Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Radmila Shekerinska received a high French decoration, the National Order of Merit of France. On behalf of the President of the Republic of France, the Order was awarded to Minister Shekerinska by Geneviève Darrieussecq, Minister of State, attached to the Minister for the Armed Forces of France, at a reception in honour of the Minister, at the residence of the French Embassy in Skopje.
In her speech at the merit award ceremony, Minister Darrieussecq said that, as the first member of the government coming to Skopje since the taking of office of President Emanuel Macron, on behalf of the French government she brings a message of friendship and cooperation, and elaborated on the decision to award the Order to Minister Shekerinska:
- As a longstanding great friend of our country, you have deserved this decoration founded by General De Gaulle, which is awarded for the most distinguished civil achievements. After all, you have excellent knowledge of our language. This decoration is awarded to you for your talent and values that are recognized, both in your country and in Europe as well – said Darrieussecq.
Darrieussecq noted that the gaining of the candidate status for Macedonia during Shekerinska’s term as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Integration in 2005, was the moment when Shekerinska gained “valuable experience and full international recognition”.
The French Minister of State, attached to the Minister for the Armed Forces, also acknowledged the Government and said that the new authorities have returned the country to the path of European integration, and also mentioned the events of 27 April in the Assembly.
- I am not going to speak much of the events of 27 April 2017. In the difficult times you were always ready to undertake the biggest responsibility. Now in the new Government you have a great responsibility in a key area. It is little when we mention that we appreciate the significant contribution that you give, through the highest state organs for the security and defence of freedoms on our continent – said Darrieussecq.
Expressing gratitude for the honour, Minister Shekerinska said that she accepted the honour on behalf of her country Macedonia, its people and on behalf of the Government.
- I accept this honour on behalf of my country, Macedonia and its people. On behalf of all citizens who are Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Vlachs, Roma, Bosnians and others. The praiseworthiness is theirs due to their energy, their ambition, patience and hope. The energy must continue in spite of everything. The ambition to make changes in our country. The patience to overcome obstacles. The hope that change is possible and depends on us. A great hope that Macedonia is a European country, that our values are European. We have shown political leadership, but they have deserved your compliments with your endurance and courage, with your spirit. I accept the honour on behalf of our Government, Prime Minister Zaev and my colleagues. For their hard work, no regret, no political showdown … over the last 12 months – Shekerinska said.
Shekerinska stressed that Macedonia has made deep reforms and from a country that waits, it has become a country that decides. She quoted President Macron who stated that the only way for progress is if the deeds have been shown, and added:
- We are certain that we deserved the decision by France to support Macedonia in receiving an invitation to join NATO next July and a date for starting negotiations with the European Union. That support is really deserved, and it will be just the beginning of an important, difficult and complex path that needs to be taken, but which is necessary. It will be a support for the whole region, for our neighbours, for all progressive forces on the Balkans. Thank you for the honour and trust shown by the French state and the French nation. I will always wear the Order, proudly and dignified, reminiscent of the values it represents.
The ceremony for awarding the Order to Minister Shekerinska was attended by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, ministers and MPs, ambassadors, journalists, friends and associates.
Minister Shekerinska is the first politician from Macedonia to receive recognition of this rank from the Republic of France. The National Order of Merit of France is awarded for distinguished civil achievements, and was founded in 1963 by General De Gaulle.