Pendarovski for “Politika”: The Macedonian identity cannot be negotiated

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Macedonian identity and language are not, nor could they be, the subject of any negotiations. Our identity and the Macedonian language are a result of cultural and scientific fact, a result of many years of historical and cultural development. In fact, the process of development of our identity and language is no different from the development of languages and cultures of neighboring nations, said President Stevo Pendarovski in an interview with Belgrade “Politika” published today.

– Northern Macedonia, compared to it’s neighbors, completes it’s statehood at the latest through a complex process of struggle for national liberation and emancipation and probably that factor has a great impact on certain negative tendencies among some of the public and politicians in neighboring countries. However, our statehood and our standard language are a complete process and that fact should be accepted by all, as a key step towards building cooperation, given that all neighboring countries have the same strategic orientation in the European Union, says Pendarovski.

In the interview, as reported by MIA from Belgrade, President Pendarovski also spoke about the country’s European integration path, the dispute with Bulgaria, as well as the assistance received by Serbia in dealing with the consequences of the pandemic.
– We are also grateful to friendly Serbia for it’s timely assistance in dealing with the consequences of the pandemic, and especially in the vaccination process. “Serbia has done everything in it’s power to help us and we know how to appreciate that friendly gesture and we will not forget it,” Pendarovski said.
Speaking about the relations between the two countries and the opening of cultural centers in Skopje and Belgrade, Pendarovski said that the two countries have no open issues and are focused on continuous improvement of cooperation. Governments, as he points out, are already exchanging ideas and concrete proposals because cultural cooperation is one of the best ways to strengthen the overall ties and relations between our peoples and countries.

Regarding the obstacles on the European path of Northern Macedonia and the countries in the region, Pendarovski said that RNM made difficult compromises in order to become a full member of NATO and in the future a member of the EU.
– EU membership is crucial for the overall development of all countries and we have no real alternative for European integration. However, the integration of the region into the EU is also a strategic interest for the Union itself, as well as a geopolitical issue, in the context of the efforts to strengthen the role of the Union as an actor in the international order. The EU has made a clear promise to countries in the region that they have a European perspective since the 2003 Thessaloniki summit. Making efforts to realize this promise is also a question of the credibility of the Union itself. “We often hear about enlargement fatigue, which is understandable from the aspect of daily politics, but strategically, the European project will not be completed without the integration of our region in the EU,” Pendarovski said.
He assessed the talks with the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Skopje and Rome as a positive signal for the relations between the two countries and reduction of the tension that has been heating up in different ways in the past period.

– I believe that it is in the interest of both countries, but also of the EU itself, to find a way out of the situation as soon as possible and in that context we appreciate the efforts of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU. We consider their proposal as a solid basis for further talks. Both countries have the capacity to resolve issues through dialogue. In fact, we proved this with the signing of the Good Neighborliness and Cooperation Agreement with Bulgaria in 2017, which is a very important agreement and is the basis for building further relations and cooperation between the two countries and bringing the two peoples closer, says Pendarovski.
Answering a question from “Politika” about the break-up of Yugoslavia, the ideas for redrawing the borders and the role of NATO, Pendarovski said that “you can not go the European way at the same time, and on the other hand support anachronistic ideas belonging to political history and “they have nothing to do with reality.”

– The disintegration of the former Yugoslavia is a complete process. Any new opening of the border issue has the potential to take us back to the era of wars of the 1990s and bring new human suffering and economic setbacks. NATO has fulfilled it’s promise to my country and today RNM is the 30th full member of NATO, which guarantees the territorial integrity and independence of my country, says Pendarovski.
He adds that the position of the ethnic Albanians, citizens of Northern Macedonia, is not part of some kind of regional Albanian issue, but is part of our internal constitutional and political order.

Regarding Kosovo, he assessed that “our constant commitment is to build good relations with Kosovo, because in that way we fulfill our national interests, but we contribute to the strengthening of regional cooperation, something that is also a high foreign policy priority and a friendly Serbia”. On the other hand, says Pendarovski, I believe that lobbying for further recognition of Kosovo is an internal issue of Kosovo politics.