UMD Urges President Trump to Push Prime Minister Tsipras to Unblock Macedonia’s NATO Membership

On October 16, 2017, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump prior to his scheduled meeting with the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Alexis Tsipras at the White House today urging him to push Prime Minister Tsipras to unlock Macedonia’s well-deserved NATO membership. UMD also urged President Trump to ensure a high-level American delegation visit to the Republic of Macedonia as soon as possible.

The President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Re: Meeting with Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Alexis Tsipras

Dear Mr. President:

We here at United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) strongly urge you to advocate for the Republic of Macedonia’s NATO membership during your upcoming meeting with the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Alexis Tsipras. Since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1995, the United States has readily supported the Republic of Macedonia’s aspirations for full integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. In turn, the Republic of Macedonia has been a staunch ally and supporter of the United States in many of its international ventures, including in Afghanistan. However, all of this has also taken place in the context of the Republic of Macedonia’s consistent mistreatment from its southern neighbor, the Hellenic Republic.

This mistreatment can be traced back to the origins of the Hellenic Republic’s dispute over Macedonia’s use of its constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia. After an unwarranted and crippling 18 month-long trade embargo in the mid-1990s, the Hellenic Republic pledged in a 1995 agreement to not block the Republic of Macedonia’s NATO membership as long as it attempted to join this organization under the UN negotiated provisional name for the Republic of Macedonia, which the Hellenic Republic accepted, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Republic of Macedonia begrudgingly acquiesced to these conditions, and began undertaking the arduous process of institutional reform that is necessary for NATO membership.

After nearly 15 years, the Republic of Macedonia had successfully implemented these reforms and was fully expectant to join NATO in 2008. However, the Hellenic Republic blocked the Republic of Macedonia’s NATO membership, despite the Republic of Macedonia’s total compliance with the 1995 agreement. The injustice of this decision by the government of the Hellenic Republic was affirmed by the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the matter in 2011, in which it stated that the Hellenic Republic’s blocking of the Republic of Macedonia’s NATO membership was a blatant violation of this agreement. In addition to this flagrant violation of international law and norms, the Hellenic Republic also continues to deprive its own Macedonian minority of various human rights, including freedom of religion.

In light of these stark realities, UMD contends that the Hellenic Republic should not be rewarded with various political concessions that Prime Minister Tsipras will undoubtedly ask of the United States during your upcoming meeting. The Hellenic Republic clearly sees itself as a regional leader. However, if the Hellenic Republic wishes to be treated as a regional leader, it must first act like one; and leadership on the global scale means abiding by the international institutions and norms that define our global community.

President Trump, you have the unparalleled responsibility of defending the integrity of NATO as an institution and ensuring that it serves the broad interests of the Euro-Atlantic community, rather than the narrow interests of a single member-state. Specifically, UMD beseeches you to urge Prime Minister Tsipras to lift his block of the Republic of Macedonia’s NATO membership, as a sign that the Hellenic Republic is serious about being a regional leader and a law-abiding global citizen. You can also further the integrity of NATO and demonstrate the United States’ commitment to expanding its influence by ensuring a high-level American delegation visit to the Republic of Macedonia. The last time a Secretary of Defense visited the Republic of Macedonia was a decade ago, and it has been almost 15 years since a Secretary of State visited.

We look forward to your leadership on this important issue and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.

Sincerely yours, in partnership and in liberty,

Metodija A. Koloski
President

CC:
Michael R. Pence, Vice President of the United States
Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State
James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense
A. Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Jonathan R. Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Hoyt B. Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Matthew Palmer, Director, Office of South Central Europe
Jess L. Baily, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia
Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic
Elaine M. Hensle, Macedonia Desk Officer, U.S. Department of State
Wendy Stancer, Greek Desk Officer, U.S. Department of State
Co-Chairs, and Members, Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans