Xhaferi on marking 60th anniversary of the Constitutional Court: Freedom of expression is the foundation of the democratic world

The President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia gave a speech on the International Conference marking 60 years of the Constitutional court, organized by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of North Macedonia on the topic “Constitutional-judicial protection of the freedom of thought and public expression”.

Below is the integral text of PM Xhaferi’s address:

Distinguished President of the Assembly  Mr. Mitreski, 

Distinguished MPs, 

representatives of the Government, 

Distinguished President of the Constitutional Court, 

Distinguished Head of the OSCE Mission to Skopje, Kilian Wahl, 

Distinguished excellencies, 

Dear members of the press, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

“But a state exists for the sake of the good life, and not for the sake of life only” said the wise philosopher Aristotle, and this is but one of the many interpretations throughout history, and with regards to the necessity of establishing a functional system of the state.

If we take into consideration that the state system is based on laws, and the Constitutional Court plays the most significant roles in it - protection of human freedoms and rights, and protection of the constitutionality and legality - then, in this great, 60-year jubilee of the Constitutional Court, we will recognize great significance for both the citizens and the state.

In the current developments, the democratic world sees the Constitutional Court as a protector of the highest civilization values: The freedom of public expression of though as a universal right and the opportunity for constitutional and court protection of this right, which is, in fact, the topic of today’s conference. Historic roots are found in the democratic histories of Europe and the USA.

The base of the equality in freedoms and rights of all people is exactly the right to freedom of expression, which is of key importance for the media, as protectors of public interests. And the very fact that in the first two months of this year, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of North Macedonia ascertained violations of the freedom of thought and public expression in a judicial procedure by two journalists, shows that this something that requires our attention.

The freedom of expression of thought is the foundation of the democratic world more than ever, and it should be available and real for all our citizens, no matter who they are, where they work or where they belong.

Dear attendees, 

Not always was like this throughout the history, nor in modern times. But today, especially after reinforcing the international position of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Euro-Atlantic perspectives of the country, it can be seen how this is reflected in the aspect of institutional protection of the key democratic rights.

The Republic of North Macedonia has established itself as an example of a successful multi-ethnic democracy, which applies European values, especially in the area of rights and equality, which today are confirmed as a pillar of peace.
However, it is important to continue with the reform process, so that the Constitutional Court is established in accordance with the strategic determinations of our country. That is, substantial reforms are needed in relation to the method of appointing constitutional judges and the legal regulation of their competences.
Today, the Constitutional Court works freely, according to the personal, professional capacities and integrity of the members, but as a state, it is good to ensure a systemic solution that would be created with expert analysis and consultation with all relevant parties. Because, although it is not a body of the judicial power and within the framework of the constitutional system and it is outside the system of justice, nevertheless, the Constitutional Court can and should have a key role in the protection of human rights and the rule of law.

The first Constitution, as the highest legal act of the state that was adopted after independence in 1991, underwent 8 changes with 36 amendments. It reflects the democratic development of the state, and the citizens rightly see in it and demand that it be a protector of the top benefits of democracy. And there is nothing controversial here. Practice shows that in some European countries, with much more developed democracies, constitutional amendments are frequent and even occur almost every year. Because it is a living matter, and because we must walk side by side with that democratic world to ensure real progress. 

We advance all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, and we do it not for anyone else's sake, but for ourselves. Because we, who have proven to be a successful model of Little Europe and as such the big Europe needs us to develop. For the aspiration of becoming a part of the European family of democratically developed nations and states to become a reality by 2030.

The next step in European integration is necessary for us first at home, for the establishment of an effective rule of law. The first cluster in the negotiation process is "Fundamental values" which refers precisely to human rights and the justice system.

As a government, we are firmly determined towards the realization of the European goal and that is why the Development Sectoral Strategy for Justice (2024 - 2028) has already been adopted as a strategic document with an Action Plan. In it, Priority Area 4 is foreseen: Reform of the Constitutional Court.

I know that there is no perfect model of the state, no one has managed to fully establish it to this day. However, commitments are important, because forward goals are a moving category, and it is commitments that are the driving force of the societies in which we live.
Dear attendees,

It was an honour to speak at the International Conference on the occasion of the 60th anniversary. I believe that you will be encouraged to contribute even more strongly to the advancement of fundamental freedoms and rights, guaranteed by international declarations as well as by the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Thank you for your attention!