A total of 135 nations have already recognized Macedonia by its rightful and constitutional name, which is about two-thirds of the United Nations General Assembly.
Under the rule of international law, there is no precedent granting to any government the power or authority to dictate to an independent sovereign nation what its name should be.
As established by the U.N. Committee on Human Rights, worldwide diplomatic recognition of the state of Macedonia under its constitutional name the “Republic of Macedonia” is indispensable, just, and mandatory.
We call on the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and those nations who have not yet done so, to formally convey full diplomatic recognition to Macedonia under its constitutional name, the “Republic of Macedonia.”
UMD reiterates its unwavering support for retention of the one and only constitutional and rightful name of Macedonia, rejects all attempts to change or impose any other name upon Macedonia and the Macedonian people, and calls upon the Macedonian government to cease the ongoing UN talks and to submit a resolution before the UN General Assembly to be re-admitted to the UN under its one and only constitutional and rightful name — the Republic of Macedonia.
The right to self-determination was granted to every individual in the world through the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Under the Framework Convention on National Minorities, each person has the right to identify themselves with a minority group (or not), and each group has the right to decide whether it would like to preserve its own group identity, including customs, traditions, language and religion.
Although Macedonians have an independent nation-state, the Republic of Macedonia, hundreds of thousands still reside in neighbouring countries – territories that were once part of geographical Macedonia. Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, and Serbia are home to sizable Macedonian national minorities of diverse religious backgrounds, including Macedonian Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim, however ethnically they self-identify as Macedonian. These populations never migrated to the neighbouring countries, but have always been there for centuries and as a result of different Treaties and creation of borders, they now reside outside of the territory of the Republic of Macedonia.
In order for the governments of Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia to solidify their claim on parts of geographical Macedonia, during and following the Balkan Wars, massive ethnic cleansing, assimilation and discrimination policies were implemented on the local Macedonian ethnic population. As a result, thousands fled their homes for refuge in other countries, many far away, never being able to return. During the Greek Civil War (1944-48), 44,000 children between the ages of 2 and 14 were put on trains, separated from their parents, and sent to destinations such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Yugoslavia. Laws were passed in Greece in the early 1980s prohibiting the right of return to these Macedonians, the right to Greek citizenship, and the right to reclaim their private properties; these laws still remain in effect till today.
Macedonian Minority in Albania
In Albania, the Macedonian minority is recognized only in the Prespa region (according to the Census as only 5,000 individuals) and they reside in “reservation-style” villages, with little access to proper roads and basic necessities, thus forcing many to migrant to larger cities in Albania. However, it is estimated that over 200,000 Macedonians reside throughout Albania, alongside the border with the Republic of Macedonia and in the capital city of Tirana. Macedonians outside of the Prespa region are not recognized as part of the Macedonian minority.
Macedonian Minority in Bulgaria
In Bulgaria, there is no such thing as a Macedonian, let alone a national Macedonian minority group according to the Bulgarian government and civil society. Bulgarians consider Macedonians as Western Bulgarians, and thus do not recognize a separate Macedonian identity or language. “One nation in two states,” is the Bulgarian unofficial, or one can argue even official, policy on Macedonia and Macedonians. It is estimated that over a million Macedonians reside in Bulgaria, mostly in the Pirin region in Southwestern Bulgaria. Macedonians in Bulgaria do not enjoy basic freedoms such as the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.
Macedonian Minority in Greece
In Greece, it is a taboo topic to even mention that you are Macedonian or that you come from Macedonia. The Greek government and the Greek Orthodox Church have ensured that Macedonian national identity cannot flourish in Greece, that the Macedonian language (which to them does not exist and only exists as a pseudo-Greek dialect) cannot be spoken publicly, that no Macedonian cultural centers can be formed, and no Macedonian Orthodox Church can be established. The European Court of Human Rights have found Greece in violation of numerous minority rights treaties for their policies on the Macedonian minority, but however, Greece continues to discriminate against Macedonians in Greece, which are estimated to be more than 600,000.
Macedonian Minority in Kosovo
Kosovo, as a new country, has problems establishing their own nation-state and mostly cater to the interests of the majority Albanian population. Approximately 45,000 Macedonians of Muslim faith reside in the Gora region of Kosovo.
Macedonian Minority in Serbia
Serbia has a more liberalized viewpoint on the Macedonian minority in the country, however much work remains to be done to provide equal access to language instruction in the school system and the right to practice Macedonian Orthodoxy, which is not recognized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbian state, which should be separate of the views of the Serbian Orthodox Church, must allow the existence of Macedonian Orthodox faith-practice in Serbia.
UMD maintains a very active civil rights program, including educating the public on the challenges that Macedonians face in these countries, particularly in EU and NATO member-states.
We encourage local leaders in the Macedonian communities in the neighbouring states of the Republic of Macedonia to continue fighting for equal civil rights as equal citizens of those countries.
UMD supports increased EU-Macedonia relations and the new Dialogue, however, urges the European Council to act in accordance to the recommendations by the other EU institutions and grant Macedonia its rightful date to start accession talks.
Macedonia applied for EU membership in 2004, and after a positive recommendation by the European Commission, Macedonia was granted candidacy status in 2005. In order to join the EU, Macedonia has to fulfill the Copenhagen criteria, which is a broad spectrum of requirements including political, economic and legal reforms.
Since Macedonia became an EU candidate, the European Commission and the European Parliament have recommended that the EU open membership talks with Macedonia. The recommendations stress that Macedonia has made “convincing progress” in police reform, tackling corruption and bolstering human rights.
In addition, since December 19, 2009 Macedonians no longer need visas to visit most EU member states – those in the Schengen zone. Although Macedonia has met the requirements to receive a date to start accession talks, and despite three positive progress reports and European Commission recommendations, the European Council has failed to grant Macedonia its date as a result of pressure by Greece.
The EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle launched a High Level Accession Dialogue (HLAD) on March 15, 2012 in Skopje in order to enhance the support of the European Commission for Macedonia’s accession process by ensuring a structured, high-level discussion on the main reform challenges and opportunities. The Dialogue provides support by focusing on key reform priorities. “It does not replace accession negotiations but it forms a bridge to them,” said Commissioner Füle when launching the Dialogue.
UMD urges NATO to put aside Greece’s objections over Macedonia’s name, prevent bilateral disputes from becoming NATO membership criteria, and invite Macedonia to join the Alliance as soon as possible.
Macedonia has shown a steadfast commitment to joining NATO for almost 20 years, satisfied all military and civil criteria – a goal supported by over 90% of its population. Throughout the past two decades, Macedonia has made numerous valuable contributions to NATO, including combat troops under NATO command. Macedonia, a net exporter of security, has been an active participant in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, making it the fourth highest ISAF troop contributor per capita. Macedonia has hosted the logistical support center for NATO’s Kosovo Mission (KFOR) since 1999, providing safe refuge to over 360,000 Kosovar refugees during the conflict. Macedonia has also contributed to other multilateral missions in Bosnia, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Macedonia is strategically located in Southeast Europe – a unique gateway for rapid NATO troop deployments to the Middle East and North Africa in order to maintain broader regional stability.
At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, Macedonia having met all MAP requirements anticipated an invitation to join NATO, however, Greece vetoed Macedonia’s accession into NATO thus violating the UN Interim Accord. As a result Macedonia took Greece to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The December 2011 judgment by the ICJ clearly confirmed that Greece’s actions in 2008 were in violation of international law and were expressly prohibited by Article XI of a 1995 United Nations-brokered Interim Accord, which normalized relations between both countries.
Canada, through statements by Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, has openly called for a “consensus minus one” approach, in order to reduce domestic affairs like Greece’s problem with Macedonia’s identity becoming obstacles to NATO membership.
Greece’s hostile complaints about Macedonia’s name are no more than a political distraction to cover up its domestic misdeeds and to silence the ethnic Macedonian minority in northern Greece. Given the recent ICJ ruling, and the fact that Macedonia has met all NATO membership criteria, the Chicago Summit on May 20-21, 2012 provided the perfect moment to invite Macedonia to join the Alliance, and send Greece a strong message that regional security, stability, integrity and the rule of law come first. Unfortunately, this did not occur.
Macedonians have a saying “There are more Macedonians outside of Macedonia.” For centuries, Macedonians emigrated from the homeland due to conflicts, wars, genocidal/discriminatory acts, and political and economic problems facing our people, homeland, and wider Southeast Europe region.
Given our own immigrant experience, the Macedonian people recognize that upholding the rights of immigrants is vital to a strong nation wherever Macedonians reside. UMD promotes fair and just immigration policies and works in collaboration with other ethnic communities to advance such policies.
During the month of June, UMD highlights stories of Macedonian immigrants in conjunction with Immigrant Heritage Month organized by Welcome.us. Macedonians have helped make up and advance the fabric of our local communities.
In regards to Macedonian citizens in the homeland, UMD advocated for Macedonia to be successfully placed on the visa liberalization program of the EU in 2009, and is working to ensure Macedonia enjoys visa-free travel to other parts of the world, including Australia, Canada, and the United States.
Macedonia – a Unique Gateway to Southeast Europe
Macedonia is an ancient land with a rich history and striking natural beauty. It is also an emerging economy with a wealth of untapped business potential. Rich in natural resources, Macedonia offers opportunities for profit in strategic sectors such as agriculture, banking, energy, transportation, mining, tourism, telecommunications, information technology, research, textiles, and manufacturing.
The combination of highly educated labor force with competitive wages, a strategic location, competitive tax rates, a stable monetary and fiscal policy, and free trade deals with Europe, are all incentives for direct foreign investment in Macedonia. Efforts to boost productivity and competitiveness both in the private and public sector have included market liberalization, privatization of state-own enterprises, judicial reforms, and government-sponsored incentives for foreign businesses.
UMD seeks to educate foreign investors and tourists by highlighting all that Macedonia has to offer as a business and leisure destination, in hopes of facilitating commerce, strategic partnerships, and investment.