The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) sent a letter today to The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton expressing concerns over the “Slav Macedonian” comments made by the Head of the EU Delegation to Macedonia, Ambassador Aivo Orav during a European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting on November 15, 2012.
UMD believes such comments are counter-productive and hinder on the High-Level Accession Dialogue established between the EU and Macedonia in March 2012 by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Baroness Ashton:
On behalf of the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), which addresses the interests and needs of over 4.5 million Macedonians worldwide, I am writing to express our serious concerns and offense over your Ambassador to Macedonia, Ambassador Aivo Orav’s recent comments during a European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting on November 15, 2012, in which he referred to Macedonians as “Slav Macedonian.”
Establishing relations in 1996, the EU and its representatives should have had by now a full understanding of the sensitivities behind referring to Macedonians as “Slav Macedonian,” which is an infringement on the EU’s own principles of human rights and self-determination. This is not the first time a EU representative has made such a blatant disregard for the sentiments of the Macedonian people. The EU’s Commission has excluded the word “Macedonian” from three of its four progress reports, and has not made any reference to the Macedonian people, identity, or nationhood, which is contrary to how it describes other nations vying for EU membership.
Your Ambassador’s comments hinder on the High-Level Accession Dialogue established by Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule in March of this year. Instead of Macedonia’s society being focused on meeting reforms necessary for EU membership and towards a positive outcome at the European Council December meeting on the possibility of opening accession negotiations for Macedonia, there has been uproar by Macedonia’s political elite, media, and civil society stating that the Ambassador and the EU have no regard or respect for the Macedonian people finding his comments extremely offensive. Your Ambassador’s comments are counter-productive and coupled with the fact that you did not visit Macedonia on your recent visit to the Balkans together with U.S. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton do not help Macedonia move forward with its integration processes.
The EU must finally come to terms that there is a country knocking on its doors for membership, called Macedonia, with a distinct Macedonian identity, language, and people. The EU must not allow the pressures of one member-state who has put the entire EU in jeopardy as a result of its economic and fiscal policies to prevent the EU from completing a Europe, whole, free, and at peace. UMD believes that by including Macedonia in the EU family as soon as possible would help stabilize the entire Southeast Europe region.
The UMD hopes that your Ambassador will publicly apologize for his mistake, and will refrain from making such offensive comments in the future.
The UMD looks forward to working with you, Commissioner Fule, and the EU institutions to ensure that Macedonia receives its long-overdue opening of accession negotiations this December.
Metodija A. Koloski
United Macedonian Diaspora