New York 24 September, 2003
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Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am greatly honored to address this distinguished gathering of the world's leaders at the UN, a truly unique global organization, deeply engaged in promotion of human values and international peace and stability.

I would like to thank Mr. Jan Kavan for his important contribution in the past year as President of the fifty-seventh session and to congratulate Mr. Julian Robert Hunte, on his election to the post of President of the fifty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly and I wish him every success in executing this very responsible function.

On behalf of all citizens of my country, the Republic of Macedonia, I would like to pay special tribute to the UN and its Secretary General, Mr. Annan who delivered an indeed inspiring speech yesterday, for their relentless dedication and efforts in pursuing the righteous cause to protect human rights and freedoms and to safeguard prosperity and security in the world.

We certainly do remember a great person, Mr. Sergio Viera de Mello who paid the highest price for pursuing the noble role of the UN in Iraq. We fully support the goals of the international community in Iraq - the achievement of a free sovereign Iraq run by the people of Iraq for the people of Iraq. However, this sovereignty must be based on democracy, freedom and peaceful existence with neighbors. To achieve these goals as quickly as possible, the United Nations must play a more comprehensive and active role in the transition back to Iraqi sovereignty. I would also like to use this occasion to express our satisfaction with the work carried out by the Coalition forces in helping Iraqi people to rebuild their country after decades of the disasters of Saddam Hussein's despotic regime.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Reforming the UN, particularly its Security Council and revitalizing the GA are of crucial importance to all of us. My government firmly believes in the need of pursuing these goals in a consistent and more efficient way.

The Republic of Macedonia strongly believes that the UN involvement in various parts of the world will essentially improve the responses of the democratically oriented governments and reform minded people and add to the overall level of legitimacy of their actions. It's obvious that we need to offer a more vocal support to the multilateralism in approaching substantial issues on the international agenda, to which we fully commit ourselves: eradication of poverty, fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS around the world, conflict prevention and protection of the environment among others.

The World Summit on the Information Society to be held in Geneva this year and in Tunis 2005, along with two other Summits, held last year-Financing for Development in Monterrey-Mexico and Sustainable Development in Johannesburg-can be regarded, in the context of globalization and the overall -development process, as landmarks of a new approach in dealing with the challenges of today's world. Within the aforementioned framework, it is essential to fully implement the Millennium Declaration, as a key document for peace, security, sustainable development and prosperity.

The most serious contemporary threat for humanity is identified and visible. It is the evil of terrorism. The fight against terrorism was and must remain our highest priority. In this regard, it would be immensely helpful to make a commitment to reach a consensus in relation to the remaining disputed points in the process of drafting Conventions on international and nuclear terrorism.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Facing the challenge of the year 2001, we found a way out by signing the Framework agreement that brought vital democratic processes back to the institutions and re-established and reaffirmed democratic procedures for addressing internal problems of any kind. Today, I am very proud to say that I came here, in the same mood as three years ago when I took part in the Millennium Summit, full of optimism, and truly convinced that after a hard work done, strategic issues of our future have been solved, once and for all, upon a broad political, social and interethnic consensus. Progress towards a real and authentic integration of all ethnic communities in the state structures is significant, and it has roots in our centuries-long model and tradition of multiculturalism and interethnic co-existence.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In order to contribute in a constructive way to the more positive picture of the region and productive cooperation among the nations, the Republic of Macedonia launched numerous regional initiatives in the context of NATO and EU integrations. In parallel, while pursuing very ambitious reform agendas, we achieved an internal consensus about our foreign policy priorities and realized that bad legacies from our unfortunate past will be most successfully left behind us through the promotion of the new substantial links among the people who live in South East Europe.

A month ago in Ohrid, we held a very successful regional forum, "Dialogue among civilizations" attended by numerous heads of state, other leaders and scholars from all over the world who spoke very openly about the importance of having cultural interchange as a permanent basis for the promotion  of continuous dialogue and cohabitation between the people and the states. In the message adopted at the forum, all participants agreed that a thorough and continuous commitment would be needed by all to genuinely transform our region and to discharge once and for all this "powder keg" of Europe.

The Republic of Macedonia has built a solid cooperation with the UNMIK administration in Kosovo and has developed a network of activities aimed to ease communications and to liberalize the movement of people from both sides of the border. The Republic of Macedonia welcomes the  appointment of - Harri Holkeri as the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and gives him full support. We are fully supportive of the implementation of the UN SC Resolution 1244 and the political position declared by UNMIK calling for the fulfillment of the standards of democracy, and applying the rule of law, before starting the negotiations about the final status of Kosovo. We express our deep concern over the recent upsurge of interethnic violence in Kosovo that only undermines the efforts of the international community and the Kosovar people in fulfilling the set standards.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the Balkans, we see the collaboration and mutual respect emerging even between yesterday's enemies and opposing factions. We witness the gradual, but steady reconciliation of the nations. And, last but not least, important regional initiatives for free trade, trade facilitation and building infrastructure are connecting businesses and binding up people in a productive way, which help to raise awareness about our common future.

My country, the Republic of Macedonia, is an indivisible part of these joint regional efforts to transform our part of the continent into a decent place to live in. To that end, we will need the understanding and concrete support from the rest of the world's community which should not neglect the call of the progressive people to join efforts in securing liberty.

We do believe that the greatness of countries is not dependent upon the size of their armies and number of weapons they possess, but upon the commitment and dedication of their citizens in regard to the noble ideas of humanity and legacy of our civilization. In this tremendous task to preserve our common treasury and to create a better world for the generations to come, we are more than willing to participate, because we are all equal to each other, while contributing to the common aim.

Mr. President,

We are deeply concerned with the escalation in violence in the Middle East. The parties need to recommit themselves to the Road Map process, because it is the only alternative that can bring security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians. The international community must step up its activities in this extremely difficult juncture, ensuring that it stands still on the path of ending terrorism and occupation, and of establishing the State of Palestine, living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security.

On disarmament matters, having in mind our immediate concerns over the problem with small arms and light weapons, the Republic of Macedonia was an advocate of strong international action towards preventing, combating and eradicating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, since this poses a serious threat not only to the security and stability of my country, but also for the broader region. We welcome the conclusions of the Biennial Meeting on implementing the 2001 UN Programme of Action to combat illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, held in July 2003, that progress had been made worldwide within barely two years of adopting the Programme of Action.

For the African countries the main priority at this moment is the fight against HIV/AIDS - a pandemic which is taking a devastating toll on the African population. The international community must work hand in hand with the African Governments in defeating this deadly disease.

Africa must work also very hard to achieve the strategic goals of New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) -- in the areas of peace and security, democracy, good governance, poverty reduction and sound economic management.

Mr. President,

I sincerely believe that we will find a common language on how to strengthen our organization and maintain its mission of peace, prosperity, economic and social justice and human rights.

Thank you.