Albania’s relations with North Macedonia enter a new stage

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s speech during Parliament session on the ratification of the Protocol on the Accession of the Republic of North Macedonia to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): 

Honorable Speaker of North Macedonian Parliament!

Honorable Speaker of Albanian Assembly!

Honorable Assembly of Albania!

The today’s mourning in the neighboring country weighs even heavier on our consciousness with the burden of the fact highlighting our common fate and proximity to north Macedonia, which is manifested in the most meaningful way with the ratification of the Accession Protocol of North Macedonia to NATO.

The shocking number of the dead and injured people in the tragic accident, in a mostly Albanian coincidence, makes our proximity and close relation with the Republic of North Macedonia highly emotional today. This completely unique historic and political relation is also epitomized in the completely historical and political act of today’s unanimous vote in the Assembly of Albania.

Our thoughts and prayers are spiritually with all the tragedy stricken families and we will certainly do our share in the solidarity efforts to ease their intense pain and grief.

We have been standing close to our neighbor throughout the difficult journey to NATO membership. We have persistently done our part along that journey in support of the Macedonian people and the Albanian people of North Macedonia.

I can’t help myself but express my genuine pleasure of this solemn moment of celebration with the Albanian Assembly’s vote on the neighboring country’s accession to NATO coincides with the golden age of inter-ethnic relations between the two state-building peoples of North Macedonia. At the same time, it may not sound very modest, but I would like to focus the Assembly’s attention on the undeniable role of this ruling majority in enabling this golden moment.

I would like to recall that not long time ago, the Albanian language became a bone of contention in the internal politics of the neighboring country and the so-called “Tirana platform” was branded as “the devil’s hand” interfering in North Macedonia’s internal affairs. While just few days ago, His Excellency Speaker of the North Macedonian Parliament, the Honorable Talat Xhaferi presided the historic parliament session in Albanian.

No North Macedonia would exist without the Albanians and the North Macedonia’s territorial integrity, the true democratic coexistence between our two peoples in the territory of the neighboring republic and the Albanian language in that territory are for Albania not only inviolable, but also vital the future of peace and stability in the region, but our role in this historic process has nevertheless been a supporting and not a leading role.

If the situation of interethnic and political relations in North Macedonia is better than never before, this is primarily due to the constructive role of Albanian political leadership in that country, as well as to the visionary and courageous leadership of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, whom I avail myself of this occasion to solemnly greet from this session for the historic accomplishment of NATO membership and to congratulate once again for reaching out the hand of fraternity toward the Albanians.

Indeed, the Republic of North Macedonia, under the leadership of Prime Minister Zaev and with the decisive support from the Albanian political parties, has become an inspiring role model with the Prespa Agreement, demonstrating how history can shape the future, how the visionary and courageous leadership of two people can undo a traditional knot in the relationship between the two countries, or how the interests of the two state-building peoples can match with the state’s high interest with the elect living up to the best interest of their voters.

I wish that sooner rather than latter we celebrate the compromise that would conclude our dialogue with Greece, or even more important for the Albanians, for the region and for Europe itself in the extremely difficult process of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

It is utterly true that no North Macedonia’s accession to NATO would become a reality and no progress would have been made on North Macedonia’s path towards European integration without the Prespa Agreement.

Certainly, no Prespa Agreement would have existed without the understanding and unity among the Macedonian and Albanian progressive forces.

Of course, there would be no sense and unity among the parties without a visionary and courageous leadership on the Macedonian side.

It is clear that NATO membership or the continuation of the European integration path were and still remain the major pillars of the positive trend that interethnic and political relations took in North Macedonia, but let us not forget that after all that all these developments are to the benefit of today’s children and those who will be born tomorrow and not for the sake of NATO or Europe.

Albania’s relations with North Macedonia has now entered a new phase.

Let’s do our outmost to make the best of it in best interest of our two nations and people and vote it today being convinced that best days are still ahead of us!

Thank you!