President Gjorge Ivanov called for reconciliation, forgiveness and unity for the spiritual renewal of Macedonia in his speech on occasion of the visit of Pope Francis to Skopje on Tuesday.

I complete my mandate as President by welcoming You to the Republic of Macedonia. The truth is that You come in a time when the Macedonian society is deeply divided, and the Macedonian country is heavily wounded by broken promises, unfulfilled expectations and faltering trust in the international community. The decades of blockades on our European path led to political and moral crises which diminished our spiritual immunity and eroded the true and lasting values. The cross and crescent, the church and the mosque are being misused as borders and fortresses to mark and defend some kind of imaginary territories. It seems we forget that we are all people, regardless of our belief. Even though I am an Orthodox Christian, as President of a secular country, I represent all citizens, regardless of their religious and ideological beliefs and their ethnic and linguistic identity. Therefore, symbolically, as a Macedonian, I asked you to come to Macedonia and help us in the spiritual renewal of our fatherland.

At the end of his address, President Ivanov sent a message to the citizens:

I call upon all citizens of Macedonia to recognize the symbolism of this visit and with humility and forgiveness, reconciliation and unity, with responsibility and respect, to take part in the spiritual renewal of Macedonia, before it is too late.