Interviews and Speeches

Address by MFA Nikola Dimitrov before the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia on the Agreement with Greece.


Nikola Dimitrov

Thank you,
distinguished Speaker,
distinguished Members of Parliament, representatives of the citizens,
distinguished citizens,
and distinguished public.

We live in historic days and I feel the duty and obligation to address the rationale of the five items of the letter by the President of the Republic of Macedonia to the Assembly, justifying the reasons for not signing the Decree for promulgation of the Law on Ratification of the Final Agreement with Greece.

The most comprehensive, item 1, states that ideas or proposals which threaten the Macedonian national identity, the distinctiveness of the Macedonian nation, Macedonian language and the Macedonian model of coexistence cannot be accepted. I assure you that neither I, nor any member nor the President of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, would accept such ideas. As we have emphasized on several occasions, the Final Agreement is the opposite of this. Not only does it not threaten the Macedonian national identity, the distinctiveness of the Macedonian nation, Macedonian language and the Macedonian model of coexistence, but it reaffirms and strengthens them as never before. In practice, the Agreement will further establish our identity and will overcome the current state of endless struggle with the disputed use of an inappropriate adjective for the language or the people. The Final Agreement will enable printing documents in the Macedonian language and translating them into Macedonian in the European Union and in other international organizations.

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Item 2 mentions and quotes the Constitution and I believe we need to be honest, we owe that to our citizens; in the same manner that the identity cannot be defended by compromising it, which actually happened during the process of antiquisation, the Constitution cannot be defended by violating it. The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia unambiguously states that the President exercises his rights and duties on the basis and within the framework of the Constitution and the laws – Article 79, paragraph 3. Furthermore, the President may decide not to sign the Decree for promulgation of the Law, in which case the Assembly reconsiders the Law and if it adopts the Law by a majority vote of the total number of representatives, the President is obliged to sign it – I repeat – is obliged to sign the Decree. This is a very unambiguous provision. Article 75, paragraph 3 of the Constitution: The President is held accountable for any violation of the Constitution and laws in exercising his rights and duties. 

Item 3 states that the Agreement goes beyond the scope of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 817 and 845 of 1993, because the resolutions refer to a difference regarding the name of the country, not differences, as it is stated in this Agreement. The argument that the Final Agreement is beyond the scope of resolutions 817 and 845 is superficial, both with regards the said resolutions and the Final Agreement, and therefore is a completely false argument. 

The Agreement follows with precision the text of the said resolutions and of the Interim Accord of 1995 and in that sense, wherever legal precision is required, in the sense of, I quote – the difference that has arisen over the name of the state (817 operative paragraph 2) it says “difference”, and wherever it could be referred to differences or remaining issues (Resolution 845 operative paragraph 2), it states “differences or issues”. There are many other documents such as letters, reports of the Secretary General to the Security Council on the negotiations between the two parties or letters of the President of the UN Security Council in which these “issues” are mentioned.

Furthermore, it says that the Agreement does not have a constitutional basis and is not ratified in compliance with the Constitution. The legal basis for conducting negotiations and the conclusion of the Final Agreement is determined by the previously mentioned Resolutions 817 and 845, and by Article 5 of the Interim Accord pursuant to which, I quote: “The Parties agree to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations pursuant to Security Council resolution 845 with a view to reaching agreement on the difference described in that resolution and in Security Council resolution 817.”

Sobranie 02

Furthermore, Article 23 of the Interim Accord states that the Accord shall remain in force until it is superseded by a definite agreement. Pursuant to the Constitution, Article 119 paragraph 2, and pursuant to Article 3 of the Law on Conclusion, Ratification and Enforcement of International Treaties, international treaties may also be concluded by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, when it is so determined by law. I have in front of me the Law on Conclusion, Ratification and Enforcement of International Treaties, and I will read Article 3: “International treaties on behalf of the Republic of Macedonia are concluded by the President of the Republic”. This is paragraph 1. 

Additionally, international treaties on behalf of the Republic of Macedonia may be concluded by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, when they regulate issues in the fields of economy –  contained in the Agreement – finances, science – contained in the Agreement – culture, education and sports – contained in the Agreement – transport, communications, urbanism, construction, environment protection – contained in the Agreement – agriculture, forestry, water economy, healthcare, energy –  contained in the Agreement – justice, labour and social policy, human rights, diplomatic and consular relations – contained in the Agreement – as well as defence and security of the country – contained in the Agreement. Futhermore, I think that the public should also know that according to the records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia, the Assembly has ratified 897 international treaties since our independence. Out of these 897 international treaties, 5 were concluded by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, that is 5 out of 879 were concluded by a President, and I will list them: 1995, Friendship Treaty with Turkey, signed by Gligorov and Demirel; 1998, a Declaration,  not even a treaty, signed by Gligorov and Yeltsin; 1999, Friendship Treaty between Macedonia and Ukraine signed by Gligorov and Kuchma; 2001, between the Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the demarcation and description of the state borderline, signed by Trajkovski and Koshtunica. And the last one, a Friendship Treaty between Macedonia and Romania, signed by Trajkovski and Iliescu. I think that it is time for us to listen and to properly interpret Article 3 of the Law on International Treaties and Article 119 of the Constitution, which clearly stipulate who is competent to conclude international treaties on behalf of the Republic of Macedonia. 

The final argument is along the lines of fearmongering, in a time when we need, above all, courage, responsibility and wisdom for all future generations of the Republic of Macedonia. It states, and I quote, that the Agreement brings the Republic of Macedonia in a position of subordination and dependence on another country, that is, the Republic of Greece, pursuant to article 308 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Macedonia which stipulates a citizen who will bring the Republic of Macedonia in a position of subordination or dependence on another state etc… . I am concluding (N.B. addressing the Speaker of the Assembly). This is a frightening manipulation which must be deconstructed (I’ll try to do it in 30 seconds). If “the dependence and the subordination” is the mere fact that Macedonia negotiated and achieved a Final Agreement, in accordance with the said legal basis, this is completely legally invalid, because Macedonia already undertook this obligation by becoming member of the United Nations and by signing the Interim Accord of 1995.

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Perhaps most importantly, which of these actions and which part of the Agreement threatens our independence, since it is the designation of the criminal act of “endangering the independence”? On the contrary, the Agreement, by opening the doors to NATO membership and the start of the EU path, reaffirms and completes our independence and our statehood, i.e. the Agreement hauls us out of that de facto dependence – because this is a dispute between a country which is not a member, Macedonia, and a member state, Greece, and gives us complete independence. 

It is time for us to look after the interests of our homeland. We all have personal interests, some of us have party interests, but we all must unite around state and homeland interests. It is not possible for the European Council (in a highly complex situation in the EU) to find it important to devote an entire paragraph in the conclusions (from the meeting in Brussels on 28 and 29 June), and to emphasize that Europe is proud of the Agreement between Macedonia and Greece and of the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria, and on the other hand, we, aiming towards EU and NATO, to oppose this process. 

It is time for us to grow up, these are serious times; our children are watching us, as well as our grandfathers and grandmothers.

Thank you.