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SG/SM/20807
1 July 2021

North Macedonia Well Placed to Be Regional Bridge-Builder, Secretary-General Tells First Prespa Forum Dialogue, Urging Continued Political Will to Improve Relations

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message, as delivered by Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, to the first Prespa Forum Dialogue, held 1 to 2 July in Ohrid and Prespa/Oteshevo, North Macedonia:

I send my warmest greetings to the participants in the first Prespa Forum Dialogue.  I applaud the people and Government of North Macedonia for creating this Forum, with the aim of building bridges across the region.

You are eminently well placed to be mediators and bridge-builders.  It was on the shores of Lake Prespa that Skopje and Athens signed an agreement three years ago, showing that intractable issues can be resolved when there is political will.  Leadership by example can pave the way for goodwill gestures that build mutual understanding and trust — the most essential elements to resolve differences.

I hope your discussions at the Prespa Forum will be informed by the same determination to create a positive and forward-looking vision for relations, in the region and beyond.

We live in an age when divisive rhetoric is used widely to incite mistrust and hatred between communities, undermining peaceful coexistence and social cohesion.  The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, creating even greater potential for instability.  Positive change depends on dignity, respect, equality, trust, and opportunity for all.

This region is incredibly resilient and full of potential.  I urge you to put women and young people at the heart of your decision-making, as they can hold the key to fostering sustainable development at all levels.

The United Nations accompanied North Macedonia on every step of the “road to Prespa”.  We will continue to offer our support across the region as it implements the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

I wish you fruitful discussions and a successful first Prespa Forum Dialogue.

For information media. Not an official record.