I’d also like to offer my special appreciation to
Ambassador Zbogar for your extraordinary efforts to promote
the “EU for you” initiative. …and I’d also like to
recognize the esteemed Bulgarian Ambassador Petkov, for
working so hard to raise the Western Balkans high
on the EU agenda…. exactly where it belongs.
We honestly feel that this day, Europe Day, is a
meaningful day for us here — because we too are a part of Europe. And after
much hard work, I believe we are finally ready to deepen that relationship.
If we consider our shared history, our shared
geography, and most importantly.. our shared values, and common strategic
interests, in political and economical terms, the conclusion is simple:
We are already an important part of Europe…
But at the same time we need to admit that to
become part of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations, we need
to continue down the path of growth and commitment to democratic values. And we
are absolutely committed to that path.
We must maintain and deepen the hard-fought reforms
we have started, with the aim to build a modern and functional democracy.
We must also continue our work to create
sustainable and professional institutions, a prosperous economy and an inclusive
One that values equal opportunity for all,
regardless of the nationality, ethnicity or religion of those we serve.
When we achieve these goal I am confident - with
your continued support - we will become a proud member of the European Union.
After all… A Europe that is truly united will be a
stronger and more prosperous Europe, especially in the face of the new and
unprecedented challenges to our shared values - which are all facing from
I believe the majority of people in our country
understand this truth. In fact, between 70-80% of the population favours both
EU and NATO membership.
And this government is prepared to successfully
overcome any and all challenges or obstacles that stand in our way.
Without question, the political crisis that we have
encountered over the last years threatened to turn our country in the wrong
direction, toward isolation and autocracy.
However because of my brave fellow citizens
who who remained united and firm in demanding a return to European values
for our country, as well as our political leaders who stood up or
listened to the will of those people… and for our shared democratic values, our
country is now back on track to joining the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.
And we are making significant progress.
And all of this is in no small part due to the
incredible support and encouragement we have continually received from the EU
and United States and everyone in the room today.
As a result, we have a lot of expectation, hope and
goodwill toward the west in our country at this moment.
Because we always knew. And we know where we
And in my view, the crisis which we struggled so
greatly to overcome - and the progress we have made since- is clear evidence
that keeping this country in the proverbial waiting room of inclusion into NATO
and the EU for too long risks creating a lack of democratic oxygen for the
people. Together, we have been crying out for the fresh air of democracy. And
we cannot afford to turn back.
Therefore we must ALL do everything possible to
ensure this never happens again. And we can only find that security as a member
of NATO and the European Union.
To that end, the New Government, when taking over
responsibility last summer, drew a clear line in what direction the reforms
will go, and that is toward the creation of a truly European state…one that
people want to live in, and will return to.
Our citizens want, and are committed to, creating a
stable state with democratic institutions which will ensure a life without fear
They want elections in which votes will be cast
freely, without pressure and without violence.
They want an economic environment where competitive
ability, and not political affiliation, will be valued.
They want a state that has friendly relations with
all its neighbours and a Government that will solve open issues - openly - and
not to escalate them and encourage historical animosities.
These were the guidelines for our reforms and Plan
3-6-9 was a tool to lay the ground for these reforms.
We focused on,
first: URPs and key reforms implementation in
judiciary, public administration, security services, media and
second: resolving internal (OFA) and open issues
with our neighbours (Bulgaria and Greece).
We have already had very important achievements in
this regard, with the signing of the Agreement on good neighbourly relations
with Bulgaria (ratified in both Macedonian and Bulgarian parliaments), thus
removing the obstacles and closing a long lasting and serious issue.
In relation to Greece, progress is visible. And I
believe success is finally within reach
We now have frequent high level official meetings
between Skopje and Athens and re-energized UN mediated negotiations. Similarly,
the implementation of the CBM - Confidence Building Measures, have already
resulted in increased confidence not only among politicians, but among people
in all aspects of our society.
With Greece, we are on the doorstep of a major
political and historic moment of reconciliation.
And we need brave decisions now - on both sides -
to ensure a brighter future for the people from both countries and for the
wider Balkan region as well…and no less for Europe itself.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Looking back at the year we left behind, this year,
you will agree, we have a special reasons to celebrate because of what we have
achieved so far .
2018, has become a year of unique and exciting
In only one year we have succeeded in returning the
country on the right and irreversible path towards Euro-Atlantic
This reform government is seeking to boldly address
the challenges at hand, and is managing to make great strides in transforming a
once “captured” state into an inclusive, transparent and European one.
We have already succeeded to "unfreeze" relations
with our international strategic partners and supporters, endeavored to "free"
our institutions, administration and indeed our whole society.
And believe me… the work continues.
President Tusk during his visit stated that “in
just one year the we has impressed with its reform processes and is writing a
completely new chapter in its history and in the relations with the EU” and HR
Mogerinni said “it’s like I am coming to a completely different state”.
I agree with Mr. Tusk’s statement and would add
that as mush as we have achieved in this short time, we recognize there is much
work still to be done and are fully aware that it won’t be easy, and will take
But such is the nature of democracy, as we all
It’s very often that I am asked to give arguments
why we should be part of the EU and should start accession negotiations.
In my speech I hope I have given some arguments,
but let me summarize few more to have when you will be deciding in your
capitals in the following weeks about the future relations of the EU with my
country. Please take into consideration that:
• is the only country in the region that has fully
solved all geographical border disputes,
• is a fully functional multiethnic and
multi-confessional democratic society,
• is the missing peace in the EU mosaic that can
bring to the EU new breath of cohesive spirit, and can serve as positive
example for the whole Western Balkan Region,
• is ready to act fully in line with the CFSP
positions and to be part of the new EU Defense structures,
• Is doing everything it can to upgrade its good
neighborly relations to the level of the EU standards and requirements,
• and is ready in political terms and in terms of
institutional capacities, to start accession negotiations.
Further on, as arguments for the decision, dear
Excellencies, in case we do not start accession negotiations, the risks are
many but let me highlight few:
• loss of hope for EU and NATO membership will
provoke young educated people to continue leaving the country reducing the
workforce and potential for development and growth,
• loss of hope can also produce strong EU fatigue
and EU skepticism,
• will rise anti NATO feelings,
• population division by ethnic, religious and
social lines will deepen, resulting in vulnerability of the democratic
institutions and its capacity to govern,
• will downsize the level of resistance and will
create fertile ground for THIRD COUNTRIES interference and increased influence,
• will leave space for penetration of potential
violent groups thus raising risks from terrorism, extremism and
Therefore, we cannot afford to miss this historic
It must be used as a basis on which we will build
an even broader internal consensus for all the challenges on this path, and we
will not allow ourselves to miss the opportunity to provide future generations
a secure, stable and prosperous perspective.
I talked about about 2018 being a pivotal year. The
positive mood set during last year around the future of the Western Balkans
countries as potential members of the European Union has one added to that
excitement…. not to mention the powerful statements of Chancellor Markel and the
successful Berlin process and Trieste meeting, the Sorbonne speech by President
Macron, the SOEU speech by PEC Junker and PM Borisov’s persistent push of the
Western Balkans on the EU agenda.
I could go on and on.
I am looking forward to the historic Summit in
Sofia next week, the first European Union enlargement summit after Thessaloniki
in 2003, where we expect the European perspective of the Western Balkans
countries to be reiterated with the Declaration and its Annex-Sofia (positive)
Sofia will certainly bring even more energy and
incentives for Western Balkan connectivity, stability, security and economic
prosperity, thus paving its European future, including concrete political and
At the June Council meeting, our expectation is to
officially hear a date to start accession negotiations, verified by the
Bulgaria has successfully paved the way forward for
the Western Balkans and laid the ground for further enlargement, and our strong
expectations are that Austria, Romania, Finland and Croatia consecutively, as
future EU presidencies, will follow that path.
I consider upcoming London Summit also an important
step to keep Western Balkans and right topics on the agenda.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The process of EU integration is long-lasting,
generational project that cannot be tied to one Government or political party,
but belongs to the whole society, to every single person.
It’s a historical choice that will not come as a
gift, but only as award for the hard work and investments. In democracies, as
we are, the people are lead by elected Parliaments and Governments.
It’s on the Government to lead, to take decisions
and to set the tempo of the reforms.
The success or failure of one Government in this
process will measure how successful it was during its time