The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) President Metodija A. Koloski traveled to Belgium and Macedonia February 11-27, 2013. While in Brussels, Koloski was joined by UMD Stuttgart, Germany Representative Goce Peroski, UMD Greece Representative Eugenia Natsoulidou, and UMD Netherlands Representative Filip Altiparmakovski. UMD strongly believes that investing in engaging in high-level diplomacy yields valuable insights and productive outcomes in support of Macedonia and the Macedonian people.
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The primary purpose of Koloski’s visit to Macedonia was to further the preparation for the 4th UMD Global Conference, which will be held at Aleksandar Palace in Skopje on July 24-27, 2013, followed by cultural tours through August 2, 2013. On separate occasions, Koloski met with U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Ambassador Paul Wohlers, President Gjorge Ivanov’s National Security Advisor Darko Kostadinovski, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Secretary Vlado Misajlovski, Member of the Macedonian Parliament representative North America Pavle Sazdov, Members of the Macedonian Parliament Radmila Sekerinska and Tanja Tomic, and the Agency of Emigration Director Vasil Naumov to discuss Macedonian foreign policy issues as well as the Diaspora viewpoints on current affairs.
On February 13, 2013, Koloski delivered a speech regarding how advocacy works in Washington, D.C. at the Mother Theresa School of Public Policy in Skopje to current and past students. The School is run by the Center for Research and Policy Making.
On February 16, 2013, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski welcomed Koloski and UMD Macedonian Companions Member and Macedonia 2025 Board Member Chris Pavlovski to the Government Building in Skopje. During the meeting, Pavlovski and Koloski highlighted Diaspora engagement in the economic sector of Macedonia. Pavlovski, who owns Cosmic Development, an IT firm in Skopje stressed to the Prime Minister the need to further Macedonia as a type of “Silicon Valley of Southeast Europe,” having great potential for the IT industry. Koloski encouraged the Prime Minister to evaluate the possibility to re-establish the Ministry of Diaspora to better coordinate links between the Diaspora and the homeland.
On February 18-21, 2013, UMD continued on to Brussels to encourage further support for Macedonia’s EU and NATO membership. While at NATO Headquarters, the UMD Delegation met with NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security Mari Skare, Macedonian Ambassador to NATO, Ambassador Martin Trenevski, and the U.S., Canadian, and Turkish Missions to NATO. This was the largest delegation of UMD representatives to ever visit NATO Headquarters. UMD thanks Ambassador and Mrs. Trenevski and the entire Macedonian Mission to NATO for their hospitality during the visit.
UMD also met with the Macedonian Ambassador to Belgium, Ambassador Lazar Elenevski, the Macedonian Ambassador to the European Union, Ambassador Andrej Lepavcov, the Office of Baroness Catherine Ashton at the European External Action Service, the Office of the European Commissioner for Enlargement, as well as Members of the European Parliament.
On February 25, 2013, Koloski and Natsoulidou joined by Educative and Cultural Movement of Edessa Member Petre Kazias and UMD Social Media Coordinator Milka Trajkova held a press briefing before around thirty Macedonian journalists to discuss latest developments facing the Macedonian native community in Greece. UMD reiterated its long-held policy of calling on the Macedonian Government to withdraw from the talks at the UN over Macedonia’s rightful and constitutional name. On the same day, meetings were held with President Ivanov’s Domestic Policy Advisor Gordica Karanfilovska to discuss ways to collaborate with Ivanov School for Young Leaders, and with Goran Torbakov, in charge of Diaspora affairs for the Office of Prime Minister Gruevski.
UMD/ECME Participation at the 2013 NPLD Conference in Brussels
On February 21-22, UMD Greece Representative and the Founder of the Educative and Cultural Movement of Edessa-ECME (Voden) Eugenia Natsoulidou and ECME Member Petre Kazias participated in the 2013 Network for the Promotion of Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) Conference in Brussels. ECME is an NPLD Associate Member. During the first day, on February 21, International Mother Language Day, presentations were made on the issue of non-official and regional languages in the European Union by Francois Alfonsi, MEP (Corsica), Kinga Gal, MEP (Hungary), Professor Collin Williams of the University of Cardiff, Wales (UK), and Pierre Mairesse from the European Commission.
On February 22, Natsoulidou participated in the NPLD Steering Meeting where she presented the case of the Macedonian language in Greece, and the problems native speakers are facing. She noted that in Greece, Macedonian native speakers do not even have the right to call the language Macedonian, even though Macedonian is the only language spoken in the region of Macedonia, in Northern Greece, and nowhere else in Greece.
Representatives of other regional European languages pledged support in improving the situation of the Macedonian language in Greece, including reaching the status of other regional languages in the EU, in the educational system, in local government, commerce, and the media.