Building on quality and potential of foreign ministry will continue.
Thank you. I agree that the position of State Secretary is highly responsible but so is my approach. The awareness of the responsibility ahead of us in the coming period is making each and every one of us even more motivated to successfully execute this noble mission in the best interest of our country and people. A priority to me is first of all creating possibilities for timely and efficient handling of the challenges of the Ministry. We will be focused on improving its efficiency and functionality, including its diplomatic network, meeting priorities and making sure Macedonia takes its rightful place in the Euro-Atlantic family of democracies.
Bearing in mind the functionality analyses that you have been making of the Ministry's strategic plan of action, particularly in regard to its internal organization, do you believe that the present organization contributes to efficient fulfillment of the everyday responsibilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a systematization has been enforced that obviously needs to undergo revision, as the issue of manning is typical to all embassies. There is a big difference between reality and what has been envisaged with the systematization. I hold that the organization as it is now is suited to the responsibilities of the Ministry yet further thought should be given to the rationalization and reorganization in order to raise the functionality and efficiency of performance in compliance with the directives of the European Commission and the responsibility of the Government with respect to the public administration reform.
Of course, for successful functioning of the Ministry, the capacity of the diplomatic staff is very important. Do you believe that the present staff potential is successfully coping with the challenges of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conducting the foreign policy of the Republic of Macedonia?
For successful diplomacy of countries of Macedonia's size, it is very significant to identity well the priorities of the Ministry and the diplomatic offices. There are many examples that can confirm that the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is capable of handling the challenges. In this regard, I would highlight the preparation of the arguments for the application before the International Court of Justice, to which our colleagues made a notable contribution, then the successful chairmanship of the Council of Europe, the significant contribution of the Ministry as an institution to the visa liberalization, and probably if I go further back in time I could cite many more examples based on which we can conclude that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has quality and potential. Of course, we are going to continue building on this quality and potential, primarily through the Diplomatic Academy where we are going to introduce certain changes and where our younger colleagues will have an opportunity to learn more about the diplomatic skills from their more experienced colleagues. Also, a good start and a step forward in the advancement of the Macedonian diplomacy is also the fact that at the moment some 50 percent of the officials in diplomatic offices of the Republic of Macedonia are professional diplomats, which has not been the case so far.
Very soon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is going to move to a new modern building whereby the accommodation issues of the staff would be resolved to a great extent. At the same time, there is an impression that the activities for expanding Macedonia's network of embassies and consulates continue. Is opening of new representative offices of the Republic of Macedonia planned, in compliance with the projected budget for 2012, and where?
This year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as an institution that has been visited most by foreign guests, is finally going to be housed in its own building that will fully meet the Ministry's specific function - presenting with dignity the country and its people. At the same time, we continue to reinforce the diplomatic network; we are opening new diplomatic missions: after Prague, Tel Aviv and New Delhi, a representative office will be opened in Tokyo as well. We have excellent bilateral relations with Japan yet we estimated that there is even bigger potential for promoting relations between Macedonia and Japan, as well as with the other countries of that region, primarily the economic cooperation, which would of course be greatly assisted by our embassy in Tokyo. In 1995, we had only 20 embassies and consulates and in 2011 a total of 53. That gives an impression of a well established, functional and mature diplomatic network in the service, of course, of the interests of the Republic of Macedonia.