prosecutor Vilma Ruskoska has clearly confirmed that the Public Prosecution Office does not have proof of involvement of the Office of the President in the events on 27 April.

The General Headquarters of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia has also denied involvement in the events on 27 April and called for transparency when providing information related to these events.

Moreover, the Intelligence Agency as well, has strongly condemned all attempts to involve the Agency in conjectures and fake news.

Distinguished citizens,

Now I would like to publicly ask a question. Are the testimonies of the defendants more relevant than the claims of the competent institutions and the public officials?

At the same time, when the General Headquarters clearly and unequivocally denies involvement in the events on 27 April, or any type of scenarios related to state of war or an emergency, I cannot but ask another question in front of the whole Macedonian public – In a time when the days before receiving an official invitation for NATO-membership are numbered, who stands to gain from the degradation of the Army which enjoys the highest reputation among you, the citizens, and it is the only institution that hasn't received any remarks fulfilling the criteria and the standards of NATO.

Just as a reminder, as President of the Republic of Macedonia, I have pointed out two years ago that ASC is the focal point generating all of the political and security crises in the Republic of Macedonia. Even after three years from Priebe's diagnosis, the disease has not been removed. If ASC has the audacity to groundlessly follow the activities of my Office and to put me down, as President, in official notes describing events that never took place, I fear the thought of what is happening with this institution and how reports are fabricated using fictional sources in order to a achieve a certain goal. With premeditated leakage of classified information, a false perception is being built with the goal of eventually producing a court – police case.

On the other hand, I would like to emphasize that lately we are also witnesses of impunity following the premeditated leakage of classified documents from ASC. I would like to call upon the competent institutions to act and sanction this type of incidents which endanger the national security.

Finally, I can conclude that this is but a classic witch hunt and lynch - a desperate scenario constructed against me, my Office and the aforementioned institutions. I assure you that by using these purchased false testimonies and by generating fake news the reality and the real people, who issued the orders for the events of 27 April, cannot be hidden away. The Office of the President is not a service for providing alibis.

Thank you.

Presenting the award “Macedonian Quality 2018”
Friday, 07 December 2018 12:57

Distinguished businessmen,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

I am honored to sponsor the Macedonian Quality Award for the fourth year in a row. This Award contributes to the production development of the Republic of Macedonia, improves the quality of Macedonian products, stimulates creativity, research and innovation in Macedonian companies, and it also helps the creation of recognizable Macedonian quality on the international market.

Behind this Award there is hard work, confidence and a vision to promote Macedonian quality. The Award is an additional encouragement to the ten winners to continue developing, to invest in their growth and progress and to work on their quality. They already are well-known brands and I believe that they will soon start conquering the regional, continental and world markets. Their success is a success of the Republic of Macedonia as well. Only with successful economic entities can we expect development of our economy, and consequently progress and prosperity.

I wish to congratulate the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce on the idea and its realization to present this type of award which is becoming а traditional event. In accordance with my competences and capacity as President of the Republic of Macedonia I always leave the door open for cooperation with the Macedonian companies abroad and the foreign companies in the Republic of Macedonia.

stopanska_komora_21There are exceptional examples, among the members of the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce and among the present winners of the Award, of socially responsible companies which invest part of their profits for the needs of the community. That is undoubtedly a part of the Macedonian quality and values that we are promoting today.

Finally, I wish to congratulate this year's winners, and to the other members of the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce - I wish they achieve great results next year and, of course, to be part of the most successful ones which will receive the Macedonian Quality Awards.
Allow me to use this occasion, seeing the end of 2018, a period when all expectations and hopes are directed towards the new 2019, to wish you all good health, happiness and success. May the New Year be fruitful, businesswise, and may it bring prosperity to the Macedonian companies, as well as recognition of the Macedonian quality.

Thank you.


Lecture at the University of Wrocław on: “Bridges of friendship and cooperation: Macedonia – Poland”
Tuesday, 04 December 2018 16:18

Your Magnificence,
Distinguished Mr. Rector,
Distinguished deans, professors, students,
Esteemed attendees,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As President of the Republic of Macedonia, it is an honor to address the prestigious University of Wrocław in the friendly Republic of Poland. Poland is a country that was a symbol of freedom in the darkest periods of the European continent. In a time when the European countries were annexed by Hitler one by one, Poland was the first country to resist it, consequently encouraging the civilized world to stand resolutely against the evils of fascism and Nazism.

The Polish society helped end the Cold War. Solidarity marked the beginning of the end of the Warsaw Pact. In 1981 the famous Yugoslav rock band "AZRA" wrote the song "Poland in my heart" expressing the sympathy and solidarity of the Yugoslav youth with the authentic movement for freedom and justice.

The care that the Polish country provided sheltering the Refugee children from the Greek Civil War was also embraced by the Polish science by showing considerate interest in their mother tongue – Macedonian. It is no coincidence that precisely your prestigious university conferred an honorary doctorate degree to the academician Blazhe Koneski in 1973, 45 years ago, which represents the first such title ever awarded to a Macedonian in Poland (Sokołowski, 2001).

Moreover, we are only three days away from the day Blazhe Koneski passed on 25 years ago, in 1993. Therefore, I will start my address with the end of his life.

Shortly before his death, the exhausted Koneski called his colleague, the acclaimed Polish-Macedonian Slavist Zuzanna Topolińska and dictated his last published testimony to her (Koneski, 1993). In that very brief, but profound epistle to his and future generations, he addressed, for the last time, the issue that haunted him almost his entire life.

As a linguist and a writer committed to the development of the Macedonian literary language, he was aware that there are three things that were casting shadow over his life's work. First, the Macedonian language is spoken by barely two million people. Second, the full codification of the Macedonian literary language was only finished in 1945, after the Macedonian state was formed. Third, the Macedonian language was and it is still disputed.

Faced with these three facts, Koneski had the courage to publicly ask a very difficult question: What is the point to write, to create in such a small language?

This question meant re-examining his whole scientific and literary work, and overall, the meaning of his life.

Regardless how small it is, the Macedonian language has its own greatness.

It is the language that was geographically closest to the source of the first written Slavic language – the Old Slavic. We know that in 855, based on the spoken language of the Slavic tribes Sagudates, Drougoubitai, Belegezites and Rynchines inhabiting Macedonia, st. Constantine – Cyril and Methodius created a new alphabet – the Glagolitic. With the aid of the Glagolitic alphabet, they did not translate, but recast the Bible into Old Slavic. And, recasting is always much more difficult than translating. That shows the copiousness of the language and their ingenuity.

Using that written language, St. Cyril and Methodius and their disciples, among which St. Clement and Naum of Ohrid, banished the spiritual darkness and the fog of ignorance and they unlocked the immense spiritual, intellectual, cultural and creative potential of the Slavic peoples. Accordingly, in 1980, one of the great Slavic sons, Karol Wojtyła - the Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Egrigae Virtutis declared St. Cyril and Methodius co-patron saints of Europe.

Nevertheless, the Slavist Reginald De Bray writes: "By an irony of history the people whose ancestors gave to the Slavs their first literary language, were the last to have their modern language recognized as a separate Slavic language, distinct from the neighboring Serbian and Bulgarian" (De Bray, 1980).

Why is it so? Max Weinreich humorously noted that "a language is a dialect with an army". Throughout the long centuries of foreign political and spiritual governance, our language was systematically repressed and prohibited. During the 19 and the first half of the 20 century alone, hundreds of Slavic inscriptions were erased, thousands of Slavic manuscripts were destroyed, hundreds of thousands Macedonians were coercively renamed and their identities forcibly changed. That also includes Koneski's identity whose last name was once changed to Konevikj, then to Konev, depending on which neighboring country was ruling his fatherland Macedonia.
Faced with such conditions, in 1939 Koneski sets down the famous verses: "So much did woe cry out within me / that I was born into a tribe in need" i.e. into disenfranchised people.

However, that changes with the conclusion of World War II. Using their sovereign right to self-determination, the Macedonian people established the modern Macedonian state on 2 August, 1944. One of the first documents of the Macedonian republic is the resolution "to introduce the Macedonian language as an official language of the Macedonian state."

In order to implement the resolution, a Commission on Language and Orthography was set up. As one of its members, Koneski was aware that the language issue is one of the most important in resolving the Macedonian issue. Same as Krste Petkov Misirkov, he knew very well that the affirmation of the Macedonian literary language is a prerequisite to the completion of the Macedonian's national consolidation.

Therefore, he dedicated his whole life to a single goal. And that is to help his people develop and affirm their Macedonian literary language.

Koneski was one of the most active participants in the codification of the Macedonian standard language. He had a pivotal role in the production of the key documents for the Macedonian linguistics – the alphabet, orthography, grammar, vocabulary, historical phonology, language history (Vidoeski, 1986, 2013). As a linguist, poet and translator he drew the attention of the world linguistic and literary public to the Macedonian language. As one of the founders of the most important academic institutions and magazines, he contributed to the thriving of the Macedonian studies.

Through the efforts of Koneski and his generation the Macedonian language ascended to a modern European language with a bright future in very short time.

However, that kind of success woke the old Balkan phantoms of denial. The Macedonian language is still facing many deniers today, who in their attempt to erase or rename it they are conducting a type of symbolic oppression of the Macedonian identity.
Koneski, experienced these circumstances personally. I will provide an example.

In 1968, 50 years ago, Koneski became an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University of Chicago. However, the American Slavist and Macedonian specialist, Prof. Victor Friendman revealed that a real political drama surrounded that doctorate (Friedman, 2011).

Namely, back in 1964, the Polish-American Slavist and Head of the Department of Slavic Languages at the University of Chicago, Prof. Edward Stankiewicz proposed conferring an honorary doctorate to Koneski. The proposal quickly found its way to the agenda of the competent Committee on Honorary Degrees which was seriously considering the matter. Nonetheless, some of the Committee members were afraid from the Greek reaction. They believed that such an award can be considered as a hostile act by the Greeks, which were denying the existence of the Macedonian language, Macedonian identity and, in general, the Macedonian people. Therefore, the decision on the honorary doctorate was postponed until 1968. That may be the only recorded case of postponing a decision to confer an honorary doctorate at the University of Chicago, solely due to the great fear from a small language.

Although, the fear was partially justified, because just right after the ceremony the president of the University started receiving protest letters expressing dissatisfaction over the recognition of a "non-existent language" from a "non-existent people" (Friedman, 2011).
Precisely half a century has passed since that incident. However, that very same fear, unfortunately, is still present, and not just in America. If you search for the documents regarding our region on the official web-pages of the European Union institutions, you will notice something peculiar. Most of the documents are translated in the official languages of the countries in our region. Yet, only in our case, instead of Macedonian language, it says "the language of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". As far as I know, there is no such language in the Slavic studies.

In the official vocabulary of the Brussels' bureaucracy and diplomacy, the terms "Republic of Macedonia" and the adjective "Macedonian" do not exist. Instead, many Brussels' virtuosos of political correctness use the most beautiful epithets for my country and my people, with one purpose only - to avoid the terms Republic of Macedonia, Macedonian language, Macedonian people, Macedonian identity, and Macedonian culture. So, if you hear someone talking about a very beautiful European country and in the same time avoiding mentioning its name, the chances are that they are talking about the Republic of Macedonia.

This practice became so alarming that I sent a letter in 2011 to the President of the European Commission at that time, Barroso, where I stated that I will not accept a European Commission Progress Report on the Republic of Macedonia if that report does not contain the adjective "Macedonian". That practice is not in the spirit of "unity in diversity". Moreover, the European Union is not the only one. Several years ago, there was an attempt to erase the term "Macedonian language" from the official United Nations Multilingual Terminology Database. I had to send a letter to the Secretary General at that time, Ban Ki-Moon, in order to prevent such unprincipled intention.
What does all of this tell us? Those who deny the Macedonian identity and the Macedonian language perceive through a crooked mirror. Instead of adjusting their distorted image to the factual reality on the field, they are trying to adapt the reality to their crooked worldview. Worldview where it seems there is no place for the Macedonian language and identity.

Faced with these experiences, Blazhe Koneski exposed the logical fallacy of the deniers.

Double standards lie in the core of the problem. There are nations, Koneski says, whose rights to history are not disputed, and on the other hand, there are nations whose rights are disputed. The powers that do not make peace easily with the independent development of the peoples are prepared to utilize a whole scientific apparatus in order to protect their non-scientific and unprincipled positions (Koneski, 1968). Yet, a politicized science is not a true science. For that reason, on an occasion he says: "no matter the approach used to create the Macedonian literary language [...] they would still find a fault in it. Because from the depths of their souls they oppose the Macedonian language itself, not just some specific form of it" (Stojchevska-Antikj, 2017).

The people and the language are historical phenomena and as such they have a right to their own history. Therefore, refusing to acknowledge the historical right to linguistic independence of a certain people is equal to tyranny. The solution, Koneski says, is not in petty bargaining with those who tend to hold the key of the past of a certain people, and with it disputing its right to history, but in acknowledging the right to history to all peoples that mustered strength to shape a modern nation (Koneski, 1968).

Why do I speak of Koneski so much? Because his life reflects the life of the Macedonian people and the Republic of Macedonia.
That is exactly why he warned, that for us, the Macedonians, "more than to any other in the world, the language represents, with everything that was created using it, both spoken and written text, the closest we can get to an ideal fatherland, it is, actually, the only complete fatherland of ours" (Koneski, 1986).

The best indicator of the values of a certain nation is the consensus over the things that are not for sale, the things that cannot be bargained or negotiated with.

Today, unfortunately, some of the major gains he fought for are being put to question. Generations have come who seem to have forgotten the legacy of Koneski and started bargaining with those who tend to hold the key of our past.

While I am speaking here, the Republic of Macedonia is possibly facing the biggest challenge since its formation – to renounce the right to history and the right to self-determination.

The right to self-determination means that the nation has a right to decide its own fate, and that no one is authorized to forcibly intervene in its life, to destroy its schools and other institutions, to commit violence towards its customs and habits, to eradicate its language or to deny its rights. The right to self-determination means that the nation can regulate its life in accordance with its own will. It has a right to regulate its life autonomously. It has a right to a full secession (separation). The nations are sovereign and they are all equal.

From the right to self-determination emerges the right of the people to choose their own name and the name of the country they have established, as well as the name of the language they speak. The right to choose a name is an inseparable element of the right to self-determination.

Nevertheless, with the Prespa Agreement, Greece imposes us a new name and demands erga omnes application of that name – both for international and national use. A change of our Constitution is stipulated. Under this Agreement, Greece will gain constant supervision over how we name ourselves, but also how the other countries address us. The Agreement renames our institutions, censors the content of our children's textbooks, and prohibits the right of the citizens to express their own Macedonian identity. It regulates how we name our Macedonian language. A really important part of our way of life will depend on the will of Greece. It is a censorship on the world and a self-censorship on the collective consciousness of the Macedonian people. That is violence against our historical memory. The same thing the Greek state did to the Macedonians in Greece, now, under the Prespa Agreement, they want to do it to the Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia.

Modern history has shown that the Balkans is a birth place of precedents. If harmful precedents limiting our sovereignty and political independence are established, then it is a matter of time when those precedents will be used in other countries as well.
In contrast to the politicization of science by many European and world centers of power, we have the example of Poland, the Polish science, and the Polish Slavic studies.

I have already mentioned that Poland opened the doors for the Macedonian Refugee children from the Greek Civil War and became a second home to the homeless and shelter to the persecuted. Today, these people represent a firm bridge of friendship between the two countries and peoples. One of them, Kole Simitchiev, was even a professor at this University.

Our two countries established diplomatic relations 25 years ago. The first democratically elected president Tadeusz Mazowiecki defended the right of the Macedonian people and the Republic of Macedonia to self-determination and human dignity. The relations were strengthened in 2005 when the Republic of Poland decided to use the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia in bilateral communication. We are sincerely thankful for that decision made on principle.

The Republic of Poland is a great friend, a sincere partner and a vocal supporter of the Republic of Macedonia in the European Union and NATO.

Their support was put into practice during the European migrant crisis. The Republic of Poland was one of the few European Union member-states that correctly realized that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. On the European continent, that link is the Republic of Macedonia. My country persevered through the migrant wave influx thanks to the help we received, not from Brussels, but from the Visegrád Four and the countries alongside the Balkan migrant route.

While I am speaking here, there are Polish police officers patrolling the southern Macedonian border. They help the Macedonian Army and the Macedonian Police in safeguarding Europe from the threat that comes from European Union territory. That is a paradox – police officers from a European Union member-state are deployed on a territory of a country that is not a part of the EU in order to protect Europe from the threat that comes from the territory of an EU member-state – Greece. For that reason, as President of the Republic of Macedonia, I publicly express our gratitude to Poland and the other countries that help us safeguard Europe.

Besides the Polish country, we are grateful to the Polish science as well.

The Polish science has shown a lively interest in Macedonia and the Macedonian language. In a time when the neighboring propagandas were appropriating the Macedonian language, the renowned Polish Slavist Mieczysław Małecki unequivocally stated that the Macedonian dialects should not be treated as Serbian or Bulgarian, but as a separate language. Małecki systematically studied several archaic Macedonian dialects from the surroundings of Solun shortly before the Greek state wiped them out from its linguistic map. By doing so, not only did he confirm the theory of the origin of the Old Slavic language, but he also left a permanent testimony about the presence of the Macedonian language in that area (Vidoeski, 1977, 2013).

The great Mieczysław Małecki was one of the founders of the Macedonian studies in Poland. His work was carried on by the renowned Slavists Zbigniew Gołąb, Włodzimierz Pianka, Zdzisław Stieber, Krzysztof Wrocławski, Zuzanna Topolińska who is now the first lady of the world Slavic studies, then Mieczysław Karaś, Jan Sokołowski, Mira Solecka, Stanisław Karolak, Irena Sawicka, Iwona Łuczków, Anna Когуtowska and many, many others.

Through the Seminar on Macedonian Language, Literature and Culture, the Republic of Macedonia became a destination for hundreds of Polish linguists.

A circle of trust was built throughout the years where the Macedonian specialists from the Republic of Macedonia pose the most difficult questions for the Macedonian language without a shadow of doubt over the sincere intentions of their Polish counterparts. Part of that intellectual bouncing of ideas is the project "Grammatical Confrontation of the Polish and Macedonian language", led by the academicians Zuzanna Topolińska and the late Bozhidar Vidoeski. This joint project between the Institute of Polish Language of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Linguistics Department of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts is closing on four decades of existence. I am grateful to the Rector Jezierski who helped publish the last volume of this project. We have the professor Jan Sokołowski with us today who at the moment is running this project within the University of Wrocław.

As the Republic of Poland takes the side of justice, likewise Polish science resolutely stands on the side of truth. That is exactly why I feel free to convey the following to you: 25 years since the epistle of Koneski, still the Macedonian language is spoken by a small amount of people; some circles still consider it as young language and due to that they still dispute it. The same question is asked 25 years later: Is there a point to create and communicate in a small language?

I believe it is worth it for at least two reasons.

First, as an intergenerational code for communication, the language is a link between the ancestors and the descendants. The language, its semantics, the symbols and grammar are formed based on the perception that the peoples and the communities had of reality. It is worth it to speak and create in a small language that has a unique perception of the world because that makes the world richer. Our Europe is richer.

Second, the Macedonian language is lingua franca, and thanks to it a member from one ethnic community can understand the members of the other ethnic communities in the Republic of Macedonia. It is part of our social contract. Our strength is in our diversity, and our diversity is guaranteed by our unity. That unity is articulated through the Macedonian language.

Preserving and creating in Macedonian language is an obligation towards our past and an investment for our future. All of the Macedonian specialists, especially the Polish Macedonian specialists, are guardians of that language and that legacy. The Macedonian Studies Workshop by the Institute of Slavic Philology at the University of Wrocław, which is the most serious partner of the academic institutions in the Republic of Macedonia, takes an exceptionally important place (Topolińska, 2016).

Thus, in these times of serious challenges for the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian people, we need our friends again to safeguard what we can so easily lose ourselves. The Polish Macedonian specialists and the Macedonian specialists around the world are the guardians of our complete fatherland because, as Koneski said, "our fatherland reaches as far as our language does."

Thank you.


Address by the President Ivanov at the Climate Summit COP24
Monday, 03 December 2018 13:15

Esteemed excellences,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As President of the Republic of Macedonia, I have the honor to address you first at what is my last participation at the Conference of the parties.

In the past 10 years I have witnessed high expectations and soaring disappointments, great obstacles and even greater resolution of a handful of people, a global creative minority, that was determined to bring us, the policy and decision makers to Paris. To bring us just to find out that Paris was but a start line of a long race that will determine the fate of our humanity. With their contagious passion, they helped us see beyond the banal priorities of next elections into the essential needs of this and next generations.

We are no longer running a race to win, but to survive as human species. Racing with global warming, we have to train and learn as we run, because we are running out of time. We have to make profound changes in our lifestyle, production, consumption and development. We need to replace selfish consumerism with sharing philosophy. Without eternal morality, we will have ephemeral humanity. Only by changing the habits of our hearts will we start changing the heart of the unsustainable global energy system.


The Republic of Macedonia is continuously aligning its manner of reporting with the European Union standards. We are changing the way in which strategies, policies and laws are being drafted and revised with transparent and wide participation of all stakeholders. But even that is not enough. As I speak here, many of my fellow citizens are breathing in some of the most polluted air in Europe. The path is narrow, and we need to compact the ranks. We need to forge a circle of trust among politicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, activists, because we are not racing against each other, but together as a team. Energy, agriculture, transport and construction sectors have to take climate change into consideration. It is necessary for the health of the people, especially the most vulnerable categories. So, our permanent commitment must be green growth and development and lower carbon emissions. But that is possible only if we create green work places. Therefore, we support the Solidarity and Just Transition of Silesia Declaration that deals with prequalification of workforce.

We expect COP24 to place the general rules for monitoring the progress of countries' implementation of the Paris Agreement. The guidelines must be clear, comprehensive but also flexible enough for every country to make assessments and report on its advancement towards the global goal. The Republic of Macedonia belongs to one of the most vulnerable regions in the world in terms of climate change. Therefore, along the climate change mitigation rules, the decisions climate change adaptation of the most affected sectors. There must be a parity between mitigation and adaptation. This is especially important in the context of finance.

The Republic of Macedonia remains dedicated to these efforts. We need to run this race not to win, but to survive, not for ours, but for future generations.

Thank you.


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