July 13, 2012 – Washington, D.C. and Chicago – A day prior to the NATO Summit, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) held one of its most successful events ever on May 19, 2012 in Chicago, in support of Macedonia’s NATO membership and in honor of His Excellency Dr. Gjorge Ivanov, President of Macedonia. In the backdrop of the Grand Ballroom of the historic Hilton Chicago, the Gala celebrated Macedonian culture, and emphasized the importance of building strong alliances with trusted allies, based on common values and principled defense of Macedonian issues. Attended by approximately 330 people, guests traveled from Canada, Macedonia, Turkey, and throughout the U.S., including Detroit, Florida, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. to take part in the evening.
View pictures by clicking HERE. Pictures by Constance K. Eyeshotcha.com
“We are especially grateful to the United Macedonian Diaspora, the organizer of tonight’s event... Whether they live in the homeland or are part of the Diaspora, Macedonian patriots have always fought and advocated for freedom of Macedonia, just as today with unhidden enthusiasm they promote the truth about Macedonia, and the Macedonians. The Republic of Macedonia’s success is largely due to the dedication of the successful expatriates,” said President Ivanov. “We must never forget that Macedonia’s independence was not only an expression of the will of its citizens, but also realization of the desire and aspiration of Macedonians worldwide.” President Ivanov was presented with a UMD Award by UMD’s Chairman Stojan Nikolov and President Metodija A. Koloski for his public service and promotion of Macedonia, which has earned the enduring gratitude of the global Macedonian Diaspora.
Read President Ivanov's full speech by clicking HERE.
On the topic of the Greek government’s ongoing “name dispute,” President Ivanov added: “The Republic of Macedonia is a Balkan, European and world reality. A reality that cannot be denied, but only accepted. That reality has existed, it exists and it will continue to exist. On issues such as our basic values - identity, language, culture and constitution, indeed, we do not want or need to talk. No one in this world has the right to deny these highest values to others, (they) can only be recognized and respected... No one in this world can deprive us of our identity. We will never accept blackmail. We will never yield to ultimatums.”
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa was unable to attend the Gala to receive the UMD Goce Delchev Award in recognition of his leadership in solidifying Slovenia’s relations with Macedonia. UMD President Koloski presented the Award to Prime Minister Jansa the following morning at the Hilton Chicago before a private audience including Macedonia’s President and members of the Macedonian and Slovenian cabinets. During the Gala, Gala Emcee and UMD Advisory Council Elizabeth Naumovski read the official letter from Prime Minister Jansa, in which he stated, “Your countryman and organizer of the Macedonian national liberation movement at the end of the 19th century, Mr. Goce Delcev, understood the world as a field of cultural competition between the nations. Moreover, we have learned in the last century that we also need cooperation: Healthy competition and partnership are not mutually exclusive, but complementary.”
Click HERE for article on the Award to Prime Minister Jansa.
Turkish Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu gave a moving speech while accepting the UMD Macedonia Friendship Award for his strong support for Macedonia from UMD Advisory Council Member Mark Mitskovski. “I want to thank the United Macedonian Diaspora for the Macedonia Friendship Award, but in my heart, I feel that I am more than only a friend of Macedonia, I feel Macedonian!” said Minister Davutoglu. Minister Davutoglu added that no matter what happened on the international scene that Turkey would always stand by Macedonia, and continue to recognize the country under its constitutional and rightful name.
In a separate meeting held the next day on May 20th with UMD Chairman Nikolov and UMD Advisory Council Member Mitskovski, Minister Davutoglu one more time reiterated Turkey’s unwavering support of Macedonia, and his own commitment to help Macedonia become part of NATO as soon as possible.
Click HERE to watch the video from the Gala including speeches by President Ivanov and Foreign Minister Davutoglu.
The Gala was attended by many dignitaries, including Montenegro’s Defense Minister Dr. Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic, Macedonia’s Defense Minister Fatmir Besimi and Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki, Macedonia’s Ambassadors to NATO Martin Trenevski and the U.S. Dr. Zoran Jolevski, Metropolitan Metodij of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese, Consul Generals and representatives of Serbia, Latvia, Jordan, El Salvador, Uruguay, Honduras, and representatives from the Office of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Senator Mark Kirk, and Congressman John Shimkus.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by pianist Jana Pavlovska, the folkloric dance troupes Biseri and Balkanski Igri, singer Nikola Kostadinovski “Koljo,” and the well-known Chris Bajmakovich and Mak Band. The U.S. and Macedonia national anthems were sung by Kalina and Nevena Neskoski, and Ilce Trajceski. All proceeds raised from the evening went towards UMD’s 2012 charitable, cultural and educational programs.
Click HERE to see Biseri's performance during the Gala.
UMD would like to especially thank the sponsors of the Gala: The Bitove Foundation, Cosmic Development, The Stanwyck Family, Ilitch Holding, Inc., Pella Courier Services, Turkish Airlines, Vosges-Haut Chocolat, The Zafirovski Family, Westchester European Auto Sales, ABS Freight Transportation, Alamo Truck Repair, Boris Nitchoff, Andrew Magliochetti, Lou Vlasho, Vanille Patisserie, and Bourbon Cafe, as well as partners AMSECC, Macedonia 2025, MACE Center, and local Macedonian Orthodox Churches Sts. Kiril and Metodi, Sts. Peter and Paul, and St. Petka.
Learn more about our sponsors by clicking HERE to read the UMD Chicago Gala Booklet, which was given to all guests. UMD strongly encourages supporting our sponsors.
The Gala would not have been a success without the hard work of the UMD Chicago team headed by Chicago representative Natalia Buling and including UMD Advisory Council Member Jerry Naumoff, Alexander Naumoff, Gjoko Sikoski, Dimitar Popov, UMD Board Member Trajko Papuckoski, and Alexandra Betinski. UMD thanks our numerous Gala volunteers for their hard work during the Gala.
Donate to support UMD’s important work for Macedonia and the Macedonian cause by clicking HERE. (Canadians should click http://www.canadahelps.org and search “United Macedonian Diaspora” to donate) – All donations from Canadian and U.S. donors are tax-deductible.