The Hon David Coleman, the Federal Member for Banks, New South Wales, invited several representatives from the Macedonian community to participate in a video conference on 28 July 2021 with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Federal Senator for New South Wales, the Hon Marise Payne.
The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) Australia was represented by our Director, Ms Vera Sekulovska. Other representatives included Mr Joshua Sherman of the Australian Macedonian Council of NSW, Mr Done Kocankoski of the Macedonian School of Languages, Peakhurst, and Dr Tatjana Nedelkoska of the Australian-Macedonian Humanitarian Association Sv Arhangel Gavril. The facilitator of the meeting was Mr Oliver Dimoski, Macedonian representative NSW Liberal Party.
A range of matters were raised with the Foreign Minister, including the potential practical implications of the Prespa Agreement on the sizeable Macedonian-Australian community, the concerning flow-on impact on the rights of self-determination and identity, and issues with the Australian census and the mandating of COVID-19 vaccines.
The primary focus of UMD Australia at the meeting was to address ongoing pressure on the Australian Government to change the description of the Macedonian identity and language in view of the Prespa Agreement. It was highlighted that the Macedonian community has an established history in Australia and freely chooses to identify as Macedonian (with no added descriptors). The community seeks reassurance that there will be no infringement of its fundamental rights, as has transpired in the past. The Foreign Minister firmly stated that “one community cannot dictate to another community on how to name itself” and that Australian law would be applied to protect the rights of all communities equally. The Foreign Minister undertook to make further enquiries and to communicate with the community.