Address by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, HE Dr. Gjorge Ivanov, on the occasion of August 2nd – Ilinden
Thursday, 02 August 2018 14:28   

ILINDEN_1Distinguished citizens of the Republic of Macedonia,

This year, on Ilinden, we are marking 115 years since the glorious Krushevo Republic, 74 years of the state-establishing ASNOM and 27 years of independence of the Republic of Macedonia.

The Republic of Macedonia is a product of an irreversible historical process that started in the spring of European peoples, in the first half of the 19th century. However, that spring was different for the Macedonian people. While neighboring Balkan peoples built their independent states through monarchies, Macedonian people chose the path of the republic. Unlike those who called for protection and representation by foreign dynasties, Macedonian people produced their own protectors, representatives and heroes who fought for the common good – the res publica.

Led by that ideal, on the day of Ilinden in 1903, right here in Krushevo, they established the first Macedonian Republic – the Krushevo Republic. It was at the same time the first democratic republic in the Balkans that relied on the ideals of freedom from tyranny, equality before the law and brotherhood of people in Macedonia.

Although short-lived, the Krushevo Republic was a ray of light in the long and dark Macedonian night. Although that light of freedom lasted for just one moment, people no longer wished to go back to the darkness of slavery and tyranny. The freedom of the Republic became its lasting driving force.

All the world media wrote about Ilinden and the famous Krushevo. The testimony of that dream quickly got noticed in the worlds' metropolises, from New York, Moscow, Tokyo, Vienna, Berlin, London, Paris, and even the countries of Latin America.

In 1924, reflecting on those fateful events, Dimo Hadzi Dimov foresaw that "a people that could raise an uprising such as Ilinden and survive a whole series of difficult and bitter disappointments after that, and is not desperate, but rises to fight again – that people will never die, but will live to see the triumph of its ideal. It is only necessary not to close their eyes to the conditions of their past development and the development of their struggle for liberation in future."

Only 20 years later, a young generation led by Kuzman Josifovski – Pitu recognized those conditions and took upon them a historic responsibility to lead the people in an organized and decisive fight for political freedom and social justice. And again, the idea leading that glorious generation was Macedonian republicanism. Theferore, coming out as victorious from the fight against fascism and Nazism in World War II, on Ilinden 1944, the Macedonian people established their second Macedonian Republic – the ASNOM Republic of Macedonia.

Faithful to the Republican ideal, on September 8, 1991, the Macedonian people proclaimed their third independent Republic of Macedonia. For the third time, the people took responsibility for their own present and future, not relying on anyone but themselves.

ILINDEN_3Dear fellow citizens,

In order to understand the historic responsibility of people towards their Republic, it is necessary to go back to the source, where water is the purest.

In 1919, Macedonian students in Sofia asked Gjorche Petrov to deliver a speech at the tomb of Goce Delchev. They had probably expected to hear the already well known narrative that Goce Delchev was the alpha and omega of revolutionary Macedonia. However, Gjorche told them something else. Goce believed that it was not strong individuals, but the organized power of people who should bear the burden of the fight on their shoulders. Delchev's generation installed in people the belief in their own power, because slavery ends only when a slave ceases to feel enslaved in their soul. Gjorce told them that the Macedonian struggle for freedom is a historical necessity that is not due to individual efforts only, but rather to the collective will of the people in Macedonia. He was convinced that "the idea of an independent Macedonia is a direct aim of its population" and of its Macedonian people.

This aim for an independent Macedonia first saw light on our first Ilinden, in the form of our first Republic – the Krushevo Republic, established in the name of justice, freedom and humane life of its citizens.

And that noble aim continued to develop through our second Ilinden, in our second, ASNOM Republic of Macedonia that became a symbol of freedom and an expression of sovereignty of the Macedonian people.

Finally, that aim was reached with our third Ilinden, when, on September 8, 1991, the sovereign will of the Macedonian people gave birth to the sovereign Macedonian state.

The thread that connects our three Macedonian republics is the sovereign will of the Macedonian people. That sovereign, general will of the Macedonian people has always been expressed in the shape of common good – the republic.

Dear fellow citizens,

The Macedonian people have always loved their republics – nostalgically reminiscing about the previous, and filled with hope, expecting the next one. This was because only in a Republic that belongs to them, that is an expression of their will and their aims, could the people feel at home.

And this should be of no surprise, because the highest aim of a people is to establish their own state. Only those peoples who have established their own states have realized their freedom in becoming self-sufficient.
However, the Macedonian people did not desire for just any state – they wanted the most fair, free and progressive one. They wanted their Republic, because it was their only protection against inhumane despotism, tyranny and autocracy. The Macedonian people considered the Republic to be the highest ideal of all freedom-loving peoples. A Republic that protects the common good; and the common good is the work of the people – hence the essence of the concept res publica, res populi.

The Republic belongs to the people because it both produces and benefits from sovereignty.
The Republic of Macedonia is not private property, with its attributes and values to be traded with by some.
The Republic of Macedonia is not personal property to be sold.
The Republic of Macedonia is not a no man's land that anyone can claim.
The Republic of Macedonia belongs to the people who have created it.

And that people, apart from having a historical right to their Republic, also has a historical responsibility towards that same Republic. For, no generation, including ours, can claim that with it begins everything. The nation, the state, the Republic, have been created and built by many generations. For some of them, it was an idea that warmed their soul, and others fought and were victorious in the realization of that idea. Others worked on its development and upgrade. All of those generations have been enshrined in our only homeland, the Republic of Macedonia.

What else could the Macedonian tradition be seen as, if not democracy stretched in time – a democracy that hears the voice of our ancestors as well - those from the Rebirth and those from Ilinden times; antifascists and ASNOM participants; founders of sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia.

And yet why, instead of just one, did we have three republics? Why did we lose our republics and then create them again? I believe that the reason behind it is a lesson that we failed to learn, and is repeating itself time and again.

In 1903, a decision was made to start the Ilinden uprising. Goce Delchev, Gjorche Petrov, Dimo Hadzi Dimov and other freedom loving revolutionaries were decisively opposed to the rushed decision for raising the uprising too early, stating that the people were not ready yet. However, instead of taking their advice, they were ignored and bypassed. A short while later, Krushevo was destroyed and the uprising was suffocated. What followed was a new, more difficult slavery and tyranny.

In 1945, immediately after the first session of ASNOM, there were attempts to make certain decisions about us, without us. Chento, Brashnarov, Chuchkov, Shatev, Polezhinovski, Vlahov and many other patriots were against the singlemindedness of the Communist party, because they firmly believed that we can make it on our own. And yet, instead of being heard, their voices were silenced.

In 1998, one of the previous governments of the Republic of Macedonia made a decision to recognize Taiwan, in spite of the opposition by the President of the Republic. In a situation when all mechanisms of the system were put aside, President Gligorov reminded that the laws of the Republic are written in order to be respected; that institutions were created in order to cooperate, but also to exercise mutual control and not allow for mistakes to happen. Through the rule of law, the Republic has established legal mechanisms to realize the very essence of its existence – and that is to take care of the common good of the citizens. However, instead of listening to his advice, Gligorov was ignored and bypassed. In the same way that today, 20 years later, this Government is trying to bypass me.

If the Taiwan recognition agreement was a result of the love of money, the settlement with Greece is a result of the love of fame. Blinded by the stage lights, it seems that some of our politicians care more about their personal fame than about the dignity and fate of an entire people.

If the Taiwan Agreement was an attempt to redefine the position of the Republic of Macedonia at the international level, the settlement with Greece redefines our state itself.

ILINDE_2Dear fellow citizens,

We discuss the rule of law, and at the same time, we see legal violence happening. "Violence – said Solzenitzin, cannot be covered but by lies, and lies cannot rely upon anything else but violence. When someone proclaims violence as their method, they must inevitably choose lies as their principle."

It is a lie that this Greek agreement will change only the name of our country. On the contrary, it will change the Macedonian state and institutional identity.

It is a lie that this Greek agreement does not violate the 74 years of right to self-determination and statehood of Macedonian people. On the contrary – this Greek agreement deletes the state and legal continuity of the ideal of the Macedonian people to have their own state. It also erases the 27 year long history of the independent Macedonian state.

It is a lie that this Greek agreement will guarantee our membership in the EU and NATO. Without real reforms, without fight against corruption, without suppressing party elitism and clientelism, there will be no membership in the EU and NATO. Even if the detrimental Greek agreement is accepted, even if the Macedonian Constitution is amended, EU and NATO membership will not follow by default. By accepting this agreement, we are cutting the branch we sit upon only because someone is trying to convince us that we will grow wings to fly in the meantime.

It is a lie that with this agreement, we would finally become an equal entity through being recognized by Greece. On the contrary – not only are our acquired rights in the United Nations degraded, but the settlement even puts the Republic of Macedonia in a subordinate and dependent position vis-à-vis the Hellenic Republic; Because with this agreement, Greece will acquire the right to interfere in the common good of our Republic.

Finally, it is a lie that this Greek agreement will strengthen Macedonian identity. On the contrary, this Greek agreement legally abolishes the Macedonian people.

There were many attempts by others to impose some foreign identity upon us, and they failed, because our existence has never depended on them, but on us.
Therefore now, they are convincing us to abolish ourselves. Now, they are trying to convince the Macedonian people to commit legal and historical suicide – because, the sovereign Macedonian Republic stems from the sovereign will of the Macedonian people.
Without the Macedonian people, the common good will become no one's good, susceptible to be taken away by anyone and everyone.
Without the Macedonian people, the Macedonian Republic will become no man's land.
Without Macedonian people, there will be no Macedonian Republic.

In return for this, we have been promised prosperity, but for the price of our identity. And I wonder what kind of prosperity that would be without identity, without the freedom to call ourselves by our own name?

The blame for such a situation cannot be put on our southern neighbor, or on our European and Euro-Atlantic partners; because neither the irrational paranoia of the first nor the cold pragmatism of the latter can change us.

Who is to blame then?

Knowing the nature of the seed, 115 years ago, Misirkov knew what the fruit would be. Almost prophetically, he warned us of this fatal Macedonian feature saying: "The events thus far have shown us how much harm we are able to do to ourselves, by thinking that we are doing the right thing."

This is also why the author of the last Macedonian Manifesto, the one that we heard moments before, gives a direct answer to the question of who is erasing our past in order to take away our future, by saying "Never try to look for the blame in others than ourselves."

Therefore, that lesson that keeps repeating because we never learn is the following: the biggest national disasters happened to Macedonia whenever the general will was bypassed and whenever national consensus was abandoned.

ILINDEN_5The Republic exists in order to protect the common good from anyone who might wish to acquire it as their own. The sense of Republican mechanisms is to prevent abuse of power for narrow personal and political party interests. Every time those narrow personal and political party interests take the place of the lasting interests of the Republic, things ended in a national disaster.

Dear fellow citizens,

The best indicator of the values of a nation is consensus about what is not on sale.

"Our name is great, they will wish to take it from us", warned Blaze Koneski. And with this detrimental Greek agreement, is it not that we are giving them our name voluntarily, ourselves? The question of name and identity is older than any Constitution, Government, political party or President. It is even older than the state. No individual from any generation has been given the right to trade with that name and identity.

Therefore I do not accept the Greek agreement that is detrimental to the Macedonian identity and goes against the interests of the Republic of Macedonia. I will not be shaken by various attempts for pressure. I remain consistent to my principled position thus far.

At the same time, I call for a stop to the abuse of the realization of our strategic goals and commitments. The European Union and NATO must not become an alibi for a bad agreement that will provoke far-reaching and harmful consequences on the state and national interests of the Republic of Macedonia.

Distinguished Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Vlachs, Bosniacs, Roma, Distinguished Christians, Muslims, Jews and Atheists,

One of the pillars of the Macedonian Republic is also the Macedonian language. The Republic of Macedonia enables every community to use its own language in all spheres and at all levels in accordance with the Constitution.

The Republic of Macedonia is the common homeland of all its citizens. We are proud to celebrate 68 years of Albanian and Turkish theater in the Republic of Macedonia. We have a rich series of publications in Albanian, Turkish, Serbian, Vlach, Roma and Bosnian language. Is there another Balkan country that can boast such a long tradition of mutual respect that many European countries can be envious of?

However, this unity in diversity is possible thanks to the Macedonian language and its irreplaceable role of an official language of the country; a fundamental communication code and cohesive factor that connect all segments of Macedonian multiethnic, multireligious and multilingual society.
The Macedonian language is a lingua franca thanks to which any member of an ethnic community can communicate with members of other ethnic communities. This is part of our social agreement. Our strength lies in our diversity, and our diversity is guaranteed with our unity. An authentic expression of that unity is our Macedonian language.

Dear fellow citizens,

So far we spoke about the benefits of the Republic. But what is left of all that? What would our Renaissance authors and revolutionaries say about the legacy they left to us?

Have you ever wondered what Karev would say about the situation in our Republic? Will we also change the name of the Makedonium where he was laid to rest?

What would Goce Delchev, Dame Gruev and Gjorche Petrov say about the ideal of the revolution? Were their efforts to restore the faith in our own strength in vain?

What would Dimo Hadzi Dimov say – the one who encouraged us to go towards new and glorious Ilindens that will upgrade Macedonian freedom, statehood and independence? Have we preserved those privileges?

What would Prlichev say – the one who left us the triple oath to know ourselves, respect ourselves and take care of ourselves by taking care of our fatherland?

Have you ever wondered what Misirkov would say – the one who raised Macedonian language as the fundamental feature of the Macedonian people and an irrefutable fact of our independence?

What would Koneski say? The one who concluded that "to us, more than to anyone else in the world, the language, together with everything created with it, both oral and written, represents the closest approximation to an ideal homeland. Macedonian language is actually our only complete homeland." What would he say about the "false prophets" who are destroying this ideal homeland of ours?

What would Racin say about the "dark dawns" looming?

What would Vapcarov say – the one who taught us how to self-consciously love our homeland, without protectorates?

What would Gane Todorovski say – the one who, in similar times, once asked "will we still be here when we are gone – if we are gone when we need to be here?"

What would Kuzman Josifovski – Pitu and the ASNOM participants say – those whose deeds and words we are now renouncing and whose Manifesto, as I heard, we will now censor?

What would Chento say – the first President of the second ASNOM Republic of Macedonia that he left to us to cherish like the apple of our eye?

What would Boris Trajkovski say, who right here, at this very place, on the 100th anniversary of Ilinden, emphasized that we cannot join Europe without identity and dignity?
And finally, what would Kiro Gligorov say – the one who reminded us that our independent Macedonian Republic is the most precious thing we have, because Macedonia is all we have?

ILINDEN_4This year, the world will celebrate 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Ilinden and ASNOM participants and all of us as citizens of our common home – Europe, we all fought for the rights stated in that Universal Declaration. As a constitutive part of the Yugoslav Federation, the Republic of Macedonia participated in the creation of that Universal Declaration. Will we today delete ourselves from the trends of world history?

Dear fellow citizens,

Today, in this new world, the Republic is not only here and now. The Republic reaches as far as the light of the Ilinden torch - from the Krushevo Republic, through ASNOM and up to our independent Republic of Macedonia. That republic lives in the hearts of every honest Macedonian man and woman, and every Macedonian citizen wherever they might be.

This is why Ilinden is the day that brings the light that clears the way, but also lightning that warns. It warns us that in order to live a life in light, sacrifice is necessary.

As the Ilinden fighters paved the way for the partizans with their self-sacrifice, and as the partizans opened the way for our generation in the Republic of Macedonia with their self-sacrifice – in the same way, our sacrifice might at one point be necessary in order for the spirit of the Republic to persist.

To be Macedonian is not only a right. It is also an obligation. It is an obligation to preserve the heritage that our ancestors fought for with defiance and resistance. It is an obligation to preserve the continuity of our determination, because as Macedonians we cannot be different than our ancestors. Let us not deprive our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of what our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers left us. We are reminded of this in our manifestoes as an expression of our general will and national consensus.

Today, that consensus is unambiguous. Macedonian citizens are united around the ides of membership of the Republic of Macedonia in the European Union and NATO. But we want to get there with our name, our identity, our dignity and honor. Therefore, no politician has a mandate to trade with the identity of the Macedonian people.

As President of the Republic of Macedonia, I am only the voice of the people. Your demands are my demands, your expectations are my expectations, your decisions are my decisions.

You have the legitimate right to take care of and safeguard your Republic. The future of your, of our Republic of Macedonia is built by you with every position you take regarding any issue related to the Republic.

History will judge about who has followed the path and respected the oath, never renouncing the light of Ilinden – a light that many tried to dim in order to prevent it from reaching future generations.

Great necessities produce great hopes. Today, more than ever before, the destiny of the independent Republic of Macedonia is in the hands of Macedonians themselves and their historic obligation. I believe that our people are mature and wise enough to choose their own destiny and defend their Republic. This because it is up to the citizens to take care of the Republic they created. They created it, and reached out for coexistence to their fellow citizens for all time, who, although speaking different languages and have different names, are still the sons and daughters of our one and common independent Republic of Macedonia – because Macedonian republicanism excludes any chauvinism.

Therefore let us love, respect and cherish our independent Republic of Macedonia, and it will protect us from the storms of the present. There is nothing worthier than that.

Long live Ilinden!
Long live our freedom, independence and sovereignty!
Long live the Republic of Macedonia!