European Western Balkans

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung gives Human Rights Award 2020 to Zoran Zaev

Zoran Zaev; Photo: Government of Macedonia

BERLIN – On the second anniversary of signing the Prespa Agreement, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) announced that former Prime Minister of North Macedonia and President of the Socialist Democratic Union of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, will be awarded the Human Rights Award 2020.

FES stated that it honours Zaev’s personal commitment to the conclusion of the Agreement and his efforts towards a European future and a free and open society.

“The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung presents Mr. Zaev with the award in recognition of his contribution to peace policy, based on the conclusion of the Friendship Agreement with Bulgaria in 2017 and the Prespa Agreement with Greece in 2018. As stipulated in the Prespa Agreement, the name of the country was changed and thus the name dispute finally resolved, so that, after 27 years, the blockade on North Macedonia’s NATO membership and on the start of EU accession negotiations could be lifted”, FES stated in a press release.

It is added that both agreements represent crucial milestones on the way to better living conditions for the citizens.

“With his willingness to make reasoned decisions that not everyone approves of, Mr. Zaev has shown that they are more important to him than his own political fate”, FES stated.

Kurt Beck, Chairman of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, particularly pointed out Zaev’s achievements with regard to Europe: “Mr. Zaev is committed to a free, open and social society. His determined reform policy has not only contributed to peace and stability, but also taken North Macedonia a huge step towards the EU.”

FES reminded that Zaev also played a crucial role during his time as opposition leader.

“During the ‘Colourful Revolution’, he advocated for the rule of law and initiated peaceful re-elections. As Prime Minister, he set new standards, especially in the area of social policy. He raised the minimum wage by 60%, increased social benefits, and improved the salaries of medical staff and doctors”, reads the press release.

The official award ceremony is planned to be held in Berlin later this year. The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s Human Rights Award was first presented in 1994, based on the legacy of Karl and Ida Feist from Hamburg. Last year, it was awarded to Miriam Miranda, a women’s and environmental rights activist from Honduras.

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