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UMD President Koloski: There is an alternative for name talks at UN

It is time for Greece to face the fate and the reality - that the Macedonian nation, language, identity and free sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia exist and they will exist regardless of what Greece or the Greek people think or want

Meto Koloski is one of the youngest leaders of the Macedonian diaspora in the world. In the past eight years, together with his colleagues in the US, but also in other continents, he managed to make UMD a modern organization, which successfully acts in the complex global spheres of interests from the very capital of the superpower. Koloski and the people who run UMD make many compromises in an attempt to gain supporters in the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Department of State, but exclude compromise on one issue – the name change.

The name talks take place on the continent, or more precisely in the state where you and the organization you are running reside. What does the solution to the name mean for you? How would a possible solution improve the situation of the Macedonians in America?

KOLOSKI: For the Macedonians in the US there is no other name than the Republic of Macedonia and any other “solution to the name” is unacceptable. The issue that Greece has imposed on Macedonia and the Macedonian people is its own issue and it is Greece that has find solution for itself. As far as we are concerned, the name of our country is the Republic of Macedonia and that is how it has to remain, if the Macedonian Government wants the support of the Macedonian community in the United States or any other country outside of Macedonia in which Macedonians live. UMD and the Macedonian community in the United States are actively involved in educating the American public structures, institutions and non-governmental institutions. One of our trump cards is that the right of self-identification is one of the basic human rights that the United States is so proud of, so that the pressures from Greece to forcibly change the name of the Republic of Macedonia is unacceptable for the American politicians once they are re-introduced and educated by us over the problem that Greece has with our name.

Is there a compromise that you would support regarding that for Greece compromise is something that for us is absolutely unacceptable?

KOLOSKI: Macedonia has made too many compromises in the past, it accepted the unacceptable name for use in the United Nations and other international institutions, changed the Constitution, changed the flag, which is our heritage, which, in a way, has encouraged the Greeks and gave them the green light to continue to do what they had started when Macedonia declared independence. It is time for Greece to face the fate and the reality – that the Macedonian nation, language, identity and free sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia exist and they will exist regardless of what Greece or the Greek people think or want.

What is your opinion about ceasing the name talks within the frames of the UN knowing that the US and the EU will access the standoff as Macedonia’s attempt to bring down the process of seeking a solution?

KOLOSKI: The Government of the Republic Macedonia has made a big mistake by not withdrawing from the name talks at the UN after the NATO Summit in 2008, when Macedonia’s NATO membership was obviously and clearly blocked by Greece. What is more interesting is that we needed a ruling from the International Court of Justice to prove the world that we are right, however, the ruling did not do anything to help us with the blockade to join NATO, which Greece has imposed on us. Nobody stood on our part to say that Macedonia is right and Greece is wrong, and as a result of the judgment Greece must allow us to join NATO. The current position of the Macedonian Government is not exactly clear, and UMD requires from the government to stop these negotiations and ask the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution where Macedonia will continue to be named as the Republic of Macedonia, and not FYROM. Macedonia’s priority have to be the internal reforms such as judiciary, human rights, economy. NATO and the EU also ought to be a priority of the state, but only when NATO and the EU are ready to accept Macedonia in their ranks, not to beg them to do so and to be blackmailed by these organizations to change our name and to change our identity. The Government of the Republic of Macedonia should not allow Greece, NATO or the EU to use anything as an argument against Macedonia to join NATO or the EU but the name issue, so it is important the internal homework to be completed.


What is the outlook of the name issue being transferred in the UN’s Security Council and General Assembly and return our constitutional name?

KOLOSKI: If Macedonia’s Government decides to cease or freeze the name talks, UMD will back that decision and help the active lobbying process at UN’s Security Council and General Assembly. But, we should not be too ambitious in advance. Such decision would require exquisite preparedness of the Foreign Ministry, every ambassador, every diplomat, every civil servant, as well as their participation in the process. It would definitely require large-scale coordination with Macedonians from the diaspora and their organizations. The Foreign Ministry would also have to hire a successful, world renowned public relations agency to alter the image of Macedonian of a country desperately striving to return to ancient history just to prove some point, to a country and nation which suffer from Greece and Greek decisions and do not enjoy basic human rights, a country which actively works to be the light of the Balkan in every aspect. After the Government makes such decision, UMD will start a marathon-long lobbying process worldwide to defend and justify that same decision in front of all state and global institutions.

Is the Macedonian diaspora doing enough for its motherland? Does it have the capacity, in the first place, to assist its country, as other strong diaspora unions do?

KOLOSKI: The diaspora send an average of 1,5-1,8 billion euros to Macedonia annually, which is 18-20% of the gross domestic product of the Republic of Macedonia. Isn’t that enough? Which other diaspora does more than that or provides bigger contribution? Thanks to the diaspora and Macedonia’s economic policy, Macedonia is currently not in a recession. The diaspora is the best ambassador of Macedonia abroad and, to be realistic, completely or partially does the work of Macedonian diplomacy. Being a small country, Macedonia depends on an active, professional, effective and influential diaspora. If not for the UMD, Macedonian would in no way have the support it now has from USA’s Congress or the Canadian Government regarding recognition of the constitutional name, as well as other past achievements. However, the diaspora can do a lot more. I do believe that if the diaspora gains more trust in Macedonian institutions, particularly the judiciary, it will be doing much more to help.

Preparations for the next presidential elections have begun. Are the Republicans still the main, desired partner to Macedonia, hoping they can contribute to the name issue, or are there activities in many different fields?

KOLOSKI: It is hard to say that if the Republicans win the government everything will be smooth for Macedonia and the region. The policy of the USA does not alters that much when the governing party changes. The Republicans, who governed the States by 2008, will not be the same with the potential victorious republican team of 2017. There are many young professionals who know very little of the situation in Macedonia and we would have to educate them a lot.

Can we say that the time of Barack Obama is a time lost for Macedonia regarding the dispute with Greece and NATO and EU accession?

KOLOSKI: We are truly sorry  the USA’s support for Macedonia during Obama’s term in office is not clear and evident, but certainly not everything is lost. There is still time, Obama will not leave the presidential chair for two more years. Macedonia has a new ambassador to Washington, who, we believe, will be able to regain US’s firm support for Macedonia’s NATO accession, if the Macedonian Government and the Foreign Ministry provide him full support in terms of human resources and finances for the embassy. We hope that a high NATO representative will visit Macedonia to voice such support. However, if we allow for a status quo, we will definitely fail to succeed. Macedonian people have a saying: “Go on, better days will come”. We cannot wait for 2017, the time is now, we must be proactive. Together, united, we can and we shall succeed.


By: Goran Momiroski

Photo: Private archive