The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) – the leading voice for Macedonians abroad – celebrates the 30th anniversary of Macedonia’s Independence Day and congratulates all Macedonians in and outside the Republic on this auspicious occasion.
UMD reflects on the centuries-old struggle for Macedonian independence and the countless lives lost to ensure that this dream and vision of a free and sovereign nation-state comes to fruition. We will forever remain indebted for their sacrifices – we cannot take this day for granted.
Macedonia’s right to exist among the family of European nations has continuously been denied by neighbors who gained their independence in the 19th century. Finally, in 1991, despite opposition once again from neighbors, the people’s clear determination to see a modern Republic was realized.
On this day, in 1991, 95.09% of Macedonians voted “yes” to declare a free, independent, and sovereign Macedonia. Macedonians all over the Diaspora joined their compatriots in the country in the referendum to secede from then-Yugoslavia.
That night, in a massive celebration on the main square in Skopje, the first President of the Republic of Macedonia and a 2011 UMD Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Kiro Gligorov, declared “Dear citizens of Macedonia, allow me, tonight, to you and to all citizens of Macedonia, to congratulate you on the sovereignty and the independence of Macedonia!”
UMD recognizes the critical and instrumental role played by Macedonians and Macedonian organizations abroad who spent countless hours, and funds to aid in Macedonian independence and to gain international equality, respect, and recognition.
140+ countries around the world recognized the name Republic of Macedonia and “the injustice of a country being forced to accept the name given by another country, as opposed to a name selected by its people,” as stated by Canadian-Macedonian John L. N. Bitove, C.M., who spearheaded international recognition efforts.
For Bitove’s important contributions, UMD presented him with the 2010 UMD Lifetime Achievement Award and Macedonia’s President Dr. Gjorge Ivanov awarded him the highest Macedonian distinction the Order 8th of September, which has never been given to anyone in the Diaspora before, during the 20th anniversary of Macedonia’s independence in 2011.
Macedonian-American Ljubica Z. Acevska was appointed Macedonia’s first envoy, and then Ambassador to the United States tasked with establishing bilateral relations with the U.S., and ties with the IMF, World Bank, and the United Nations. The efforts of Ambassador Acevska, who held one of the most difficult jobs of opening doors for this young country with an ancient history, have not gone unrecognized – in 2011, UMD honored her with the UMD Macedonian Heritage Public Service Award.
UMD, which marks its own 17th anniversary this October, has been able to carry on its mission of serving as the voice of Macedonians through the mentorship of such extraordinary individuals in our global Diaspora community.
Since the improperly conducted and deeply regrettable name change in 2018, the discouragement and disappointment of Macedonians around the world is clear – just as an overwhelming majority voted yes in the 1991 referendum, an overwhelming majority are against that name change. UMD pledges to continue educating the public because Macedonia deserves its rightful name chosen by its own people, native to the land of Macedonia.
UMD calls for unity and action – we hold the key to the future of Macedonia. Whether you are watching the Macedonian flag proudly raised in Skopje, New York City, or Rockdale, or seeing the red/yellow colors on CN Tower in Toronto, or the illumination of Niagara Falls tonight – remember one thing: we, Macedonians, are responsible for one another, we must work together, join hands, and carry the torch for the Macedonian cause, and pass it the new generations of Macedonian activists globally.
God Bless Macedonia!
God Bless Macedonians!