June 4, 2011 – Washington, D.C. – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), on behalf of our nation’s more than half a million Americans of Macedonian heritage, deeply mourns today’s passing of the 62nd Secretary of State of the United States, Lawrence S. Eagleburger — one of Macedonia’s greatest friends — often referred to as Lawrence of Macedonia. UMD was to honor Secretary Eagleburger with its distinguished International Freedom Award at a celebratory lunch in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2011 during the 3rd Annual UMD Global Conference celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Macedonia’s Independence.
“I first met Secretary Eagleburger at a 2006 Woodrow Wilson Center (where I used to work) event on the former Yugoslavia and the recent publication of declassified archival material by the National Intelligence Council. I remember him as a person who never hesitated to speak his mind,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “Secretary Eagleburger was a champion of American democratic principles, and one of the most vocal advocates for support of Macedonia’s right to self-determination and right to existence; he will remain a legend in U.S. foreign policy.”
Over the past fifty years, Secretary Eagleburger rose to become one of America’s most recognized public servants, tirelessly working for peace and cooperation in the world at large. As an Economics Officer in U.S. Embassy Belgrade from 1962 to 1965, the Macedonian people fondly recall his “Lawrence of Macedonia” nickname, which was given to him for organizing American aid after the 1963 earthquake. This aid created a full-scale United States Army field hospital in Skopje, which was critically needed. Macedonians will always be grateful for his assistance, that of the United States government and the American people during this terrible time. Secretary Eagleburger used his deep knowledge of Macedonia and the Balkan region, and his influence both in and out of government to advance peace and prosperity there as a leading American diplomat in ways that are above and beyond the call of duty.
Later, as U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia in the early 1980s, Secretary Eagleburger built a high level of economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries from which Macedonia benefited substantially. This cooperation laid the foundation for much needed assistance to Macedonia after Yugoslavia dissolved. It also facilitated economic aid and preferential treatment for Macedonian exports during a most difficult period of Macedonia’s early independence.
As President George H.W. Bush’s main advisor on Yugoslavia during the challenging times when Yugoslavia dissolved, Eagleburger eventually became the first and only foreign service career officer to ever be United States’ Secretary of State. More recently, he unequivocally and publicly supported Macedonia’s accession to NATO and spoke out forcefully to keep Macedonia’s identity and territorial integrity intact against any aggression from its neighbors. Particularly noteworthy were his statements warning against territorial aggrandizement at Macedonia’s expense during the decade leading up to Kosovo’s independence. Macedonians recognize Secretary Eagleburger’s noble advocacy on Macedonia’s behalf, but they are especially cognizant of his support urging international recognition of Macedonia and for assistance when the country faced a refugee crisis.
“I remember meeting Secretary Eagleburger for the first time at The Joint United Nations-European Community Conference on the former Yugoslavia held in London in August of 1992 shortly after he was named acting Secretary of State. I was the youngest member of Macedonia’s delegation headed by President Gligorov at the time,” said UMD Council member and former Macedonian Minister for Foreign Investment Gligor Tashkovich who served in the first Gruevski Administration from 2006-2008.
“Secretary Eagleburger served as a de facto voice of conscience in many international situations and his passing will create a void that will be difficult to fill at a time when it is needed the most,” concluded Tashkovich.
In her statement today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also a friend of Macedonia reminded us that Secretary Eagleburger “believed in the strength of America’s values and fought for them around the world. He was outspoken but always the consummate diplomat. Even in retirement, Larry remained a staunch advocate for the causes he believed in. He never stopped caring, contributing, and speaking out.”
UMD extends its deepest condolences to his sister Jean Case, his sons Lawrence Scott, Lawrence Andrew and Lawrence Jason, his three grandchildren, and his long-time assistant Anaïs Haase.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., UMD, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit charity, is a leading international, non-governmental organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians at home and in their communities around the world.