The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), as the voice of close to half a million Macedonian-Americans, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday expressing concern over her bypassing Macedonia for the fourth time when she visits the Balkans next week. UMD believes that this is sending the wrong message to Macedonia and Macedonian citizens and urges the Secretary to reconsider her travel plans.
Below is the text of the letter:
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Subject: Visit to the Balkans
Dear Madam Secretary,
It is our understanding that you will be making an official visit to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, and Serbia next week. On behalf of our nation’s close to half a million Americans of Macedonian heritage, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) strongly urges you to make an official visit to Macedonia. Your visit next week would be your fourth to the region without visiting Macedonia, which in our opinion sends a negative message to Macedonian citizens.
UMD is most concerned that a U.S. Secretary of State has not visited Macedonia in nearly a decade. The last visit was in 2003 by then Secretary Colin Powell. As you are well aware, Macedonia has been a strong partner of the U.S. and a close strategic ally. Macedonia is the key to stability in Southeast Europe, and every time the U.S. has requested Macedonia’s assistance, Macedonia has unconditionally delivered.
Macedonia has demonstrated its commitment to the U.S. time and again, including Kosovo, Iraq, and in Afghanistan where it is today the 5th largest per capita contributor to our mission there and patrols the Kabul headquarters of ISAF.
UMD hopes that you will visit Macedonia on what is to probably be your last visit to the region as U.S. Secretary of State. Your presence would send a reassuring positive message to the Macedonian citizens that they are on the right path towards Euro-Atlantic integration despite some challenges, and that their efforts to join NATO and the EU are strongly supported by the U.S.
Metodija A. Koloski