S&D MEP and PES President Sergei Stanishev spoke on behalf of European socialists and democrats to thousands of people who rallied this Sunday in FYR Macedonia’s capital Skopje to express their disapproval of the current situation in the country. He also paid tribute to those who lost their lives during the recent terrorist attack in Kumanovo.

The day before Stanishev sent a letter to PES member parties’ leaders informing them of his attendance to the rally where he went together with S&D MEPs Knut Fleckenstein and Richard Howitt. ‘PES is deeply concerned about growing tensions in the country. We have long supported Macedonia’s efforts to join the EU and NATO and we have always promoted and advocated for rule of law, media freedom and independence of the judiciary. Аs friends and partners we have also expressed our concerns about the ongoing political crisis. However, the government has not made any progress yet towards accounting for the many allegations of its wrongdoings arising from the disclosures of our sister party’, Stanishev said in the letter.

Stanishev joined the rally to express the solidarity of the Socialist family with PES Associate member SDSM and its leader Zoran Zaev who have triggered the democratic voices in society.

‘I came here not to lecture, but to hear your voice. And your voice is a strong call for peace’, Stanishev said speaking from the podium. He said he was glad to see people of different ethnic backgrounds standing up for their freedoms. ‘I want you to know that the EU hears your voice. I saw the civil society in Macedonia reborn today and nobody can turn a blind eye to it anymore. You are the ones who are important’, Stanishev added.

In his speech he also touched on the attempts of the government of Gruevski to manipulate media in the country. ‘We must not allow such attacks on freedom of speech’, the socialist leader said.

Sergei Stanishev also congratulated SDSM leader Zoran Zaev for the courage to tell the truth. Switching from English to Bulgarian in his concluding remarks, Stanishev said: ‘Dear friends, brothers and sisters, we love you! We want to see a prosperous Macedonia in the EU. Have courage!’