Selaković and Pendarovski in the Prohor Pčinjski Monastery
The celebration of this important date for Serbia and North Macedonia was attended by delegations of two countries, led by Macedonian President Steva Pendarovski and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nikola Selaković, in the capacity of the representative of President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić.
After laying wreathes on the commemorative plaque of the first Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) in the chapel of the Prohor Pčinjski Monastery, Minister Selaković told reporters that today’s joint celebration showed Serbia and Macedonia to be good neighbours and good friends, and that it was very important that we improve our good neighbour relations.
“Today's date, 2 of August, is an important historical date for both our peoples, commemorating previous generations which have left a mark in the history of both our peoples”, said Minister Selaković.
He said that the Prohor Pčinjski Monastery was a sacred place which safeguarded and preserved the tradition during an entire millennium, and noted that the last year marked 950 years of its existence.
Minister Selaković noted that bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Macedonian Orthodox Church were conducting the liturgy for the first time since the start of Second World War.
He added that President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, after his arrival, laid a wreath on a memorial which marked a moment important for the history of the Macedonian people, when the first ASNOM was held in 1944, in the close vicinity of the Monastery, and noted that this was the first time after 18 years this had happened.
“This shows that, by respecting each other and respecting tradition and historical heritage, we are looking to the future and striving to foster the future generations in the spirit of good neighbourly relations and tolerance”, said Minister Selaković.
He stated that this was why he was appointed the representative to President Aleksandar Vučić in order to receive President Pendarovski.
“We have had an opportunity to talk, after laying the wreaths, in the presence of our host, Bishop Pahomije of Vranje, about the future commemorative events in years ahead of us, and acknowledge how much the histories of our peoples are intertwined”, he said.
He highlighted that places on the other side of the border, over the bridge of Brnjak, where the Serbian Army had won a glorious victory in the Kumanovo battle, and further to the south, were important for Serbian history.
“We realized how important it was to agree, on the state level, on the manner and place where the commemorations and celebrations would be held. These are all natural and normal steps after the big steps that Vučić had made by building a policy of unity and a future-oriented policy, which has started to yield concrete results in the Open Balkans initiative”, said Selaković.
President Pendarovski thanked President Aleksandar Vučić and Patriarch Porfirije who, in his words, had made it possible for the Macedonian delegation to visit this sacred place, the Prohor Pčinjski Monastery, to commemorate the most important Macedonian official holiday, Ilinden.
He noted that the historical first ASNOM was held there, and expressed his belief that the fact that the delegation of North Macedonia was commemorating 2 of August in this place was a start of a great tradition. He said he expected it would be continued in the future.
Pendarovski added that he had agreed with Minister Selaković to establish a working group at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries to work on this matter.
He emphasised that the Prohor Pčinjski Monastery played an important role in the context of political and church matters which, in his words, had been resolved in the meantime.
He stated that today's commemoration in the Prohor Pčinjski Monastery was a foundation for new relations that the two countries would forge in the future and for future commemorations of this date.