President of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Mr. Boris Trajkovski, President of the Republic of Macedonia,
Mr. Ljubco Georgievski, President of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, Your Beatitude, Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia,
Your Excellency Mr. Boutros Boutros Ghali, General Secretary of Francophony, Your Excellencies - Ambassadors,
Ministers and Academicians,
Dear participants, colleagues, guests and friends,
Allow me to open by announcing the commencement of the work of the International Conference on The Balkans in the New Millennium (Science and Culture in a Joint Action for Peace and Development) and by greeting all of you assembled herd in the building of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, both in the name of the Organising Committee and in my own name.
When, in the autumn of the year 2000, we announced today's Conference, on the invitation that followed the first circular from the Organising Committee, more than 60 scientists and scholars worldwide registered as participants. Later on, according to the titles of the subjects which were submitted to us, we saw how the world's scientists and scholars regard the destiny of the Balkans, and the tragic tribulations which it experienced in the last decade of the 20th century, with great moral concern. When, in the spring of this present year, the bloody boots of war began to tread upon Macedonian soil, the number of registered participants decreased, and, in this last month, has been virtually halved. At one moment we even considered postponing the holding of the Conference. Yet you did not hesitate, those of you who remained faithful and are here today as highly regarded participants, in your conviction that there exists an ethical debt on the part of science, scholarship and culture in general to confront the truth no matter whether it be above the ground bass of the rumbling of the guns which have wreaked havoc, and spread suffering and misfortune.
I say this because certain inner prerogatives compel me to express to you, the participants in the Skopje international scientific conference, my recognition of and respect for such not only wise but also courageous persons as you have shown yourselves to be.
We who are taking part in this Conference are perhaps aware today that this scientific and scholarly assembly of ours has a certain historic dimension. I am profoundly convinced that we at this moment of time here in Macedonia are present at the definitive collapse of the all too well-known Balkan nationalisms, despatching them to the rubbishheap of history. These and such ethnocentric and greater-state doctrines have, in the past decade, taken on atavistic dimensions and have taken on an even more brutal form than the well-known Balkan slaughters of the beginning of the 20th century. This gives me a right to say that that which is happening in Macedonia today is not the Balkans in the new millennium, that is to say the Balkans of the future, nor is it even the Balkans of the present, but rather it is first and foremost the Balkans of the past, expressed in the most brutal infringement of a human right, the right to a bare existence, with brutal violence and perfidious killings in order to claim to demand the implementation of greater national rights. In all of this lies the historical irony which is taking place before our very eyes today.
And yet, in spite of all this, I wish to believe that, despite the latest military clashes which are taking place, the old Balkan evil is definitively facing its twilight, that it stands condemned and that it cannot but vanish from the pages of contemporary history. In this lies our great hope.