Respected friend Alexis,
Respected ministers of foreign affairs, Mr. Kotzias and Mr. Dimitrov,
Respected members of both governments,
Respected Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the United Nations, Madam Rosemary DiCarlo,
Respected ambassador Nimetz,
Respected High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Madam Mogherini,
Respected Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Mister Hahn,
Respected media representatives,
Allow me at the beginning of my address to paraphrase two thoughts from the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle. He says:
“You cannot achieve anything without courage. Courage is the greatest virtue, right after honor” and “Hope is an awaken dream”. These two quotes from Aristotle mean that when you have faith, courage and hope – you can move mountains.
My feeling today, that I share sincerely with all of you, is that, with the signing of the Final agreement for the resolution of the name issue and for strategic partnership between our two countries – we moved mountains.
When many doubted it, we confirmed that it is possible!
Today we put an end to a dispute. We put an end to longstanding differences that raised a wall burdening the friendly relations between neighbors.
The issue was open for three decades. Those were three decades of uncertainty for our future. Those were three decades of serious worries for unwanted consequences.
Therefore, we, me and Prime Minister Tsipras, the ministers of foreign affairs Kotzias and Dimitrov, the members of our governments, together with our associates, and with the support of The United Nations, The European Union and with the support of our joint strategic friends, we started the search for a solution.
For a dignified and acceptable solution for both sides.
And we have arrived at a solution. This official ceremony is a culmination of all our efforts. This is an expression of our dedication to find a solution that is in the interest of the future of the citizens of both our countries.
Three decades we are solving a dispute, BUT, for me, it is important that these three decades have thought us many important things.
Great visions can be realized only through action, through brave initiative. In order to achieve our goal, we were focused and we continuously called on building trust and creating a friendly ambient and a chance for the creative dialogue and for all solutions with a potential.
We learned that we need to learn from history, not repeat it. We have been repeating the lesson that says when countries are at peace, so will be the world, and when countries are in agony, the world will suffer too. On the foundations of the past – we are building the future.
What are we getting from this agreement?
The Agreement has brought us encouragement and inspiration for greater trust between the two countries, for initiatives which assuredly bring better life for the citizens of both countries.
The solution, and the process we have gone through, has brought us a friend. A friend that until recently some in our surrounding tried to convince us that it is an enemy. We are building friendship with Greece. We will be partners and allies. They will be our supporters. Together we are tracing a path for strategic partnership, for the benefits for the citizens in both countries.
In the region, we are getting a new reality. We cannot ignore anymore, the fact that we live in a world where we are driven to one another. That is a reality that we will jointly build on the foundations of mutual friendship and mutual commitment for democracy, peace and prosperity in our countries and the region.
Together we are creating a regional community, a family focused on people, on the citizens.
What is ahead of us?
To open the borders for cooperation with the neighbors, and not for rivalry and tensions.
To hold the values of the European Union and to help each other as neighbors, as the President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, says in his speech “United we persist, divided we fall”.
Together to care for comprehensive and sustainable security.
We have another goal ahead of us: To build joint prosperity though stronger economic cooperation.
With the Agreement that we are signing today, we created a chance. We have a historic possibility, to strengthen the cooperation for building stronger economic ties and together to achieve higher level of growth and development. We have an obligation to ease the trade, investments, the mobility of goods and people, and the technological advancement.
We saw that no country had any benefit from isolation, or self-isolation.
We have one more thing ahead of us. Very important. I want to send a message to the opponents of this Agreement in both countries.
Our societies, the Macedonian and the Greek, are part of the joint European value system. Our citizens equally deserve peace, democracy, rule of law and freedom in all its forms. Our countries have an obligation to stand behind equality between nations, human dignity and solidarity.
The European concept is a civilizational value that is democratic and fights against the fear and manipulations of the populism. Europe is stronger than the fear. The Greeks, the Macedonians, The Europeans are stronger than the fear.
The European family knows no walls. Europe is estranged with the xenophobia. That never was and never will be an option for Europe.
On the contrary, democracy reacts to problems, fights against fear and pain. It renews the hope for the future.
And everyone should know, the opponents of an idea, and the opponents of this Agreement, have a right to voice their opinions and arguments. To have a standpoint is a European manner. Just as it is a European manner to discuss and provide a chance for a solution through the institutional system of decision-making.
It is European to give a chance to the offered solution. The whole democratic world, all our mutual friends, partners and supporters pointed out that this Agreement is the step with which our two countries are coming out from the past and moving towards the future.
When everyone thought there is no way out, we came through and we are moving forward.
Respected friends, respected neighbours, respected Alexis,
I am extending my gratitude for the virtue and the strength you have demonstrated, together with us, to dedicate yourselves to this historical and longstanding solution. I know it was not easy for you either, but I also know that you stood on the right side of history.
At the end, let me extend my sincere acknowledgement and gratitude to His Excellency, ambassador Matthew Nimetz. As a representative of the General Secretary of The United Nations, he dedicated almost three decades from his life in mediation of this issue. That is truly something to respect and bow to.
With pleasure, I extend the same gratitude towards the European Union and its representatives for all the previous years.
The presence of the respected High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Madam Mogherini and to the respected Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Mister Johannes Hahn, at today’s official, historical ceremony, confirms that they stand beside us, in all our future challenges.
Though this whole period, we are also getting great support from The United States of America and from all NATO allies – our family that guarantees the safety of this region and further.
I want to extend a special gratitude to the heads of states and governments of the neighbouring countries. Their encouragement and assistance were crucial in these decisive moments.
Finally, I can say today that we are proud from our Agreement. We are proud because we have united around a solution to a dispute that was dividing us, we chose a solution that unites us. Now, and let it be that way forever.