April 2, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) commends the Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans (Macedonia Caucus) for hosting its first-ever Congressional briefing last week regarding the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20-21, 2012. Hosted by Reps. Candice Miller (R-MI) and Mike Turner (R-OH), the event, attended by around 50-60 people, provided a look at the upcoming NATO Summit from the perspective of Southeast Europe.
Speakers at the briefing included H.E. Antonio Milososki, former Macedonian Foreign Minister, current Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, H.E. Mitar Kujundzic, Ambassador of Bosnia, H.E. Dr. Zoran Jolevski, Ambassador of Macedonia, H.E. Dr. Srdjan Darmanović, Ambassador of Montenegro, H.E. Roman Kirn, Ambassador of Slovenia, Anton Koliqi, Chargé d’Affaires for the Embassy of Albania, and Vice Skračić, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Croatia. The briefing was a collaboration between the Macedonia Caucus, the United Macedonian Diaspora, and the Southeast Europe Coalition.
Macedonia Caucus Chair Rep. Miller in her opening statement during the briefing expressed her continued support of Macedonia’s NATO aspirations, stating; “If Macedonian troops can be counted on and trusted to guard the NATO tent in Afghanistan, then they should be invited to sleep in the NATO tent as full members of the alliance.”
Rep. Mike Turner, Chair of the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and member of the Macedonia Caucus noted, “NATO not only serves to protect our collective nations but our homeland as well. A key component of this is a robust missile defense system and the continued role of U.S. forward-deployed nuclear weapons in the defense of NATO. These are policies which have kept us and our NATO allies safe from attack.”
“The Congressional briefing shows once again the importance of NATO and the importance of enlargement to the region,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “An open-door policy to enlargement has driven forward progress and reform throughout the region, and abandoning that policy now, in deference to nationalistic agendas in Athens, will only weaken the Alliance. Hopefully, this event sends a strong signal to the Obama Administration that enlargement should be on the agenda at Chicago.”
The event provided an opportunity for representatives to discuss their goals for the upcoming summit. All of the speakers expressed support for membership of Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia in the Alliance, and stressed the importance of maintaining NATO’s “Open-door Policy” going forward, for the long-term freedom and security of Europe.
Despite the one obvious political obstacle to Macedonian membership - namely the Greek government's policy of interference - the speakers remained positive about both the future of the Alliance in the region. Rep. Turner summarized it best, stating; “These nations have a mutual goal of freedom from tyranny and the right to a collective defense. I call on the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to recognize that countries such as Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Georgia should be afforded NATO membership.”