Mr. President,
Dear Colleagues,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to congratulate to you, Your Excellency, on the assumption of the most prestigious duty of President of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. My delegation is fully confident that your skilful leadership will bring success to this session.

I avail myself of this opportunity to congratulate also the outgoing President, H.E. Mr. Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea for the tireless efforts and dedication in performing his duties.

Mr. President,

The United Nations community has recently become richer with the admission in the membership of the Swiss Confederation. Though the valuable contribution of this country to the United Nations goals was undisputed even before its formal membership, I congratulate the Swiss Federation on this decision. We are also looking forward to the imminent membership of East Timor.

Mr. President,

The heinous acts of September 11th 2001 which struck New York, Washington and Pennsylvania have brought the international community to a critical juncture faced with an ultimate challenge: how to find the way to successfully cope with the indiscriminate effects and devastating consequences of acts of international terrorism.

The promptness with which the world reacted and the solidarity expressed, gathering around the broadest possible coalition ever against terrorism was an exemplary one. The United Nations took the lead in combating international terrorism. The Republic of Macedonia, itself a victim of terrorist aggression, has joined the international coalition and is making its contribution to this end.

Mr. President,

Two days ago, on Sunday, 15 September, we had the fourth free, democratic elections in Macedonia. They marked the progress achieved over the past year and the fact that they went smoothly, reaffirmed our commitment to democracy and the rule of law. They also reaffirmed the maturity of Macedonian society, Government and its citizens, thus once again establishing its position as an equal and respected member of the European family.

Our elections, as an outstanding democratic achievement are more than proof that all along Macedonia stood for political and democratic solutions. They are outstanding example that democracy, elections and political freedom are the most effective mechanisms for a society and its needs, the most efficient answer to violence as an instrument for achieving political goals.

Terrorism has more than once proven itself an unworthy ally, more than that, a dangerous bedfellow, that always as a rule, turns against those that use it in their pursuit of social change or justice.

Therefore, there must be no double standards when dealing with political extremism and terrorism because, as we proved it, there is not one issue that cannot be dealt with politically, better yet, as we have done, through elections.

The obligations contained in the Framework Agreement of 13 August 2001, the signing of which brought an end to the crisis, have been carried out, thus confirming the political commitment of the Macedonian Government and Parliament to implement the Agreement.

Mr. President,

The recent history of crises has shown more than ever the importance of cooperation and solidarity among the countries of our region, as well as of developing regional collective security mechanisms in the South Eastern Europe. Macedonia, on its part, is making every effort to give its contribution to strengthening the cooperation within various regional organizations and initiatives. Further improvement of good-neighborly relations remains one of the priorities of the foreign policy of the Republic of Macedonia.

Speaking about Kosovo, FR Yugoslavia, let me once again reiterate our firm position for the necessity of full implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1244. The Republic of Macedonia has provided continuous support to the efforts of the international community since the very beginning, and has always met the requests of UNMIK and KFOR in regard to the successful fulfillment of their mandate. We support the UNMIK policy of "benchmarks" and believe that it will facilitate the building of a democratic, multi-ethnic society and strengthening of the rule of law in Kosovo.

Let me recall that the Agreement on Delineation and Demarcation of the border between the Republic of Macedonia and the FRY, whose implementation on the ground is about to start soon.

At this point, let me stress that the efforts aimed to undermine the validity of the Agreement as the one we witnessed early this year by the local self-government and Assembly of Kosovo, should be definitely rejected and nullified. We support the reaction of the SRSG Steiner and the Security Council in determining this action null and void.

Mr. President,

There are still many challenges ahead of all of us in the region. All our good will and efforts to provide sustainable stability will not yield results unless we seriously address the real problems present in the region as a consequence of 10 years of wars and instability. Organized crime, various forms of trafficking in drugs, arms, human beings etc, which most often spur extremism and terrorism, have not been adequately taken into account. National measures do not suffice to eliminate these phenomena. Strong involvement and support of the international community is also indispensable.

Let me conclude this part of my statement by informing that the Republic of Macedonia will once again this year submit a resolution on Maintenance of international security-goodneighborliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe. The resolution addresses the complexity of the problems of disarmament, stability and development of this region.

Mr. President,

The struggle against terrorism must not defer us from other important issues on the UN agenda. The Millennium Summit and the Secretary-general's "Road Map Toward the Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration" go hand in hand in identifying the direction of future United Nations activities to which we commit ourselves: eradication of poverty, struggle against HIV/AIDS, conflict prevention, protection of the environment. Indeed, most of the targets set out in the Millennium Declaration derived from various international forums and global conferences from the 1990s and before. However, that does not undermine, in any way, the complexity of identifying and implementing the appropriate strategies for achieving these goals on different levels.

Globalization remains one of the most important issues on the international agenda. It is obvious that there are some essential problems that need to be addressed immediately. In the new millennium, it is crucial for the International community to address the development agenda in a more comprehensive way, hand in hand with improving the status of protection and respect of other fundamental human rights and freedoms. In this context, the implementation of the goals set at the of the International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and with the Summit on Children, the most important United Nations events of this year, require strong political will and commitment on the part of the member states in the forthcoming reviewing period.

There is a need to build stronger partnerships with other relevant organizations beyond the UN System such as WTO, WB, IMF, the business community, NGO's and others in order to have them closely engaged in the process. The fact that every fourth Member-State of our Organization is classified as least developed is certainly of no credit for all of us. That is why this issue has to be given highest priority.

On disarmament matters, while the United Nations Conference on Small Arms and the adopted Programme of Action marked a significant first step on global level towards preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, we deem there is a need for an enhanced follow-up process. The problem of small arms and proliferation has been of particular concern for the Republic of Macedonia and the broader region, especially after the civil unrest in Albania and the conflict in Kosovo. This poses a serious threat not only to the security and stability of my country, but also for the broader region. Therefore, it is necessary to take strong action to combat the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons.

Mr. President,

The strengthening of the role and relevance of our Organization should remain to be one of the topical issues on the United Nations agenda. Additional efforts should be made in particular to strengthen the United Nations preventive and peacekeeping capacities.

Of no less importance is making progress on the issues of equitable representation and reform of the Security Council. We are looking forward to the deliberations this year within the openended working group hoping to produce meaningful progress in making the Security Council more representative and more transparent, while preserving and improving its effectiveness for the maintenance of international peace and stability.

Mr. President,

The Republic of Macedonia has been from the very beginning a strong supporter- for the establishment of the International Criminal Court and one of the first sixty states to ratify the Rome Statute, which entered into force on July 1, 2002. We support the efforts for the ICC to become truly universal, while believing that the concerns expressed regarding the possibility of politically 'motivated procession can be addressed in a way that would not compromise its spirit.

Mr. President,

The world today faces new challenges. Undoubtedly the most important of these is the redefinition of the very essence of international relations. This effort to instill new values is questioned by regimes and rouge leaders that belong to the past, that have, as a contradiction to progress, survived. We are all mesmerized by the development of events surrounding Iraq, and the Middle East as a whole.

Problems like these demand solutions. Many measures are considered today, but they must be based on a common conviction that our main task is to construct a new and better world, and that these extraordinary steps are not our goal.

Therefore, it is the firm conviction of the Republic of Macedonia, that our most important tool must be dialogue and mutual understanding.

We know this best. The Republic of Macedonia had more than a good reason to be among the co-sponsoring countries in proclaiming last year, 2001 as the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, being in the heart of the Balkans and south-eastern Europe, where over the centuries different cultures and civilizations left numerous traces and where Christianity and Islam have struggled for predominance and various ethnicities have interwoven.

As a follow-up and practical contribution towards implementation of the Plan of Action, the President of the Republic of Macedonia will host in November of this year, in the UNESCO City of Ohrid, a regional forum on dialogue among civilizations, a first gathering of this kind in the region of South-eastern Europe, to be held on the highest level, also with participation of various NGO's, civil society representatives and intellectuals.

I thank you.