September 19, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – On August 31, 2011, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) bestowed upon the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) Chairman Dr. Yalcin Ayasli its distinguished Macedonia Friendship Award at the Macedonian Presidential Palace in Skopje, in the presence of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Dr. Gjorge Ivanov. The Award was presented by UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov and President Metodija A. Koloski following a meeting with President Ivanov in the presence of Dr. Ayasli’s family.
The UMD Macedonia Friendship Award is given to individuals who have been long-standing friends of Macedonia and the global Macedonian community. Dr. Ayasli has had a keen interest in Macedonia given his grandmother’s heritage from Bitola (Manastir). In 2000, Dr. Ayasli founded the Turkish Cultural Foundation, in 2007, the Turkish Coalition of America. In 2008, TCA entered into a partnership with UMD providing a multi-year grant of $150,000 to UMD. In 2010, TCA sponsored the largest ever Congressional staff delegation to Macedonia. Over the course of the last three years, numerous Macedonian-Americans have visited Turkey through TCA and TCF-sponsored tours.
“It was UMD’s privilege to be able to bestow upon Dr. Ayasli our Macedonia Friendship Award in the presence of President Ivanov,” said UMD Chairman Nikolov. “This Award is not only to give thanks to Dr. Ayasli and TCA for their support of UMD over the last three years, but an Award to the entire Turkish-American community for their outstanding and much appreciated friendship.”
Visting Macedonia for the first time, Dr. Ayasli and his family had the opportunity to visit and explore the beauties of Skopje, Bitola, and Ohrid, and meet with the Bitola Mayor Vladimir Talevski and Ohrid Mayor Aleksandar Petreski. Dr. Ayasli also toured Macedonia’s wine region often referred as the “Napa Valley of Southeast Europe.”
“My family and I are most honored with UMD’s recognition; we are especially proud to have visited the land of part of our roots and learn more about Macedonia and the Macedonian people,” said Dr. Ayasli. “The cultural, political and economic ties between Turkey and Macedonia derive their strength from a shared history and culture. The full European and NATO integration of Macedonia should be a key strategic objective for the United States and the Euro-Atlantic community. In this respect, TCA will continue to help strengthen the voice of the Macedonian-American community.”
“TCA’s grant has helped UMD become the leading Macedonian organization in the United States and the world,” said UMD President Koloski. “As a result, UMD has the necessary tools to better effectively communicate its message, thus more actively, before policymakers, diplomats, and the international community. On behalf of UMD and its entire membership, we thank Dr. Ayasli, his family and TCA for their generous support.”
Since 2008, the TCA-UMD partnership has set a new historic testament to relations between Turkish and Macedonian people and Turkey and Macedonia, carrying on the vision of Ataturk, who Macedonians are proud to note has roots from Macedonia. TCA and UMD’s partnership can be seen not only in the United States but also through the strengthening of Turkey-Macedonia bilateral relations in the last three years, politically, economically and culturally – an excellent model for relations among all Southeast European nations.
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