Distinguished media representatives, distinguished citizens,

It is my honour to close the cycle of press-conferences regarding the first few months of the mandate of this Government in view of the numerous activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is quite evident that the new leadership at the MFA and the policy it leads has achieved a turning point in Macedonian foreign policy. We don’t want a policy which, in the words of Füle, leads to a dead end; we don’t want an EC report deeming Macedonia to be a captured state, an internationally isolated, friendless, self-doubting and scared state suffering from numerous complexes. Our policy is quite the opposite - we strengthen or renew friendships and establish new ones. We are restoring the image of Macedonia as a country that will work on improving itself. We want Macedonia to be a modern state which will draw attention with good news, a country with an image and the essence of a European democracy, a country that’s an attractive place to live and work – a country of happy citizens.

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    • We undertake intensive diplomatic activities aimed towards strengthening our European and Euro-Atlantic perspectives while also improving the shattered position of the Republic of Macedonia on the international scene.
    • We invest proactive and productive diplomatic efforts towards realising the foreign policy priorities, above all, EU and NATO membership, establishing and fostering good-neighbourly relations and regional cooperation. Over the preceding period, we have conducted a large number of visits and attended official and unofficial meetings. A total of 31 international visits were paid, 17 bilateral and 14 multilateral. I had the honour of meeting 44 of my counterparts, foreign ministers, covering most of the NATO member states and almost all of the EU member states. From a country associated with crisis, Macedonia has become a country associated with hope and opportunities.
    • We are working to restore the international rating of the Republic of Macedonia which primarily requires the support and renewal of old friendships and the establishment of new ones. Much of the credit in this regard goes to the citizens of RM whose civil vigilance and activism has basically demonstrated that Macedonian democracy is stronger and reacts even when the institutions of the system don’t. That was the situation we were faced with during the crisis. Because of this, Macedonia’s narrative is now one of hope. In times when democracies are facing problems all over the world, Macedonia is diligently working on strengthening its democracy to prevent open and obvious abuses of power as those we have heard about. This narrative has encouraged some of the most established democracies in Europe and the world to stand behind our reform efforts and thanks to that narrative we have signed declarations or political statements on partnership and cooperation with Sweden, Norway, the UK and last week, with the Netherlands.
    • At the same time we work diligently towards revitalising Macedonia’s status as an active player and responsible partner in international relations, as a factor of stability in the region and beyond. This was confirmed with the full and productive agenda and the proactive participation in UNGA 72. Our strategic goals were openly discussed in New York, as well as our participation and contribution towards resolving the burning issues and challenges at a global level. Visibility and active contribution at a multilateral level is one of our priorities.
    • We have established a new image, a recognisable foreign policy whose goal is to build bridges, open doors and solve problems.
    • Within a short period of time we have managed to renew the dialogue with the EU and to introduce new energy and quality into our relations. The path was veiled and could hardly be seen, but today, that path towards opening EU accession negotiations, is clearing up before us. We have established partnership and principled relations with Brussels and we expect a clear and unconditional recommendation for opening accession talks. While we wait we continue to work domestically and provide additional argument for the EC. Regarding our foreign policy, we practice genuine and open relations, without prejudice and hidden agendas. Our new approach reflects the aspiration to build an image of a modern European democracy.
    • We have also imposed a new attitude towards domestic institutions. The MFA no longer has exclusive competence in foreign policy. This approach is characterised by transparency, accountability and inclusiveness. On the 34th day since assuming office I briefed the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia about the implemented activities and discussed foreign policy priorities and challenges with the MPs. On 11 October, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia voiced its confidence and support for my engagement and dismissed the interpellation motion regarding my work submitted by a group of MPs on 9 August of this year.
    • Our approach towards the public will also be transparent and accountable. In this line, two weeks after assuming office, on 15 June, I adopted a decision through which the documents related to the official trips taken by employees of the Ministry once again become public information. The decision is a product of the dedicated commitment of the Ministry for full transparency and accountability to the citizens of RM.
    • Several visits at various levels took place to Brussels. In doing so, we reaffirmed our European perspective and underlined the need for a result-based reform process (3-6-9 Plan). After a two-year break, on 18 July, we held the 13th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council between the Republic of Macedonia and the EU. The fact that the council was presided by the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, speaks of the importance placed by the EU on this recurring or new beginning. The messages sent there were clear and unequivocal. The EU acknowledges the new beginning in RM and its unyielding efforts in realising the reform priorities. This was also noted at several talks held with the head of European diplomacy, F. Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn, the last of which happened last Tuesday in Brussels.
    • Our diplomatic efforts are also visible in respect to NATO integration. We met with NATO GS J. Stoltenberg, who voiced support for the realisation of our strategic determination to become members of the Alliance. NATO regards the Republic of Macedonia as an “important partner” in the realisation of its mission. Last week, along with DPM and MoD Radmila Sekerinska we attended the meeting of the North-Atlantic Council with the Republic of Macedonia (29+1), which completed the 17th cycle of our accession to NATO and in the words spoken immediately after the meeting by one of the high officials of the NATO international secretariat in Brussels, “this was literally a reset of relations between RM and NATO.” After a long time, Macedonia was talked about in positive tones; it was mentioned in relation to opportunities, and this was done practically in unison by all members of the Alliance who took the floor or around 21 out of 29 member states within the allotted time.
    • At the special meeting of the Podgorica Summit hosted by our friends from Montenegro but chaired by Prime Minister Zaev (Adriatic Charter – 2 August of this year), Mr. Zaev met briefly with the U.S. Vice President, M. Pence and strongly and resolutely pointed out that “the US, as our strategic partner, stands behind the Republic of Macedonia and the region in our determination for NATO integration.”
    • Our partners, the EU and the US, welcomed our efforts to solve the open issues with our neighbours. In this context, main emphasis was placed on talks with Bulgaria as an example and a model of cooperation in the region, as well as beyond, without mediation and imposed solutions. The U.S. Department of State noted that the treaty between the two countries is an “encouraging example of how differences between neighbours can be solved peacefully.” In Brussels, as I have noted several times, the treaty is seen as an inspiration for the entire Balkans. If you allow me to make one or two remarks as a citizen, speaking quietly openly, the easiest thing for a Foreign Minister to do is to avoid tackling difficult issues. It would be quite easy for me to stay away from and to avoid tackling issues that have been swept under the rug for a long period of time and that have been cemented with a policy aimed at blocking instead of unblocking. This foreign policy is based on the question of where and what kind of Macedonia we want to have 3 years from now, 5 years from now or 10 years from now. This foreign policy is not founded on the question of how to gain political points today and how to use them in a week or a month. The foreign policy of RM will not be used to gain political points throughout the mandate of this Government and my mandate as the Foreign Minister.
    • We implement a policy of an open and positive approach, directed towards solving problems and open issues, instead of prolonging them or creating new ones. The foundation of our policy lies in our resolute determination to qualitatively promote our cooperation with neighbouring countries and the entire region on the path towards our mutual European future.
    • This new spirit of open and genuine dialogue with countries of our immediate and wider surroundings, the SEE region and the European family, was clearly reflected in the signing of the Treaty with the friendly country of Bulgaria. The treaty is an expansion of the 1999 Joint Declaration, and confirms the readiness of both countries to acknowledge and accept the realities of the past as well as the present, and most of all, the resoluteness of the two countries to secure a brighter, prosperous and friendly future for their citizens.
    • The signing of the treaty strengthens the interests of the Republic of Macedonia and this important issue is closed in line with and in favour of the national interests of our country and its citizens, while opening the path towards our integration into the EU and NATO. To put it shortly, the treaty is a mutual success of two close and friendly countries, achieved through mutual compromise and leadership, and based on the need to build bridges, open up perspectives and create opportunities.
    • Another proof of the new constructive approach in the foreign policy of RM based on European and Euro-Atlantic values is the first bilateral visit made to Athens, and several meetings held thereafter – one in Skopje and the last one in New York on the margins of UNGA 72. FM Kotzias and I underlined that our efforts to open up perspectives for both countries will not cease. I will also not give up trying to convince Greece that there can be no winners or losers regarding this issue since we are neighbours. You cannot be successful if you crush your neighbour or vice versa. That is why we are trying to completely change the prism through which we look at this issue.
    • Recently we marked 100 days, but today I believe is the 124 day since the formation of the new Government and we have honourably celebrated the 26th birthday of independent Republic of Macedonia as a country before which European perspectives are truly being opened.
    • The congratulatory words on 8 September extended by U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and the statement of the Federal FM of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel on 6 September, illustrate, in the best possible way, the value placed on the commitment to reforms of the new Government and the right course set by our foreign policy. Tillerson applauded the actions implemented by the new Government in demonstrating its dedication to democracy, the rule of law and regional cooperation. FM Gabriel went a step further and aside from applauding the reform course and providing strong support for the country’s EU and NATO integration, he also urged the current opposition to refrain from blocking the positive momentum of the new Government and to remain open to constructive cooperation.
    • In the next year and a half, the region has an opportunity to make genuine and visible progress in terms of its European integration. A period of opportunities and perspectives is ahead of us. The Government of RM is firmly determined to do everything it can to benefit from and to use this opportunity the best it can. Macedonia must hop aboard the train with all those from our region who are ahead of us. The Government is determined to continue on the path towards restoring the country’s dignity, reputation and its international friends and towards achieving our strategic priorities – EU and NATO integration.

 

Thank you.