The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), the voice of Macedonians abroad in Washington, D.C., with membership in Ohio, applauds Senator Kenny Yuko and Senator Michael A. Rulli for introducing S.B. 261 on February 5, 2020, before the 133rd General Assembly. S.B. 261 calls for the creation of the Commission on Eastern European Affairs and the Office of Eastern European Affairs for Ohio. Video of Senators Yuko and Rulli remarks can be seen here.
S.B. 261 text states that the Commission shall “gather and disseminate information and conduct hearings, conferences, investigations, and special studies on issues and programs concerning eastern European people; secure appropriate recognition of accomplishments and contributions of eastern European people to the state; promote public awareness of the issues of eastern European people by conducting a program of public education,” among other programs. The full text can be read by clicking here.
According to S.B. 261, “Eastern European people” mean those that “identify as or are regarded in the community as being of Albanian, Belarusian, Bosnian and Herzegovinian, Bulgarian, Carpatho-Rusyn, Croatian, Czech, east European Jewish, Estonian, Greek, Hungarian, Kashubian, Kosovar, Latvian, Lithuanian, Lusatian Sorbian, Macedonian, Moldovans, Montenegrins, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Transylvanian Saxon, Ukrainian, or any other eastern European origin.”
Ohio is home to over 1.1 million Ohioans of Eastern European heritage. UMD thanks the Eastern European Congress of Ohio, who has been championing this effort and working with the offices of Senators Yuko and Rulli.
UMD estimates over 100,000 Ohioans of Macedonian heritage, with communities in most Ohio cities, especially Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Mansfield, and Youngstown.
“I remember EECOH’s Chair Laurel Tombazzi first speaking of this Commission and the creation of April as Eastern European Month during UMD’s 2nd Macedonian American Leadership Conference at Ohio State University in May 2015,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “What Laurel pledged to do, Laurel has brought to fruition – I commend her for the initiative, hard work, and follow-through. There is no better advocate for the Eastern European collective community in Ohio.”
Last April, during Eastern European Month, UMD loaned the EECOH three Macedonian cultural and historical items, which were on display in the Map Room of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus where the traffic in April 2019 was over 25,000 people.
UMD looks forward to working with EECOH, Senators Yuko and Rulli, and the Ohio Legislature to see this Commission formed as soon as possible.