On the occasion of Independence Day (8 September), PM Zoran Zaev, was among those who delivered an address at the event in Skopje’s City Park. As he said, the country has made quite a progress, adding that it is an example for all others. “The language is used freely everywhere, our identity is confirmed and strengthened. Our citizenship is Macedonian. Both today and every next year, I’m sending gratitude to our fellow citizens that showed friendly and brotherly understanding. These bridges we build today are the bloodstream of our joint future,” the PM stated. According to him, Macedonia’s biggest problems are in the past. “If we think rationally, we lose nothing. It’s up to us how much we will achieve in the future. The biggest problems are behind us, while the path guarantees to us a better tomorrow,” the PM underlined. EU Ambassador Samuel Zbogar was one of the guests during the event. He attended the whole ceremony together with ministers, mayors, MPs, citizens and other ambassadors. Zbogar joined the oro (folk dance) when the Macedonian Girl (Macedonsko devojce) song was played. “I couldn’t resist joining oro for my favourite song – Makedonsko devojce,” he tweeted afterwards. The holiday was marked at many locations throughout the capital and country, too, with a lot of activities, including the presentation of the 8 September state award. This year’s winners were wrestler Tome Kocev, sports doctors Slobodan Nikolic, kayaker Atanas Nikolovski and footballer Koco Dimitrovski, Vardar’s legend. On the same occasion, congratulatory messages were sent by many politicians and parties, including Zaev himself, President Stevo Pendarovski, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, his party itself and DOM. Ex-PM Nikola Gruevski extended congratulations as well. Messages arrived also from the international community. “On behalf of the United States government and the American people, I offer my regards to the people of North Macedonia as you mark 28 years of independence. As we celebrate the historic Prespa Agreement, we continue to work hand-in-hand to support North Macedonia’s aspirations to join NATO and the EU. Your continued dedication to democratic principles and the rule of law contributes not only to North Macedonia’s future, but also to peace and security in the region. We look forward to welcoming you as our 30th NATO Ally,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. The EU’s Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, too, was among foreign politicians who sent a congratulatory message on the same occasion. President Stevo Pendarovski received a message from French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta. Congratulating Pendarovski and Macedonia’s citizens, the French President writes that the year has been marked by the Prespa Agreement’s entry into force and the signing of the NATO Accession Protocol, adding that the draft-law that will enable its ratification has already been submitted to French Parliament, which should voice a stand very soon.