Session of the
22 Oct. 1998
by the President of the Government of the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1), Branko Crvenkovski
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honor and privilege to address you today, again within the Intensified Individual Dialogue between the Republic of Macedonia and NATO. My special pleasure is the fact that the subject of our today's exchange of opinions is the Strategy for the integration of my country in NATO, which, I believe has through our mission already been circulated to you. My assessment is that our today's dialogue is of extreme importance for the furthering of our relations, as well as for the Republic of Macedonia's fulfilment of the requirements for NATO membership.
The Strategy for Integration of the Republic of Macedonia in NATO, is a document by which, on the one hand, we wished to make a review of all that has been achieved since our getting independence, of the efforts invested to realise our key commitment to membership in NATO, and on the other hand, to designate the best way to achieve this strategic objective of high priority for us.
Together with this document, which essentially deals with the foreign-policy dimension of our getting closer to NATO, for the purpose of finalising this process in both the military and security field, we prepared and recently published two more important documents - The Defense Strategy of the Republic of Macedonia and The White Paper of the Defense of the Republic of Macedonia. These three documents, according to our firm conviction, trace the way toward further enhancement of our relation with, and full integration of the Republic of Macedonia in, NATO.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Macedonia is a part of Europe, in the civilizational, economic and political sense. Regretfully, though, over a long period of its history, it could not decide upon its destiny by itself. It capacitated itself for this only after getting independence, which it achieved peacefully, thanks to the advice drawn from its tragic historical experiences, as well as to its wisdom and constructiveness.
Though located in a region, which due to its turbulence has often times in history, but also today, posed a pitfall to European peace and stability, Macedonia has, thus far, with its domestic and foreign policy, proven that it does belong to the family of democratic European countries. The elections now underway, the first round of which was held within a most democratic atmosphere, and the successful avoidance of involvement in the Kosovo crisis, pose a confirmation of our constructive policy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to point out briefly to the factors that have contributed to the Republic of Macedonia's characterisations as a stable and progressive country in the economic, political and security fields.
The Republic of Macedonia is today a country in which the process of privatisation has reached its final stage: over 80% of the industrial companies have already been privatised, and the private companies now account for over 76% of the GDP. According to the last Report of the World Bank, the Republic of Macedonia, among the countries in transition, shares the first place with Estonia, by the level of achieved macroeconomic stability, while, also, it has been ranked rather high by the other parameters defining the success in the realisation of the economic reforms. This status is due to permanent maintenance of a stable exchange rate of our currency; to the intensification of the trend of growth of the GDP, commenced in 1996, which over a range of years until then had been dropping by some 15% per year. This progress has also been illustrated by the increase of 8% of the industrial production over the first several months of 1998. The inflation rate, which at the beginning of the 90-ies used to reach even four digit figures, has over the last several years been kept at a rate of less than 5%, while over the first 8 moths of the current year at a rate of only 1.7%.
The Republic of Macedonia has over the past years realised several successful and well-assessed complex arrangements with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and has regularly paid off its dues toward the foreign creditors.
The confidence and credibility, thus gained, have opened the process of intensive foreign investments in the Macedonian economy. The economic reforms already conducted, for which over the past years we had to pay a high social cost, together with a number of stimulative measures, have for the first time caused a turnaround in the trend of increasing unemployment. Namely, since the beginning of the year more than 56,000 new jobs were created and we expect that this trend will continue till the end of the current and over the coming years.
On the political plan, certainly, the event that is currently in the focus of attention of the domestic public are the third parliamentary elections, the first round of which was held last Sunday. I would like to underline that these elections are being organised according to the newly adopted package of electoral laws, most highly assessed by the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and held within a democratic, correct and fair atmosphere. We have no reasons, whatsoever, not to believe that the second round will also transpire within such atmosphere, while elections would not be elections if the outcome is certain.
Regarding the foreign policy, though within one of the most sensitive regions of Europe, the Republic of Macedonia has developed very good relations with its neighbours, promoted the spirit of openness, transparency, and created a climate of mutual trust while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states. Though open issues do exist, we make efforts to resolve them by way of dialogue and mutual understanding, but this does not always depend solely on our will. Over the past period we have in this regard achieved significant improvement of our relations with the Hellenic Republic, which has within a very short period of time become our second trade partner, and first foreign investor, and with the Republic of Albania with which since the end of last year we have concluded over 15 bilateral agreements, thus far fully operationalised.
However, unfortunately, we are still faced with serious problems that threaten the peace and stability of the region, and of whole of Europe, for that matter. As an immediate neighbour of the FR of Yugoslavia, we are very much interested in the peaceful settlement of the Kosovo crisis and we make our own contribution to the overall efforts of the international community in reaching a solution. We see that solution within the framework of the internationally recognised borders of the FRY and as a solution that would be mutually acceptable for both the sides. The opening of the process for reaching such a solution will to a large degree depend on the settling of the situation in neighbouring Albania, as well as upon the democratisation of the Yugoslav State.
The Macedonian Government has recently made a concrete support to the realisation of the peace plan for Kosovo, to the implementation of the UN Resolution 1199, the Agreement between Milosevic and Holbrooke and the Agreement between the Yugoslav military authorities and NATO. The Macedonian Government salutes and supports the efforts that NATO is investing in reaching a solution to the crisis peacefully, and has in
that sense favourably responded to NATO's request to station part of the unarmed and pilotless aircraft on its territory, as well as personnel to handle them, convinced that this way it would contribute to putting an end to the conflicts and to opening the process of political settlement of the crisis. Our support for the holding of the NATO exercise "Determined Falcon", in June of this year, has been another confirmation of this policy of ours.
Making its best so that the spirit of partnership and cooperation would start to prevail even in this part of Europe, the Republic of Macedonia has actively participated, often times as an initiator and host to activities and programs of various regional initiatives in southeastern Europe. In this context, a Meeting of the Defense Ministers of the south-east European countries that are members of NATO and the Partnership for Peace was recently held in Skopje, at which a historical agreement for this region was signed, the depository for which is the Republic of Macedonia, concerning the creation of a Multinational peace force of south-eastern Europe, earmarked for participation in peace operations of the international community. These achievements, I think, have qualitatively changed the relations among the countries of the south-eastern Europe, and created conditions for overcoming the historical legacies, as well as for transforming the region into a region of peace, stability, security and cooperation.
According to its commitment to a more rapid integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures, the Republic of Macedonia focuses its attention to the development of its relations with the European Union and NATO. In regards to its relations with the European Union, we are successfully exploiting all the possibilities offered by the Cooperation Agreement that came into force at the beginning of the current year. Considering the results so far achieved in its implementation, we expect that in the nearest future we shall commence negotiations for enhancing our relations at the level of an associated member through the signing of the Europe Agreement.
In regards to NATO, the Republic of Macedonia has continued to most actively participate in the activities of the EAPC and the Enhanced Partnership for Peace, and, at the same time, on the domestic plan, to invest further efforts for the adoption and incorporation of the standards of NATO in our defence.
Relying upon the principle of democratic control over the military, incorporated in the Macedonian Constitution and in the Law on the Defense, and in accordance with the projection of a standardised, small in numbers but technically and organisationally highly qualified and equipped Army, among other things, we have achieved considerable level of interoperability of our armed forces with those of NATO. The projection of the security requirements of the Republic of Macedonia, which is in line with our economic capacity and with the further measures aiming at full integration in NATO, for the purpose of transparency in the field of defence, is contained in the aforementioned Defense Strategy and White Paper.
On this occasion I would like to express our gratitude to the United States, Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, and the other member states for the support and assistance extended to the Republic of Macedonia within the Clearing House process and bilaterally in achieving these goals.
Allow me to underscore that in this context we highly appreciate the past intensive cooperation within NATO/PfP, which has enabled the partner countries to demonstrate their preparedness for full membership in NATO. Within this framework, the Republic of Macedonia got involved in an imposing number of activities on both political and military plan, and on some occasions as a host. In this regard I would like to emphasise the extreme importance of the recently held military exercise "Best Co-operative Effort -98" conducted in the Republic of Macedonia on the Krivolak training field, as well as the confidence shown to us by making us host next year to the exercise "Co-operative Dragon 99".
Starting from the aforementioned, I would like to underscore the following views about what would NATO membership mean to Macedonia:
The membership in NATO, for the Republic of Macedonia is of historical, political, military, and economic importance, above all for the:
- achievement of a higher level of national stability and security;
- belonging into the only vital, stable, efficient and prospective collective security system - NATO;
- strengthening of the country's capability to deal with the challenges and security risks of the modern time;
- active participation in the settlement of the security issues, on the basis of the principles of common planning, decision making and crisis management;
- acceleration of the development of the defense system of the Republic of Macedonia in accordance with the NATO standards;
- strengthening of the economic ties and relations and cooperation in the field of scientific and technological development;
- further development of the institutions of the democratic society.
But, what would NATO gain by the membership of the Republic of Macedonia?
First of all, it would gain a stable and democratic country that is a factor and generator of stability and security in southeastern Europe. A country of very special geo-strategic importance, considering its central position in the Southern Balkans, situated on the crossroad of the renowned Via Egnatia and Via Militaria, that have connected the East with the West and the South with the North, ever since ancient times.
Considering this, NATO, whose area today is more or less limited to the seacoast of its Southern flank, could expand this area by almost 300 km deep into strategically important ground.
The already commenced construction of Corridor 8 and the modernisation and development of Corridor 10 will establish a solid infrastructure link for the Southern flank, located in the Republic of Macedonia.
Therefore, we believe that the future NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia will contribute to better efficiency of NATO in providing for the security in south-eastern Europe, and thus the security of the whole of Europe, and that it will also accelerate the development of the regional cooperation and the good neighbourly relations among the countries of this region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To close, I would like to underline that the Republic of Macedonia, which has saluted the process of "open door" commenced at the Madrid summit, and which hopes that this same process will be given a new impetus at the upcoming Washington summit, has advanced a good deal in the fulfilment of the preconditions for membership and is prepared to undertake all the responsibilities deriving from that NATO membership.
My country expects that it will be among the first future countries to be invited to join the Alliance and, in accordance with its Strategy for integration in NATO, will continue to work in that direction.
Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name