May 3, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – On April 13, 2012, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, in response to deep proposed cuts in U.S. foreign aid to Macedonia. President Obama’s proposed budget allocation for Macedonia in 2013 represents a 42% reduction in funding from 2011, from $27.5m to $14.9m.
UMD President Metodija A. Koloski elaborated on how reductions in the 2013 budget may erode or eliminate the progress already made on a wide variety of development projects in Macedonia. Over the last 20 years, these projects have boosted Macedonia’s economy and democracy, as well as helping the country deal with acute crises, like the illegal Greek trade embargo of the early 90s.
Projects sponsored by USAID have had far reaching impacts on Macedonian society, from new teaching regulations, making teachers more qualified and ready to enter the workforce, to the Macedonia Connects program, which has provided broadband internet to over 550 Macedonian schools, making Macedonia the first all-wireless country in the world. Additionally, great strides forward have been made in business development, tourism, the judiciary, and minority rights programs as a result of USAID funding. UMD believes that with drastic decreases in funding, Macedonia risks eroding these past successes.
“U.S. Aid has been a vital part of Macedonia’s development and growth. Macedonia has promoted stability in the region, and worked diligently in spreading security in the world. Macedonia has been a staunch ally of the United States, and it is time for the United States to remember the contributions of its allies. It is only with restored aid that Macedonia will continue its progress, and transition to a stage of innovation-led growth. Thanks to the support of the U.S., Macedonia has become a beacon of democracy in Southeast Europe, a role model for the region, and we believe further U.S. support will help U.S. interests in Southeast Europe,” stated Koloski.
To read the full testimony, please click here: http://umdiaspora.org/images/UMDTestimony04.13.2012.pdf
Meanwhile, the Greek interest groups in Washington, D.C. have predictably been arguing for exactly the opposite. On April 24, representatives of the American Hellenic Institute submitted testimony to the same subcommittee, asking for no aid whatsoever to be allocated to Macedonia, on grounds related to the Greek government’s obnoxious name dispute tactics.
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