April 3, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is pleased to announce that fifty-four members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama, strongly urging his Administration “to make sure that NATO finally offers the Republic of Macedonia its well-deserved formal invitation to join the Alliance during the Chicago Summit,” on May 20-21, 2012.
“The 54 signatures represent the most Congressional support for Macedonia’s NATO bid ever, almost three times more than leading up to the Lisbon Summit. This is not just a letter, but a symbol of growing support for U.S. support for Macedonia and frustration with the status quo,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “It is a testament to the hard work of the Macedonian-American community-at-large over many years. It would not have been possible without citizen activism, such as letters, phone calls, and meetings with Representatives.”
The statement recognizes Macedonia’s contributions to democracy, stability, and security around the world, including NATO missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Presently, Macedonia is the fourth largest troop contributor to ISAF.
“If Macedonian troops can be counted on and trusted to guard the NATO tent in Afghanistan, then they should be invited to sleep in the NATO tent as full members of the alliance,” said Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI), Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans, during a recent Congressional briefing held on NATO enlargement.
At the 2009 NATO Summit in Strasbourg/Kehl, President Obama stated: “I look forward to the day when we can welcome Macedonia to the Alliance. The door to membership will remain open for other countries that meet NATO’s standards and can make a meaningful contribution to allied security.” However, even at the 2008 Bucharest Summit, Macedonia had already met or exceeded those standards, by fulfilling the Membership Action Plan from nine years previous. Instead, Macedonia’s NATO membership was vetoed by Greece, an act the International Court of Justice ruled on December 5, 2011 to have been in violation of international law — i.e. UN Interim Accord between Macedonia and Greece.
Members of Congress called on the President to stand by his words in 2009, stating it is their “strong belief that an invitation to Macedonia to join the Alliance will benefit U.S. national security interests and NATO’s global mission.”
UMD applauds the efforts of Congresswoman Candice Miller, Congressman Michael Turner (R-OH), Chair of the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL), former Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, who have been spearheading this initiative over the last month. UMD also thanks Ambassador Dr. Zoran Jolevski for strengthening the U.S.-Macedonia relationship, especially in the context of NATO.
Among the signatories to the letter are twenty-two (22) Republicans, thirty-two (32) Democrats, the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, twelve members (12) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, eight members (8) of the House Armed Services Committee, seven members (7) of the House Homeland Security Committee, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Democracy Partnership, the Chair and three (3) other members of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and six members (6) from President Obama’s home-state, Illinois. Twenty-three (23) U.S. States were represented out of 50, as well as the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Copies of the letter were sent to Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.