Recently my country Macedonia has signed a historic agreement with its neighbour Greece. This moment will forever remain a historic one and will serve as a stepping stone for the next generations to come. Although a number of my friends have not yet accepted this fact, I, however, remain optimistic. I have hope for the land I come from and I look forward for this new chapter for my country and fellow citizens. I look forward to having the chance to be exposed to more opportunities and contributing to the betterment of my country. Moreover, I look forward to the days when average Macedonians have a salary that enables them to pay their bills, educate their children and take family vacations. And as a young Macedonian, I hope to be the one that contributes to these positive changes.
Solving the historic issue with Greece means that the country will focus on every day issues that an average citizen is faced with. First, the environmental issues: My vision for Macedonia in the future is that we will have clean air. The city where I currently live in, Skopje (the capital), is so polluted that I actually sometimes question if me and my generation will live past 50 years of age. The excessive construction works in the center of Skopje really contributed to the pollution. Thus, I hope that from now on the government will work on sustainable laws, such as one that obligates these buildings to plant trees on their roofs. Second, the local transportation issue: Currently, the local busses in Macedonia are twice the age than I am. This means they are slow, old, and they hinder the environment. As such, the government needs to focus on improving this issue. In the future, as a EU member state, Macedonia can push for replacing them with electric busses perhaps.
Today, I can safely say that I see my country as a part of the NATO coalition in the future and I fully support that. For me and fellow youth in the country, joining EU and NATO means that we will have more opportunities for education, careers and a secure future. With joining NATO my country could "open up to the world" and start thinking like a developed democracy, not a place where corruption is a daily occurrence. The signed agreement only brought us closer to becoming part of these coalitions! Additionally, with this step Macedonia, together with the other Balkan neighbours, can work together as a united region in the aforementioned coalitions! With solving the name issue with Greece, there will be great improvement in the region because this will be a symbol of getting our differences and prejudices in our past, and working together for a bright future which hopefully the rest of the Balkan countries will follow. Joining the EU and the Schengen zone will contribute to a better mobility for our youth and trading between the countries along with the open market. As a result, Macedonia will be able to access over 500 million citizens to sell its products to!
Further, Macedonia could be one of the most famous tourist countries in the world. Opening the country to the EU market will allow for a larger tourist exposure. Today, people from the developed countries are in search for a more traditional based tourism and Macedonia is a perfect place for that. An example could be the small town of Ohrid, a place of heartwarming people, culture and history! I'm proud of this town and it should be known to others as well.
Consequently, even though this was a difficult process to pass, Macedonia needs to move forward and see what the future brings. Joining the EU and NATO will open new doors for the country and its youth, not just by giving them a new kind of hope for this region and the country, but also by increasing investment and opportunities. As such, people will slowly start settling in Macedonia instead of leaving for other EU countries, so together we can all contribute to the change we all wish for!
Author: Jovica Jankovikj
Jovica is a young activist from Macedonia, who is passionate about youth policy, and environmental protection. Jovica, is the co-founder of the NGO Bezgrubrija, and is a member and activist for two NGOs, Youth Educational Forum(YEF) and YouthCan.
His passion about being involved in the community has been expressed though his participation in numerous activities organized within Macedonia and the Balkan Region. Some of the event he has participated include: The debate tournament EcoContest, EcoPatrol–NGO Zero Waste, Regional Youth Forum in NoviSad, and the 11th Euro–AtlanticCamp(REACT)etc.
Jovica, is a winner of the high school contest hosted by USAID for excellence in outlining a personal vision for Macedonia's future rewarded by US Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia JessL. Baily.