April 14, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – The United Macedonian Diaspora (“UMD”) applauds the announcement by Hungarian President Pal Schmitt and Prime Minister Viktor Orban that Hungary firmly supports Macedonia’s immediate membership in NATO and opening of accession negotiations to join the European Union (“EU”). Prime Minister Orban referred to the name dispute between Macedonia and her southern neighbor as “absurd;” effectively, saying that it should not preclude Macedonia’s EU membership. He pledged that Hungary will raise the issue of opening Macedonia’s EU accession negotiations at the next European Council meeting.
Hungary, who holds the current Presidency of the EU, welcomed Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov for a state visit to Budapest this week. The event was of historical significance because it marked the first time a sitting Macedonian President was received for an official state visit to a country holding the incumbent EU Presidency. The state visit was a culmination of the recent strengthening of relations between Hungary and Macedonia, as well as the cooperation between the Hungarian American Coalition and the United Macedonian Diaspora.
Via the November 2010 letter addressed to President Obama, the Hungarian American Coalition, on behalf of 1.5 million Hungarian-Americans, urged the President to encourage NATO member-states to formally extend an invitation to Macedonia at last year’s Lisbon Summit. UMD President Metodija A. Koloski traveled to Budapest in March 2011 and met with both Hungarian Government officials and with Hungarian-Macedonian community leaders. Hungary’s Macedonian community is largely composed of refugees, or their descendents, stemming from the Greek Civil War. During this visit, UMD donated over 150 Macedonian language books to the University of Budapest’s Macedonian language program, which is one of the University’s fastest growing foreign language programs. The book donation event was arranged by Macedonia’s Ambassador to Budapest, Ambassador Darko Angelov along with the Macedonian Agency of Emigration.
“Hungary is a strategic partner for Macedonia and we are pleased and proud that Macedonia has one of its most able diplomats in Budapest,” said Koloski. “UMD looks forward to continuing our collaboration to advance Hungarian-Macedonian relations.”