On Thursday, February 8, 2018, the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) bestowed the UMD Macedonia Public Service Award to the former First Lady of the Republic of Macedonia, Vilma Trajkovska, and the UMD Macedonia Friendship Award to Marijana Petir from Croatia – the first Member of the European Parliament to receive such recognition from UMD. Trajkovska was appointed to serve as the first Honorary Advisory Council Member of UMD’s Women in Leadership Program.
The Awards Ceremony took place at the UMD Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on the sidelines of the National Prayer Breakfast.
UMD Board Member and Treasurer Lidija Stojkoska and UMD Board Member and Director of Policy and Strategy Zhikica Pagovski gave the first Award of the evening.
“Ms. Petir has worked tirelessly to strengthen the bonds of friendship between Macedonia and Croatia, and Macedonia and the EU and to advance Macedonia’s transatlantic integration,” stated Pagovski.
“There are no words that can express my gratitude to the United Macedonia Diaspora for honoring me with this award. I believe you are well aware that the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian people are very close to my heart. I share your joys and I equally share your concerns,” stated Petir. “I have repeatedly insisted on opening the (EU) accession negotiations as I strongly believe that any sovereign state cannot blackmail another sovereign state and as the EU it should not have double standards, otherwise it will lose its credibility.”
Petir concluded, “Macedonia and Macedonian people are fighters – you have proven that so many times. Let’s not look back, but towards and turn to the future. Let’s do everything possible in the present moment to ensure the European future of our beloved Macedonia.”
UMD President Metodija A. Koloski praised the critical work of former First Lady Trajkovska through the Boris Trajkovski International Foundation in advancing the education of youth, affirming the role of women in societal development, as well as the role women play in democracy building. Fourteen years, this month, since the tragic death of her husband Boris Trajkovski, Trajkovska, carrying on his vision of peace and building dialogue, has given over 100 scholarships to talented young students giving them the opportunity for a quality education.
In inviting Trajkovska to be the first Honorary Advisory Council Member of UMD’s Women in Leadership Program, Program Chair Ana Dukoska recognized Trajkovska as “one of Macedonia’s finest stateswomen,” and hopes she would be able to aid in the advancement of the program and in carrying out its mission through her passion and dedication in public service while empowering fellow Macedonian women in all aspects.
Moved by the ceremony, Trajkovska, who was joined by her daughter Sara Trajkovska, stated “Thank you United Macedonian Diaspora – this Award adds up to my motivation to continue working to bringing people together, building relationships, building friendships among people – these recognitions are an inspiration to carry on Boris’ legacy – this award for public service is important for me, really, public service is about serving, it is the very core value of my family.”
Among the attendees were Acting Deputy State Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Matthew Palmer, Macedonian Member of Parliament Vlatko Gjorcev, officials from the Croatian and Macedonian Embassies, UMD Advisory Council members, members of UMD in the DMV region, as well as Board Members/Staff of UMD’s partner organizations, the National Federation of Croatian Americans and the Turkish Coalition of America.