A delegation from the UMD Australia led by Ordan Andreevski and the Macedonian Community Council of Victoria represented by its Vice-president Aleksandar Mojsovski met with the new Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP. The meeting took place at the Minister’s electoral office in Caroline Springs in Melbourne’s western suburbs, which has a significant number of Macedonians in its multicultural mix.
Andreevski explained that ‘Minister O’Connor is a highly respected friend of the Macedonian community and we need more elected representatives to closely follow his footsteps in terms of nurturing ties with Macedonia and its diaspora”.
Minister O'Connor in the past has been supportive of efforts of Macedonia to self-identification as a sovereign nation. "I don't resile from those comments", Mr O'Connor said.
Ordan Andreevski elaborated that the aim of the meeting was to twofold. “First, to congratulate the Hon Brendan O’Connor for being promoted as the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship in the Gillard Government and to thank him for his ongoing engagement with and support of the United Macedonian Diaspora and the Macedonian community in Australia. Second, to discuss ways in which Minister O’Connor can strengthen and deepen the relationship between Australia and Macedonia and between the Australian Government and the Macedonian community”.
Some of the issues that were discussed during the meeting included:
-The need for Australian to finally recognise the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name before the federal election in 2013 and in accordance with the Roadmap for Advancing Australia Macedonia Relations which was calibrated and validated through the Australian Research Council project on the ‘Macedonian Diaspora in Australia: Current and Potential Links with the Homeland’.
-The need for Australia to open an Embassy in Macedonia as contained in the UMD submission to the Inquiry into Australia’s Overseas Representation which is currently under active consideration by the Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr.
-The necessity to introduce visa free travel for Macedonian citizens as is the case in the EU and currently considered in the United States;
-The necessity to streamline the process for qualified Macedonians to close the skills shortage in Australia;
-The opportunity to meet with the Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki who may be on an official visit to Australia in March 2013 and to use the occasion to start the process of signing a Cultural Exchange Agreement between Australia and Macedonia which would allow citizens from each country to work and study for a year as is the case with Turkey.
-The option of organising a Gala Dinner or a Cocktail Reception in Melbourne before the federal election with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Cabinet Ministers from Victoria as special guests of honour. The theme would be ‘Advancing Australia Macedonia Relations and Strengthening Ties with the Macedonian Community.
Minister O’Connor was also invited to visit Macedonia as soon as possible in order to connect with key institutions and leaders and to gain a better understanding of the significant progress that Macedonia has made since gaining independence in 1991.
The United Macedonian Diaspora works in partnership with all current and potential members of the Australian Parliament from across the political spectrum based on their commitment to nurturing closer ties with the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian community of Australia.