Ivanov at the UN: Macedonia contributed toward European security during the migrant crisis

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Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday and focused mostly on the major refugee and migrant crisis where Macedonia is one of the key links of the Balkan route. In his remarks, President Ivanov also invited Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in what would be a landmark visit to Macedonia, and also expressed his support for the Macedonian candidate for UN Secretary General Srgjan Kerim.

“The first migrant wave erroded European institutions, mechanisms and policies. By preventing the illegal migration, the Republic of Macedonia was able to greatly contribute to the European security. Europe is now faced with a second, much gerater wave. More than 20 million migrants and refugees from Asia and Africa are at or near the external borders of the European continent. In the coming years and decades, millions of migarnts will attempt to reach it. The Republic of Macedonia is preventing illegal migration that comes from the territory of a European Union member state. EU must find out ways and mechanism to protect the borders, to secure the corridors and to integrate without assimilating those migrants and refugees it accepts”, said President Ivanov.

Speaking about the situation in which Macedonia was forced to handle large arrivals of migrants from Greece, which was unable to close its maritime border with Turkey, President Ivanov said that since its independence, Macedonia has faced constant and direct threats from countries and territories that are members of the EU, NATO and under UN management. The President was speaking about the Greek imposed name issue, as well as the 2001 conflict that spilled over from Kosovo. According to Ivanov, such “imported crises” have been a major contributor to the internal risks and difficulties which Macedonia has faced. Ivanov said that Macedonia is managing crrises on its own, but needs to see its EU integration path unblocked, to be able to better manage such situations.

“Our path toward international recognition and integration was paved with many roadblocks and we suffered serious damages along the way. The name issue has kept us blocked from joining international organizations such as NATO and EU to this day. For five years, Macedonia has been waiting to see the international community implement the verdict of the International Court of Justice”, President Ivanov said, adding that “I’m a Macedonian, my fellow citizens are Macedonians, and I speak to you from this podium in the Macedonian language. We ask that all respect us as Macedonians, that all respect our right to self-determination. Just as we respect everyone else’s right to self-determination and human dignity, we ask that it also applies to us. As Macedonians, we want to have the best possible relations with all our neighbors”, President Ivanov added.

In his remarks he invited Greek Prime Minister Tsipras to Macedonia, at the upcoming Brdo – Brioni regional summit that will be held in Macedonia in 2017.

President Ivanov also said that the next Secretary General of the United Nations should be elected from the Eastern European group of membrer states. Macedonia has its candidate, former UN General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, who Ivanov said would be a proper choice for the position. President Ivanov expressed his gratitude to outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for his tireless efforts to face numerous challenges and to reform the organization.