“Difficult times give us lessons in humility, when best of us, best of our societies, best of humanity comes to life. This is the reason that are we are marking Europe Day here, in front of ‘8 Septemvri' hospital, representing all medical institutions in the country. We want to thank, pay respect and salute the women and men that are at the forefront in the fight against the pandemic. They are the true heroes of our time. They put at risk their health and even their lives in order to save us and the society. Huge thank you. We dedicate Europe Day to you”.
Applause followed these words of EU Ambassador Samuel Žbogar, spoken at a symbolic Europe Day event in Skopje, in the presence of government officials and hospital staff.
The extraordinary circumstances created by the Covid-19 this year replaced the usual 9 May gatherings with online happenings and with this ceremony, dedicated to medical workers and what they represent: solidarity, self-sacrifice and humanity.
“The threat by the coronavirus knows no boundaries, takes lives, impacts on health, undermines the economies, threatens our societies and even the world order. It has altered fundamentally our way of living. It has changed for good or bad, but definitely forever the normal as we knew it. But the virus brought to the forefront one of EU’s founding values – that of solidarity. It is solidarity that brought the EU 70 years of peace and prosperity. And it is solidarity that is bringing Europe out of the current crisis”, said Žbogar.
The Ambassador said that these days he was especially proud of being a European and of representing the EU in the country “as we are witnessing Europe at its best”. “This year we marked 20 years of the EU Delegation in Skopje and over 20 years of continuous investment in every aspect of your society. We were finally able to trigger your journey into a better future in the EU. The solidarity extended by the EU and its Member States to you and the region during this crisis provided an answer to the dilemma of what is the EU’s attitude to the region. The answer is: We are one family!”, said Žbogar.
EU Delegation brought music, art and debates to citizens’ doors! But also the other way around!
‘Stronger together’ was the feature of all events that the EU Delegation organised online, under the title ‘Eurothon’, to mark Europe Day in these unusual circumstances.
Young musicians from the Piano Art school opened the programme with their take on the Ode to Joy.
Meanwhile their elder colleagues (Ilija Nikolovski-Luj secondary school) offered personal readings of classical and pop pieces.
High school- and university students, together with NGO representatives, debated the EU and youth with Ambassador Žbogar and Minister of Education Ademi.
A video summing up all debates of the Ambassador with high school students was also launched.
Erasmus+ beneficiaries from the country shared their unique experience gained under the emblematic EU programme for students.
In addition, Žbogar gave a class on society in the ‘TV classroom’ programme on the public broadcasting service – a project supported by the Delegation in order to help pupils catch up with classes during the home confinement period. In a couple of interviews, the Ambassador explained in detail the EU financial assistance provided to the country in the context of Covid-19, as well as the EU’s commitment to the enlargement process even in the time of crisis.
The programme recalled the eco-heroes from our neighbourhoods – part of the EU Delegation’s campaign that resulted in a series of cleaning actions around the country last year under the slogan “Chisto kako doma isto” (Keep it clean as if at home).
Ambassadors of EU Member States to North Macedonia conveyed personal greetings to the citizens of the country and journalists - winners of the Delegation’s annual Jean Monnet awards - discussed the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.
The programme was wrapped up with a stay-at-home DJ party.
A ‘bonus track’ were drawings, collages and music with which pupils from Skopje and Prilep congratulated the Delegation on Europe Day.
But this is not all. The EU Delegation will continue marking Europe Day throughout the month of May. There will be more students’ debates, also with participation of ambassadors from EU Member States, and a cross-border one to be organised with the Delegation in Albania. Stay home & stay tuned!