On October 21, 2011, the top Macedonian daily newspaper Dnevnik published an exclusive interview with Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI), the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans. In the interview conducted by journalist Zana Bozinovska, Congresswoman Miller highlights the strategic importance of U.S.-Macedonian bilateral relations, and the crucial role the large Macedonian-American community in her district, and the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) play in furthering these relations.
Photo is of Congresswoman Miller with current Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
To read the interview in Macedonian, please click HERE.
UMD is pleased to provide the English translation below.
Q: Mrs. Miller why did you decide to engage yourself in issues related to Macedonia in the U.S. Congress? What was your motivation to form the first-ever Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans?
A: Within the U.S., the Macedonian-American community serves as vibrant and valued members of our society. They are school teachers, business owners, doctors and lawyers. In my home state of Michigan, there is also a vibrant community of Macedonian immigrants and Macedonian-Americans. I am proud to know and work side-by-side with them on issues that benefit our state. I am honored to have formed this Congressional group of bipartisan members to further build on the strong friendship the U.S. and Macedonia share.
Q: Did you have support from other members of the Congress? What will be the activities of the Congressional Macedonia Caucus, and how you plan to realize them?
A: The Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members of Congress dedicated to maintaining and strengthening a positive and mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and the Republic of Macedonia, as well as advocate for the concerns and interests of the Macedonia community in the United States.
The mission of the Caucus is to bring awareness to the issues of importance to Macedonian-Americans. Whether it’s organizing briefings for Congressional staff, giving speeches at public events or advocating for legislation, the Caucus would like to serve as a voice to this diaspora in America.
Q: What is your position regarding the name of Macedonia and solution of the dispute with Greece? How can you promote it? Where do you see the solution and how could U.S. help?
A: Macedonia is a beacon of democracy and pursuing freedom. We all agree that a peaceful resolution is the best for harmony in southeastern Europe and I am confident the nations can reach a common ground.
Q: Is there any difference in the foreign policy of President Obama Administration and one of the previous President Bush, regarding Balkans and our country? The impression in Macedonia is that the previous administration was more engaged on our issue.
A: From its inception in 1991, Macedonia has been a critical player in providing stability to the southern Balkans. It was the only republic of the former Yugoslavia to gain independence without bloodshed. It has faced a tough road to independence. From establishing a state to developing good governance to proving itself on the world stage, Macedonia has faced an uphill battle in its quest for freedom. It has done so as a close ally with the United States. And, in turn, the United States has been assisting Macedonia in its development. Since diplomatic relations were established in the mid-1990s, the U.S. has provided Macedonia with over $1 billion in foreign aid. The U.S. is also helping Macedonia with its defense capabilities by encouraging full NATO membership. It is my hope that the U.S. continues its efforts to help nations like Macedonia achieve their long-term goal of full democratic participation on the world stage.
Q: How helpful is the cooperation with UMD in your activities?
A: Since UMD was founded in 2004, it has worked to build strong bipartisan Congressional support for Macedonia. It plays a critical role in educating Members and staff on the issues concerning Macedonia and Macedonians – not just in the U.S. but around the world. Through its work in advocacy, charity and educational programs, UMD is fostering unity among Macedonian people and advancing their cause. I was honored to receive the Macedonia Friendship Award recently from such a worthy organization.
Q: How much do you know about Macedonia? Do you have any personal connection to Macedonia?
A: The state of Michigan has one of the highest populations of Macedonians out of any other state in the U.S. In particular, Macomb County, which is in my Congressional district, is estimated to have 5,000 residents of Macedonian decent. Also, one of Michigan’s top business leaders is a first-generation Macedonian-American. With such a strong Macedonian connection to Michigan and to the 10th Congressional district, I am honored to serve as its key leader in Congress as the co-chair of the Macedonian Caucus.
UMD invites you to take two minutes of your time to send a letter to your member of Congress inviting them to join the Congressional Macedonia Caucus by clicking HERE.
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