Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in an interview upon the invitation of CIVIL, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, appealed to all citizens not to overlook any form of discrimination and to alert the institutions. As to the human right to self-determination, Zaev says: “Just as I know today that no one can dispute my right to self-determination, neither I or anyone else can deny or change how our grandfathers and great-grandfathers felt and self-determined themselves”.
Winner of multiple international awards and recognitions, of which the latest being the Human Rights Award received in Berlin, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is more than a good choice for an interlocutor on the occasion of International Human Rights Day (December 10). Zaev is not just a politician. Side by side with human rights activists, he participated in the peaceful protests against the autocracy, corruption, electoral fraud and structural violence that Nikola Gruevski’s regime carried out until April 2017. Both the international and domestic public recognize him as a supporter of peaceful conflict resolution, good-neighbourliness and progressive policies and practices, as a great defender of human rights and an inclusive, multicultural society.
CIVIL MEDIA: You are a recipient of multiple international awards, including the Human Right Award in Berlin in October this year. In that context, what do you, as a Prime Minister, plan to do in the area of respect for human rights and implementation of the Strategy “One society for all”, which is one of the most important efforts and projects of the government?
ZORAN ZAEV: I have always understood the awards, primarily, as a recognition for the policies we implement and I always say that those awards are also awards of our people. In that sense, the Human Rights Award that I received in Berlin is confirmation of the good policies that I as a Prime Minister, as well as the government team, but also all involved individuals and associations, are implementing precisely through the Strategy “One society for all”.
Three years ago we encountered a society occupied with divisions and conflicts among people – along ethnic, religious, cultural, social and literally all lines. We managed to make a shift and implemented a policy turned towards the future, and not the past. Instead of “our” and “yours” divisions, by provoking and intolerance towards others, we created an environment in which diversity brings quality, complement and enrich the picture, which is called North Macedonia. In that sense, the rails for the Macedonian Europeanization are set and Europe recognizes this.
I am especially glad that at the end of October the Parliament again managed to adopt the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination, which provides security and protection of the rights of citizens. This is a good legal solution that addresses all grounds for discrimination and enables more effective and institutional action. At the same time, it represents harmonization with the European legislation and harmonization with Article 9 of the Constitution, according to which all citizens are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of sex, race, colour of skin, national and social origin, political or religious belied, property and social status.
Providing the principle of equality and prevention and protection against discrimination is the direction in which our policies continue.
CIVIL MEDIA: In the context of International Human Rights Day, as well as of the international law overall, can you assess the situation with the right to self-determination of every person, group, community, and even people? How much is that right respected, and how much violated?
ZORAN ZAEV: Even though up until know we have created an environment in which the right to self-determination and respect for diversity are respected, the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination strengthens the mechanisms for protection against discrimination. This is especially important for various social minority or marginalized groups, such as the LGBT population, who often have been a target of violence by extremist groups and individuals.
At the same time, through systematic measures, we will continue eradicating prejudice appearing towards certain minority groups, here, above all, I have in consideration the Roma community.
These days, we need to especially have in consideration the current interest of multiple international documents and conventions that determine the right to self-determination of peoples as a basic human right of every citizen belonging to those peopls.
The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, adopted by the UN in 1970, which is in accordance with the Charter states “establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people”.
This Declaration, including also the UN Charter, is in accord also with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which determine that all peoples have the right to self-determination, based on that right, they freely decide on their political status and develop economically, socially and culturally.
Hence, just as I know today that no one can dispute my right to self-determination, neither I or anyone else can deny or change how our grandfathers and great-grandfathers felt and self-determined themselves.
ZORAN ZAEV: On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, I would like to appeal to all citizens not to overlook any form of discrimination and to alert the institutions.
There are no excuses, not even the COVID-19 pandemic, for justifying discrimination and tolerating violation of human rights.
Here I would like to address also the increased number of cases of domestic violence in this time of a pandemic.
Voice of the victims and appropriate sanctions for perpetrators must be guaranteed and secured.
The institutions are here to offer protection from perpetrators and safeguard victims, but at the same time also to work on prevention. However, early detection of all forms of violence is of great importance, for which citizens and the civil sector sometimes have a key role.
Therefore, I call on everyone to actively be involved in building a better and more just environment for all of us. In our community “One society for all”, to continue with Europeanization of North Macedonia as a society of equal citizens and in paving the Macedonian path to Europe.
translation: N. Cvetkovska