UMD Statement on Australia’s Foreign Minister Visit to Macedonia

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) congratulates Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for initiating a timely and historic visit to Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia from 9 – 15 July 2017. It will be the first official visit by an Australian Foreign Minister to Croatia and Macedonia.

In Macedonia, Australia’s Foreign Minister will meet with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues.

The biggest roadblock to advancing bilateral relations has been Australia’s shameful policy of segregation, institutional discrimination and de-legitimisation of the Republic of Macedonia’s constitutional name and its 100,000 strong diaspora and poor economic and diplomatic engagement by not having an Embassy in Skopje as Australia has in Croatia and Serbia.

As the Australian Foreign Minister is working on developing a new Foreign Policy Strategy, we call on the Australian Government to develop and implement a contemporary, independent and high quality foreign policy on Macedonia based on solid evidence, ethics, social justice, solidarity and strategic partnerships. It must also be free from the corruptive influence of foreign political donations and domestic pressure groups embedded in the major political parties in Australia.

UMD supports the Australian Government’s agenda of developing a rigorous and relevant Foreign Policy Strategy that will better meet the needs of all Australians including the Australian Macedonian community.

In our submission to the Australian Foreign Policy White Paper, we call upon the Australian Government and the Australian Parliament to finally recognise the Republic of Macedonia by its legitimate constitutional name as has been done by 137 nations at the UN. We call upon Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten MP to show how much direct and indirect funding their parties have received from Hellenic sources since 1994 in order to segregate, delegitimise and discriminate against the Republic of Macedonia and against Macedonians living in the Hellenic Republic, in Australia and globally. Finally, we called upon Australia’s political leaders to formally apologise to Macedonia and its people around the world for this shameful, unethical, illegal and unsustainable foreign policy position that has harmed Australia’s national and international reputation and undermined peace, international laws and regional stability in Southeast Europe.

Australia has violated the most basic human right, namely the right to self-determination. We remind the Australian Government of the obligations which it has undertaken as signatory to the most important binding human rights documents in the history of mankind, which emanate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 1 of both Covenants stipulates that: “All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

So too, the Macedonian people have the right to their self-determination, including to freely determine their political status, which includes determining the name of their country, and to freely pursue their economic social and cultural development. The Macedonian people have the sole right to determine the name of their country, their language and their ethnic and national identity.

The Australian Macedonian community stands ready to work with the Australian Government and the Australian Parliament to actively promote the bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and grounded in strategic, economic and security cooperation.