Gligorov and Zaev’s speeches at the UN and the EU

Erol Rizaov

The addresses of the first president of Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov in the United Nations in 1993 in New York and the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the European Parliament in Strasbourg 25 years later have, in addition to the historical dimension, a typical “macedonische zuckende” note. And that is the fact that both of them were welcomed home as traitors by Macedonia’s designated saviours. In the Balkans, nothing can be done without traitors and patriots. It is perhaps less important that they spoke in Macedonian language for the first time in the history of a president of a state and a prime minister from the UN and EU rostrums, and even less important that they were sent off with ovations from a respectable audience rather than what they said, but in the collective memory of the citizens, Gligorov and Zaev addressed in Macedonian language in historical crucial events for Macedonia.  If Gligorov started and finished his speech at the UN headquarters in front of the world’s statesmen with the message that Macedonia’s accession to the family of nations marked the fulfillment of the centuries-old aspirations of the Macedonian people for their own state, 25 years later, Zaev in the European Parliament announced the beginning of the realization the ultimate goal of Macedonia becoming a modern democratic European state member of the European family and NATO ally.

Macedonian politicians have wasted a lot of time in the past 25, or 27 years in achieving their strategic goals, without having succeeded in accelerating the historical processes, democratization and economic development of the country. In addition to the rare highlights and successes, this period will remain recorded as a failed story and as proof that for 27 years Macedonia has not managed to create a stable, prosperous and legal state that would have allowed much better positions in relations with its neighbors and would have become a member EU and NATO long ago, and the citizens would have had a better quality of life. From my notebook as an immediate witness, I convey a small but very illustrative story from Gligorov’s speech to the UN. In the gallery for journalists and other guests at the UN General Assembly, that morning I excitedly awaited the speech of the President of our country. When Gligorov entered the hall, one man a few seats behind me began to loudly call him “a traitor”, “boo, you traitor”… I looked at him frightened, trying to see what’s wrong with his man who yelled “Boo, traitor” several times. I felt embarrassed by his actions. But, after being warned by the security, he became quiet. President Gligorov from the UN’s rostrum has held the historic speech from which today is mostly remembered that it was in Macedonian language and that it was greeted with ovations from the world’s statesmen. At that moment, for me the greatest surprise was the man who called him “a traitor”, then applauded and chanted and shouted “Bravo, President Gligorov”…. I immediately approached him to see what was hidden behind this 15-minute transformation.

For God’s sake man, I said to him, first you yelled “Boo”, then you applaud. He said “Damn those people in Skopje, they lied to me and told me that it would be betrayal of Macedonia and I was convinced that the former communist would do it. When I heard Gligorov talk about the realization of Ilinden’s aspirations of Macedonia, to finally have our own country that strives for the West, I realized the party games and the lies. He quickly told me his story as a lawyer who emigrated from Macedonia due to disagreement with the Yugoslav one-party communist system. I told him “If you want to get to know the president, come to the Plaza Hotel at tonight’s reception in honor of our membership in the UN. In the evening when he shook hands with Gligorov and after chatting with with the president, he seemed as the happiest person I have ever seen. Those at home who declared Gligorov as a traitor while he was still in from New York, took 25 years to grasp the size of the historic act that implies membership in the UN, although today there are still people who can not understand it. Bearing in mind the bitter historical experiences, it is most obvious that if Gligorov returned from New York with unfinished work, without the admission of Macedonia with the provisional reference FYROM, we would have remained no man’s land with all the negative consequences arising for non-member states. Arguments to accept the UN proposal, the resolutions and the Interim Accord with Greece, or to boycott, are likely to continue to this day, provided that the state is kept under such extremely unfavorable circumstances. The same thing happens with the speech of the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the European Parliament. On the other hand, the same matrix and ideology proclaims a betrayal of Macedonian national interests. It will take as much time as the admission to the UN until all the work on Macedonia’s NATO and EU membership is completed. As long as a future president or prime minister do not hold their speeches at the UN, Brussels and Strasbourg as a gratitude for deleting the reference FYROM and for admission to NATO and the EU as the Republic of North Macedonia. Then, what’s happening these days will be a part of history. The surprise will be that more partisans and fighters will emerge after the war is over, when everyone will be FOR. Typically Macedonian. Finally, this is much better than not having a country at all.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik