UMD Kicked-Off 10th Anniversary Weekend With LoC Lecture and White House Briefing

During the weekend of October 17-20, 2014, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) celebrated its 10th anniversary. UMD delegates from throughout the United States and Canada descended on Washington, D.C. for series of meetings and events prior to the closing Gala marking this milestone in UMD’s existence as the professional voice of Macedonians worldwide.

On Friday, October 17, 2014, the Library of Congress (European Division), in partnership with UMD hosted a noon lecture titled “The Search for Modern Macedonian Ethnic Identity,” with Syracuse, New York-based author Dr. Ernest Damianopoulos. Dr. Damianopoulos, an academic himself with years of research experience, discussed his book, “The Macedonians: Their Past and Present,” which integrates evidence from history, anthropology, sociology, and genetics. Moderated by the Head of the European Reading Room, Mr. Grant Harris, the presentation by Dr. Damianopoulos was well attended not just by UMD representatives, but also by Washington, D.C.-based academics and even garnered interest from members of the Greek-American community as well, which produced a very interesting question and answer session. UMD Chairman Mr. Stojan Nikolov was instrumental in helping to arrange the lecture.

Next, UMD hosted a special lunch briefing at its offices with the U.S. Department of State Office of South Central Europe Director and Deputy Director, Mr. Thomas K. Yazdgerdi and Stephen Banks, respectively. UMD Board Members, Advisory Council Members, Regional Representatives, and guests engaged with the speakers on a wide range of topics, from the U.S.-Macedonia bilateral relationship, Greece’s dispute over Macedonia’s name, Macedonia’s efforts to join the EU and NATO, economic development, domestic reforms, to Diaspora engagement in the homeland.

Later on, UMD’s delegation was welcomed to the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building for a special briefing on the U.S.-Macedonia Strategic Partnership. White House National Security Council Director for Outreach, Mr. Matt Nosanchuk welcomed the delegation, and National Security Council Director for Balkans, Black Sea, and Caucasus, Ms. Sammie Smith conducted the briefing.

The day ended with a pre-Gala reception hosted by the Embassy of Macedonia’s Charges d’Affaires Mr. Oliver Krliu. Over 100 guests attended the lovely evening featuring Macedonian hors d’ouvres and special Macedonian wines compliments of AG Mac Old World Import/Export and Bovin winery. UMD’s reception was a featured event of the Global Diaspora WeekMr Krliu praised UMD’s role in uniting Macedonians and ensuring our community has a voice in Washington, D.C. During the evening, UMD Co-Founder and President Mr. Metodija A. Koloski surprised UMD’s Chairman Mr. Stojan Nikolov, Co-Founder/Vice President/Advisory Council Chair Mr. Aleksandar Mitreski, and UMD Advisory Council members and UMD 10th Anniversary Gala Co-Chairs Mr. Christos T. Antoniou and Mr. Mark B. Mitskovski with recognition plaques for their long years of dedication and commitment to UMD.

Pictures by Lidija Muscolino can be viewed by clicking HERE.

On Saturday, October 18, 2014, UMD hosted a “State of the UMD” special briefing of the last 10 years of global advocacy, and the future of UMD. Spearheaded and moderated by UMD U.S. Operations Director Trajko Papuckoski, the day began with a breakfast briefing featuring Macedonian Member of Parliament responsible for North and South America, Mr. Pavle Sazdov, and Macedonian Agency of Emigration Director, Mr. Vasil Naumov. Mr. Sazdov and Mr. Naumov discussed their roles and the services Macedonia offers to Diaspora, particularly Macedonian citizens abroad. A vibrant question and answer session followed on topics like Diaspora right to vote, passports, registration of Diaspora at police stations in Macedonia, media freedom, judicial reforms, LGBT community rights, and efforts of Macedonia’s government to improve its image abroad on foreign policy issues, particularly through its diplomatic services.

The “State of the UMD” featured brief presentations by UMD Chairman Nikolov, UMD President Koloski, UMD Vice President Mitreski, UMD Secretary Mr. George Peters, UMD U.S. Operations Director Papuckoski, and UMD Cultural Awareness Director Ms. Vera Najdovska. Following, presentations were conducted by UMD regional representatives Mr. Dimitar Nasev (California), Mr. Mishko Josifov (Florida), Ms. Ana Dukoska (New Jersey), Ms. Vera Arsova (New York City), Ms. Konstantin Nakovski (Ohio), and Zhikica Pagovski (D.C./VA/MD) about UMD’s activities in each location. For more detailed information, please contact Mr. Papuckoski at [email protected]

Last but not least, UMD re-launched its next generation program of leaders Generation “M,” which featured a detailed presentation by George Washington University student and former UMD Fellow, Mr. Aleksej Demjanski, Ohio State University student, Mr. Mario Hristovski, and University of Cincinnati student and former UMD Fellow, Mr. Filip Jotevski. Demjanski, Hristovski, and Jotevski discussed Generation “M” getting involved at university campuses, and doing service trips to Macedonia to give back to our homeland. Upcoming projects include a Canadian launch, as well as a leadership conference for Macedonian students and professionals in Spring 2015. For more detailed information, please e-mail [email protected]

On Monday, October 20, 2014, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce organized a special roundtable discussion on Macedonia’s investment opportunities, in conjunction with UMD’s Economic Development Program and Invest in Macedonia. Macedonian Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr. Mile Janakieski, and Macedonian Minister for Foreign Investments, Mr. Jerry Naumoff (who is an Honorary Member of UMD’s Advisory Council), detailed Macedonia’s business-friendly climate, from manufacturing, to energy, to tourism and hospitality sectors. The roundtable was well attended by representatives of U.S. companies looking to expand operations in Macedonia and Southeast Europe. UMD Chairman Nikolov, UMD President Koloski, and UMD Advisory Council Member, and Honorary Consul of Macedonia to Florida, Ms. Dana Klein attended.

UMD thanks everyone who traveled from far away to attend these special 10th anniversary events, which further UMD’s goal of being at the forefront of global Macedonian issues. UMD’s future looks very promising thanks to the support of UMD dedicated members and friends worldwide.