May 20, 2011 – Toronto, Canada – Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that he will travel to Greece for a bilateral visit on May 28 and 29, 2011. Click HERE to read formal announcement. UMD Board Member and Director of Canadian Operations, Jim Daikos sent a letter to Prime Minister Harper encouraging the Prime Minister to visit Macedonia during his trip to Europe, and to bring up issues of concern regarding Greece’s democracy with Greece’s leadership. Please read full letter below. Click HERE to contact the Prime Minister yourself to encourage him to visit Macedonia.
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
It is with great pleasure that we at the United Macedonian Diaspora (Canada), the voice of the more than 250,000 Canadians of Macedonian heritage congratulate you on your successful election. Your past leadership in steering Canada through the global recession and your current promise to keep the economy your Government’s top priority has given all Canadians greater hope for the future of Canada. We learned today that you will pay an official visit to Greece on the 28th and 29th of May. On behalf of our community, I encourage you to make an official visit to Macedonia given its close proximity to Greece.
UMD (Canada) was pleased to bestow upon you our highest honour, the Goce Delchev Award, last November in Ottawa for your bold and honourable leadership in international affairs. The Canadian-Macedonian community will always remember and be grateful for your September 19, 2007 decision to recognize Macedonia by her constitutional name, solidifying the excellent relationship between Canada and Macedonia.
Our community would greatly welcome your visit to Macedonia during your upcoming European trip. Your historic visit to Macedonia, the first time a sitting Canadian Prime Minister will ever visit Macedonia will give reinvigorated hope and send a clear message to Macedonia’s people that Canada remains a staunch supporter of Macedonia in its efforts to pursue a policy of integration into the Euro-Atlantic community, and in organizations such NATO and the EU.
We wish you a fruitful visit to Greece and hope that you will stress to Greece’s leadership the need to instil true democratic governance of its entire population. As your Government is well-aware, the sizable Macedonian minority in Greece is unfortunately denied the most basic human rights by the Greek Government and the Greek Orthodox Church, including the right to self-determination referring to oneself as Macedonian, the right to freely learn their Macedonian language, and freedom of religion. During your visit to Greece, we hope you will bring up the topic of the right of return to the thousands of Canadian-Macedonians who sought refuge in Canada during and following the Greek Civil War who to this day cannot return to Greece, to their homes, nor be offered restitution of their private properties.
Canada is a beacon of democracy and human rights, and Greece can learn tremendously from the path that Canada has taken to get to where it is today. Canadian-Macedonians are proud to call Canada their home. UMD (Canada) and the over 250,000 Canadians of Macedonian heritage hope you will take this request into consideration as you and your Cabinet plan your visit to Europe. We sincerely look forward to working with you and your Government to improve Canada and the lives of all Canadians, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.
Board Member and Director