Monday, 16 September 2019
Address of the President of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia on International Day of Democracy
Dear colleagues Members of Parliament,
Members of the Club on Youth Affairs and Policies,
Distinguished Secretary General Ivanova,
Dear representatives of the NDI,
Dear award winners and dear youth,
Today is a beautiful day, the International Day of Democracy, and I cannot but share with you the sense of happiness and pride that, on behalf of the Members of the Legislature and on my own behalf, I can greet you, young colleagues and members of youth organizations, and congratulate you on being dedicated, determined and tireless in your activism.
Two years ago, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Democracy and the 10th anniversary of the proclamation of September 15th as the International Day of Democracy. We marked the day in a slightly different composition, namely, with respectable, experienced former presidents and members of parliament, people who contributed with their full capacity to build a true parliamentary democracy in which young generations, that is, you, will grow and prosper. Their experience, coupled with the vigor, creativity and persistence of the young people, is an exceptional combination! And, I have to admit that I like this setting more.
As you know, the Club on Youth Affairs and Policies was established in the Assembly as an informal body of Members of Parliament from all parliamentary groups, without being burdened with the daily politics of the political party they come from. Their sole purpose is to create youth policies by enabling precisely those young people to participate by expressing their views, talking about things as they feel for themselves, and contributing with suggestions for the best possible policies and legal solutions aimed at improving the position and life of young people. And where else if not in the temple of democracy, in the home of the citizens? Yes, this is your place, the place where your initiatives, your proposals will be heard, and thus unite MPs from different parties, ethnic groups, confessions and genders to implement them in real life.
We encourage and welcome different types of youth activism and contribution to society, because we believe that democracy, without the forms of activism and without active citizens' participation, above all youth in policy-making processes, is vulnerable and always on the brink of survival. As Robert Hutchins says, I quote "The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."
Today, we proudly welcome youth initiatives that gain awards world-wide, that are dedicated to raising awareness on the prevention of violence, the environment and the rights of people with disabilities, but we also encourage them, especially you dear high school students who are our guests in the Assembly today, to get active, create initiatives, use all your creativity to contribute to social change and "Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on." as Thurgood Marshall, a US civil rights activist has said. Because every voice is important, every cry is a sign that you are alive, aware, that you are conscientious and responsible citizens, and at the same time, courageous to say out loud what is wrong, what is unfair or harmful. Be the engine that paves the way for a better and happier future for all of us living in this beautiful country, which, although small in territory, has all the prerequisites to be a country for example. Being a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society is a huge asset for us, because those differences have enriched us with the beauty of knowing to learn to live and build a future with the different, to understand and respect the customs of others, to celebrate the holidays together, and to sympathize with each other when unhappy. Be full of solidarity, be open and respectful to each individual, because only by inclusion will we create the conditions for the economic, social and cultural development for us all, because “everything makes a whole”, the picture is beautiful only when it is complete and happiness is greater only when everyone is happy in that picture. Be the voice of the less powerful, because freedom of speech is a human right and it is the foundation upon which democracy is built. Without freedom of speech, there is no democracy.
Dear young people,
This is why today, together with you, we are celebrating the Day of Democracy, and we remind you that only active citizens are the guardians of democracy and a leading force to social change! Be that force, and we, the politicians, will be your support and strength!
Congratulations to the winners and congratulations on the International Day of Democracy !
Thank you for your attention!