The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) issued the following statement on today’s passing of General Colin L. Powell, the son of immigrants from Jamaica, who served as the United States’ first African American Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
General Powell rose to become one of America’s most recognized statesmen, tirelessly advancing democratic causes, international security, and economic prosperity. He inspired Americans and many others throughout the world to follow in his footsteps as public servants.
A week into his role as Secretary of State in 2001, his attention turned to the fledgling Macedonian state, which terrorists were attacking. He visited Macedonia in April 2001 to underscore the U.S. commitment to Macedonia. During a May 2001 meeting with Macedonia’s President Boris Trajkovski in Washington, D.C., Secretary expressed “solidarity with Macedonia; the United States’ total commitment to territorial integrity of Macedonia; our commitment to this democracy which is facing dastardly and cowardly acts from terrorists and terrorist organizations that are trying to subvert the democratic process in Macedonia.”
It is rare when a confluence of circumstances, challenges, and statesmen critical to the future of a country place it at a crossroads. In our view, the Republic of Macedonia is that country. As Secretary of State, General Powell was the statesman whom we believe singularly facilitated Macedonia’s position on the world stage and made Macedonia’s future politically viable.
One of Secretary Powell’s more prominent statements later evolved as a watchword for Macedonia’s stability and a harbinger for the future by signaling that Macedonia could indeed “stand on its own two feet.”
Secretary Powell was a firm believer in the NATO Open Door Policy and spearheaded the signing of the U.S.-Adriatic Charter in May 2003, bringing together Macedonia with Albania and Croatia to prepare them and push for their eventual full NATO membership.
Secretary Powell developed a personal friendship with the Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and joined with the Macedonian people in grieving the tragic death of the President in a plane crash in February 2004.
Secretary Powell recognized that Greece’s issue with Macedonia’s name had profound geopolitical ramifications for the region. He had an instrumental role in changing U.S. policy to recognize our homeland by its constitutional and rightful name – the Republic of Macedonia on November 4, 2004.
General Powell left a deep impression and mark on the Macedonian people.
UMD and the global Macedonian community extend our heartfelt condolences to Alma Powell and the Powell family.