Sunday, 21 Aug. 2011 – Canberra, Macedonia – On Thursday, August 18, 2011, the Australia Macedonia Parliamentary Friendship Group in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia hosted a series of events at Parliament House in Canberra to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Macedonian Independence.
The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), represented by Australian Operations Director Ordan Andreevski, Canberra Regional Representative Martin Nikoloski and Sydney Regional Representative Tony Joseski, was pleased to join for the discussions to improve and strengthen Australian-Macedonian bilateral relations.
The Chair of the Parliamentary Friendship Group Stephen Jones MP for Throsby in New South Wales (NSW) and Deputy Chair Luke Simpkins MP for Cowan in Western Australia (WA) welcomed participants from the Australian House of Representatives and the Senate, the diplomatic corps, academic institutions and the Australian-Macedonian community. The special guest at the event was His Embassy Oguz Ozge, the Ambassador of Turkey to Australia. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who is recovering from a successful heart surgery, was represented by his senior adviser on foreign affairs.
During his speech Macedonian Ambassador Pero Stojanovski reflected on the significant progress that Macedonia has made in transforming itself into a modern European democratic state and market economy on its path to full Euro-Atlantic integration. “The Macedonian diaspora has always had a close connection with their home country. They have invested in property, businesses, families, social capital and relationships with people and institutions. In the last 20 years, Macedonia and its diaspora have developed a new, closer and more meaningful relationship based on mutual respect, synergy and strategic partnerships” said the Ambassador.
Ambassador Stojanovski noted that “organisations like the United Macedonian Diaspora and the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee and others have played a positive and significant role over the years in working in partnership with the Australian Parliament, with the Macedonian Parliament and with the media in raising awareness about key issues of concern to the community and to the bilateral relationship. Today’s celebration is testimony of their great work.” The Ambassador concluded by inviting the Australian Government and Parliament to implement the Roadmap for Advancing Australian Macedonian Relations including visits by Australian Ministers and Members of Parliament to Macedonia and vice versa.
UMD Director of Australian Operations Ordan Andreevski stated that the best way to advance the bilateral relationship is through innovation and action: “There is a need for regular high quality conversations and high impact projects involving key stakeholders at all levels.”
Jason Kambovski, on behalf of the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee, reminded the federal members of parliament that “Australia must stop discriminating against the Australian-Macedonian community by abandoning the prefix ‘slav’ which was introduced as a directive by the Keating Government in the early 1990’s.”
The official lunch was attended by Australia Macedonia Parliamentary Friendship Group members including Stephen Jones, Luke Simpkins, Philip Ruddock, Bill Shorten, Michael Keenan, Ken Wyatt, Laurie Ferguson, Dr. Mike Kelly, Wyatt Roy, and Peter Slipper. Associate Professor Mile Terziovski from the University of Melbourne and Associate Professor Danny Ben-Moshe from Victoria University also attended. Young Macedonian professionals from Adelaide, Canberra, Woolongong, Sydney and Melbourne were also present. The Macedonian Community Council of Victoria President Goran Torbakov was also in attendance.
“The momentum in Canberra is building up for positive change in support of the national interests of Australia and Macedonia, especially for regional stability in Southeast Europe,” said UMD Canberra Regional Representative Martin Nikoloski.
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