The advancement of Australia Macedonia relations received a major boost at a gala dinner in Sydney last Friday night organised by the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD). Macedonians from across Australia warmly welcomed Australia’s Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr. Senator Bob Carr along with the Co-Chairs of the Australia Macedonia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Stephen Jones MP and Luke Simpkins MP was presented with the United Macedonian Diaspora’s Macedonia Friendship Award for their contribution to advancing the bilateral relations. Veteran activist Mr. Mick Veloskey from the Macedonian community in Sydney, aged 89, was presented with UMD’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The event started with a cocktail reception followed by the reading of a letter from the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Dr. Gjorge Ivanov. Click here to read in English, and here in Macedonian.
Senator Bob Carr noted that “if re-elected he will conduct an official visit to Macedonia and work with the United Macedonian Diaspora and other key stakeholders on the implementation of the Roadmap for Advancing Australian Macedonian Relations.” Senator Bob Carr was clearly impressed with the cultural performances by the Sydney based Ilinden Macedonian Cultural Dance Group, Art Plaza Acoustic Group and others.
“The Australian Government and the Coalition were asked to commit to co-investing in stronger and deeper economic, social, cultural and political ties with the Republic of Macedonia. The relationship can be advanced by the immediate Australian recognition of the legitimate constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia and the opening of a much needed Australian Embassy in Skopje” stated Ordan Andreevski, Director of United Macedonian Diaspora (Australia).
These views were contained in a joint letter to both Senator Bob Carr and to Julie Bishop MP in which they were invited to show political leadership and give bipartisan support for Australian recognition of Macedonia under its constitutional name without further delays. They were also expressed in the UMD submission to the Inquiry into Australia’s Overseas Representation by the Foreign Affairs Sub-committee of the Australian Parliament and the Australian Research Council Linkage Project on The Macedonian Diaspora in Australia: Current and Potential Links with the Homeland.
The United Macedonian Diaspora has outlined a Roadmap for Advancing Australia Macedonia Relations, which calls on Australia to critically review and update its foreign, defence and trade policy towards Macedonia. This is based on the positive and significant progress that Macedonia has made since it gained independence in 1991 to strengthen its economy and democracy and to bring peace and stability in South East Europe. Australia also needs to acknowledge that Macedonia has become a net exporter of security by supporting key NATO and EU security initiatives in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.
Relations between Australians and Macedonians extend well beyond the 18 years since diplomatic ties were established between Australia and Macedonia. Last year, Senator Bob Carr acknowledged the contribution that the Macedonian community has made to Australia’s economic, social and cultural life. Since the arrival of Macedonian migrants in the 19th century, they have played a key role in the development of Australian economic, social and cultural infrastructure and institutions. Macedonians have worked for decades on key nation building projects in the construction, mining, forestry, agriculture and manufacturing industries. Prominent Macedonians in Australian society include Sydney Cancer Specialist Dr. Zoran Becvarovski, AFL football stars Peter Daikos (Collingwood) and Nick Malceski (Sydney Swans), international fashion designer, Toni Maticevski and top academics like Professors Harry Minas, Lily Stojanovska, Mile Terziovski etc.
The sizeable and strong Australian Macedonian community has enriched Australian life by establishing cultural institutions and citizen diplomacy organisations that promote friendship, policy innovation, continuous learning and strategic partnerships. Other VIPs that were present at the Gala Dinner include Craig Kelly federal MP, Mark Coure MP who represented the Premier of New South Wales Barry O’Farrell, Gordon Bradbury – Mayor of the Wollongong, Kent Johns – Mayor of Southerlands, Kostadin Tasevski and Michael Sibinovski from the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia in Canberra and Chris Balalovski.
The United Macedonian Diaspora would like to thank its sponsors: Australian Macedonian Weekly and Australian Macedonian Today, SHILO Magazine, SBS Radio Macedonian Program, Macedonian community radio stations across New South Wales, Radio MAK FM in Perth, Marco Polo Foods, Foteff Property Group, Joshua Sherman MC, Toni Simonovski DJ, Ilinden Macedonian Dance Group, Art Plaza Music Group, Preston Makedonija Football Club, Trpeza and “Oro” mineral water company, Mende Vasilevski and Ljupco Krstevski, Mak Video.
UMD would also like to acknowledge its volunteers Aleksandar Avramovski, Rob Pasquale, Martin Nikoloski, Rebecca Sherriffs, Veronica Farag, Suzie Livrinski, Dame Krcoski, Chris Balalovski, Dr. Irena Veljanova, and everyone who supported the event.