Hahn tells Mickoski it is not the time for political games

Skopje, 18 September, 2018 - 11:36 (META) 

In the past few weeks, Skopje has become the most popular destination for politicians from around the world. This is evidence that the agreement reached with Greece is appreciated. There are many conflicts in the world, and this is a rare example of resolving such a conflict, said EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn at press conference alongside Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

“The referendum is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. The decision you will make on September 30 will have far-reaching influence even for those who are not born yet. Unfortunately, I still have to use the abbreviation FYROM – The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, although I do not like it at all. You, the people will decide whether in the future I will address you as the Republic of North Macedonia,” said Hahn.

The European Commissioner met with the leader of the opposition, Hristian Mickoski, urging him not to use the referendum as a political event.

“It is important to motivate everyone to participate in the referendum and to exercise their democratic right. There are personal feelings, but the most important thing is to take part. Through this, to show how important the decision is. I want as many citizens to participate as possible in the referendum, because it is a message to the EU. My message to Mickoski and the Prime Minister is that this is a referendum on the country’s future. The whole situation must not be turned into something that is a political event. I think that political parties should refrain from party needs and goals. It’s not the time to play political games,” added Hahn.


Zaev: The disinformation serves as the great underminer of democratic and reformatory processes

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev together with the EU-Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, opened the conference for the counties from Western Balkans, the EU -Western Balkans Media Days that is taking place in Skopje and is organized by the European Commission.

-It is inadmissible to allow the freedom of the press to remain only a declaration written in the laws and resolutions. In order to remain alive, authentic and put into practice every day, it has to come out of and be a part of economically sustainable, inde[endent pluralistic media sector, that exists in a functional state where the rule of law governs, as a guarantee for an authentic media freedom – said Zaev.

He also said that the “trend for spreading disinformation is a great underminer of the democratic and reformatory processes including the region’s Europeanization.”

-This para-information is part of the process of undermining the rule of law and the political stability that, among other, is influencing the work of the journalists. The fake news is always intended for discrediting people, to spread disinformation, to instigate conflicts, hatred, paranoia, conspiracy. In a regional context, the fake news is directed towards ethnic, political and religious intolerance, and are a joint enemy of the trend of reconciliation among the countries from the Western Balkans and their final Europeanization – said Zae.

He stressed that he advocates the concept of self-regulation i.e. the media professionals are those that will have to set the standards for themselves.

Mattis: The referendum is the most important vote in your nation’s history

Skopje, 17 September, 2018 - 13:58 (META) 

The upcoming referendum is the most important vote in your nation’s history. You will decide on your future in the referendum and have the support of the United States, said US Secretary of Defense James Mattis at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska.

According to him, the Prespa Accord will enable the implementation of key reforms in the accession process to NATO and the EU and will strengthen the security and economic development of Macedonia.

“You recently celebrated the anniversary of the referendum in which over 95% of citizens opted for the independence of the country. In two weeks your citizens will once again have the opportunity to take the country forward. I applaud you for your tireless efforts to achieve the historic Prespa agreement with Greece. We know that this demanded patient diplomacy from both sides and compromises are always difficult, “Mattis said, expressing gratitude to Zaev and Sekerinska for their commitment in resolving what he called a “tough name dispute”.

Recalling a statement from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, that by joining NATO, Macedonia will get an equal place in the most successful military alliance, along with 29 other member states which, according to Mattis, “are committed to protecting you and your safety.”

“We are ready to welcome you as the 30th member of NATO,” said the US Defense Secretary.

He emphasized that the Alliance is committed to preserving the territorial integrity and preserving freedom and democracy.

Mattis announced that today he will meet with the head of the Macedonian state Gjorge Ivanov, who, as he said, will continue talks on the bright future that lays ahead.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s visit is more confirmation of the encouragement and affirmation of our strategic partnership and is a strong motivation for the correctness of the policies that the Republic of Macedonia is taking in terms of dialogue and tolerance, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the press conference .

Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska pointed out that Mattis’s visit is strong confirmation of the strategic partnership between Macedonia and the United States.

Zaev: I have no evidence of Russian influence in Macedonia

Skopje, 17 September, 2018 - 11:40 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev replied to a question at the conference dedicated to media freedom in the region and said that he has no evidence of Russian influence in Macedonia.

_I have no evidence of any Russian influence in Macedonia. The Russian Federation is a friend of the Republic of Macedonia and there is nothing that stands in the way of Macedonia’s accession in the EU, but it is openly opposed against NATO. If there is any evidence of interference by using fake news I will publicly share them – said Zaev.

He reminded that there is no alternative for Macedonia but EU and NATO and that Macedonia wants to have “Friendly relations with all countries.”

Zaev stressed that he is aware of the information for networks of profiles that are spreading fake news on social media including traditional media, and stated that he hopes that we “can get to know the details,” but that there are no indication of countries spreading fake news.

The Prime Minister warned that “the misuse in the form of spreading disinformation can easily reflect on the stability and it doesn’t represent freedom of speech.”

The question was posted because of the statement that was given by Pentagon’s spokesperson, Eric Peon tot he New York Times before today’s visit of the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis to Macedonia, which said: “Macedonia’s membership in NATO is one of Russia’s worst nightmares.”

Zaev said that the US Secretary of Defense, Mattis will come to encourage the citizens to use their democratic right to vote and expects to exchange experiences with him as two partner countries.”

This is a referendum on our second independence, Zaev tells European Parliament

Strasbourg, 13 September, 2018 - 14:04 (META) 

This is a historic moment for the Macedonian people. This is the first time that a prime minister of our country addresses the European Parliament in his native mother tongue, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev during his address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Speaking about the referendum on September the 30th, Zaev said that it is an opportunity that Macedonia has long waited for and stressed that it will be a referendum of second independence.

“In 1991, we voted for independence; in a referendum. Now, again in a referendum, we need to take the next step: To create a real opportunity to become the 30th member state of NATO, and to close chapter by chapter to the European Union, into the European family. The referendum on September 30th is much more than just a referendum on the Prespa Accord. It’s a referendum on the future. This is a referendum on our second independence,” Zaev told MEPs.

Zaev thanked his colleagues Boris Borisov and Alexis Tsipras and called for the model of the agreement reached by Skopje and Athens, to be followed to resolve other bilateral issues in the Western Balkans.

“We want to serve as an example as well as an inspiration for resolving all bilateral issues in the Western Balkans and we strongly support finding sustainable solutions based on European values ​​and international law, that will permanently stabilize the region and prepare for EU integration,” said the Macedonian prime minister.

According to him, a successful Balkan region is one integrated in the EU and added that this vision was an incentive for the historic step that spurred the processes of reconciliation, building unity and alliance in the region.

“We are aware of the recommendations, they are our priorities also: independent and democratic institutions, the rule of law, the fight against corruption and professional public administration as a service for citizens,” the prime minister added.

Zaev also said he believes the referendum will be successful and that citizens will vote for Europe. He added that it is a great honour to be invited to address the European Parliament and shows strong support.

Mogherini, Mitchell and Bushati will visit Skopje today

Skopje, 13 September, 2018 - 10:36 (META) 

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, the US Assistant Secretary of State, Aaron Wes Mitchell, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, Ditmir Bushati, will be visiting Macedonia today.

Mogherini will have meetings with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, President Gjorge Ivanov, and will also meet with the opposition leader, Hristijan Mickoski.

The IS Assistant Secretary of State, Aaron Wes Mitchell, as announced by the US State Department, will have meetings with Prime Minister Zaev and other official representatives in support of the {Prespa Agreement between Macedonia and Greece, and the forthcoming referendum on the 30th of September. During his stay in Skopje, Mitchell will have meetings with representatives of parliamentary parties and the business community.

Next week, another high US representative will visit Macedonia – the US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who will visit Skopje to provide clear support for the forthcoming referendum, but also a to express his concern for the potential interference of Moscow in the process.

In the past period, Macedonia was visited by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, NATO’s General SecretaryJens Stoltenberg, the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the MInisters of Foreign Affairs of Luxemburg and Netherlands, Jean Asselborn and Stef Blok.

A successful referendum means peace for Kosovo

Skopje, 12 September, 2018 - 16:33 (META) 

After meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci called on the citizens of Macedonia to vote in favor of the referendum, adding that a successful referendum would mean peace for Kosovo.

“The future of Kosovo and Macedonia is to aim for the EU and NATO. Kosovo gives its support for Macedonia to move forward towards NATO for a European future. I urge the citizens to participate in the referendum and vote for Macedonia in NATO. This is a historic moment, an opportunity to be seized,” said Thaci.

The President of Kosovo also touched on the relations between Belgrade and Pristina, pointing out that it will not be easy for the process alone to make a historic final decision and to resolve issues between Kosovo and Serbia, but that’s why dialogue exists.

“You have concluded the agreement with Greece, now it is Kosovo and Serbia’s turn to find a solution by dialogue. You know that this will not be an easy process to make a historic final decision to resolve the issues between Kosovo and Serbia, but that’s why dialogue exists. We have many barriers, but I am optimistic, because it is better to reach an agreement now rather than three decades later. I will make a huge effort to reach an agreement with Serbia which means reciprocal recognition,” adds Thaci, who says he has assured Zaev that a possible settlement between Kosovo and Serbia will not be by blasting neighboring countries.

He added that Macedonia welcomes dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, which it considers key to the stability of the region.

Zaev in video address: My people, it is time to be brave, we decide!

Skopje, 12 September, 2018 - 16:16 (META) 

My people, it’s time to be brave and look to the future, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a video address to citizens regarding the upcoming referendum on September 30th, the government’s press service reported.

“Today, when we stand together before the biggest challenge in the history of our country, we have the unique chance to seize this historic opportunity. This second referendum will consolidate our independence, so say yes, for a stable and secure future for the future in Europe . On September 30th, in the referendum, we decide. Our path is not easy, but we know what we are getting. We know that we are our own, Macedonians who speak a recognized Macedonian language, citizens who opt for a better life, with higher incomes, and better jobs. All this in our beautiful Macedonia, safe, secure, peaceful, friendly and stable. European, “says Zaev.

In the negotiations and the agreement, Zaev added, we preserved our language and nationality, our culture, we saved our history. According to him, a successful referendum will forever ensure our future.

“This historical moment is greater than us, our parties, quarrels or personal interests. We have to work for a future for our children. Let’s all go and vote on the referendum, for a European Macedonia,” Zaev concludes.

Zaev: I shall accept a TV duel with Mickoski when he confirms he is against the referendum boycot

Skopje, 12 September, 2018 - 13:21 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, after the meeting with the Kosovar President, Hashim Tacci, said that he will accept a TV duel with the VMRO-DPMNE’s party leader, Hristijan Mickoski when he publicly announces that he is against boycotting the referendum.

-When he announces he is against the boycott, he can choose the medium. I think of myself of supporting debates. Boycotting Macedonia’s future doesn’t deserve a debate. I will accept a debate when he announces that he is against boycotting – said Zaev.

Late last night Mickoski has called upon Zaev for a TV duel after he called upon VMRO-DPMNE’s supporters to act according to their beliefs and to decide for themselves whether they should vote or boycott the referendum.

Mickoski: Each citizen should act in accordance with their belief

Skopje, 12 September, 2018 - 10:08 (META) 

As soon as the meetings of the Central and the Executive Committee took place, and taking into account all of what I stated previously and the clear stance that this Agreement is unacceptable for us, and that it’s an above party issue, we have made a decision that each citizen should act in accordance with their belief, stated VMRO-DPMNE’s president, Hristijan Mickoski.

After the long speech, during which he called Prime Minister to a TV duel, Mickoski stressed that the Agreement with Greece about changing the country’s name is a document that he and VMRO-DPMNE don’t accept.

-Because it is out of our principles and accord. We remain firm on the stance that we are against this Agreement because we have stated this previously, and everyone knows that this agreement will change the Constitution of Republic of Macedonia, it will change the institutional identity as a key segment of one nation’s national identity, one state, the travel documents will be changed including the personal documents. A Committee for reviewing and revising our culture and tradition will be accepted which will open a path where our southern neighbor may block the country’s Euro-Atlantic integrations whenever it pleases and in ways it pleases to do so. All of this is contrary to our positions and we cannot say one thing now and tomorrow something else. I cannot do that, I will not do that since it’s irresponsible. We are losing our positions, all of the advantages and all of the arguments that were gained over the years. This agreement will make the UN Resolution, the Interim Accord and the Hague verdict vanish – said Mickoski.

VMRO-DPMNE”s President stressed that it doesn’t mean that the party is against EU and NATO.

-I stress that VMRO-DPMNEchooses a membership into NATO and the EU. These are our friends and partners. The Republic of Macedonia must not have other future than the one headed towards these organizations. But at the same time, we are against the Agreement because it does not reflect the interests of the Republic of Macedonia and it opposes the Constitution and this country’s principles – said Mickoski.