By Mark Branov
TORONTO, CANADA – August 28, 2009 – Their Excellencies Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, and host of other top Macedonian dignitaries, concluded a trip to Canada this week, including stops in Ottawa and Toronto.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister and his team met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay, and Minister for International Trade Stockwell Day in the Canadian capital. The Prime Ministers signed a significant agreement on social insurance, which would allow Macedonian citizens with a Canadian pension to retire in Macedonia and receive their pension or disability payments directly. With Macedonia expected to enjoy visa liberalization with Europe in 2010, PM Gruevski and PM Harper discussed the possibility of a similar arrangement. Macedonian officials expressed satisfaction with good bilateral relations between the two countries, and Canadian officials especially praised the Macedonian Army’s combat role in NATO-led missions, especially in Afghanistan.
On Thursday evening, the Prime Minister and his entourage were hosted at St. Clement Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral in Toronto. His Eminence, Metropolitan Metodij of the American-Canadian Diocese, Very Reverend Father Trajko Boseovski and other Macedonian Orthodox clergy greeted the ministers, who lit candles at the altar. They were then led to the grand hall, where a crowd of 600+ people enjoyed a gala banquet in the PM Gruevski’s honor. Noting the importance of August 28 as Dormition of the Mother of God – which is now an official state holiday in Macedonia – PM Gruevski’s detailed speech highlighted his government’s accomplishments over the last three years; everything from fulfilling all requirements for NATO and EU visa liberalization requirements, fighting corruption, key economic reforms, and massive investments in improving the quality of education.
On Friday, philanthropist and business mogul John Bitove, Sr., hosted an exclusive luncheon for the Prime Minister and his entourage at the world-famous restaurant Wayne Gretzky’s. The small, private gathering of 15 included UMD Director of Canadian Operations Jim Daikos, and UMD representatives Mark Branov, Micheal Branov, and Goran Saveski. Also present were Macedonia 2025 President Mitre Kutanovski and Executive Director Deyan Kostovski.
Later on that evening, a business-oriented conference open to the general public was held at St. Clement’s, with special focus on attracting foreign investment from Canada’s large Macedonian community.
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