Macedonian Diaspora Leaders Met UN Envoy Matthew Nimetz
20 May 2005
Representative leaders from the Macedonian Diaspora in North America Gligor Tashkovich of New York City, Metodija A. Koloski of the United Macedonian Diaspora in Washington, D.C. and Mark Opashinov of the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada in Toronto met earlier this month with United Nations envoy Ambassador Matthew Nimetz who is responsible for the mediation between the Republic of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the recent proposal of “Republika Makedonija-Skopje” made by Ambassador Nimetz to be used for bilateral relations between Greece and Macedonia.
The Macedonian Diaspora representatives pointed out to Ambassador Nimetz that in accordance with relevant international norms, the Republic of Macedonia -- as is the case with any other country -- has the right to self-determination, which is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. One of the basic definitions of this right is the right to one’s identity and name. The Republic of Macedonia does not hold nor does it claim to hold exclusive rights over the name Macedonia in geographic, cultural, or historic terms. However, Greece does not have any such exclusive rights either. The representatives further explained that the Republic of Macedonia is neither demanding change nor objecting to the use of the name “Macedonia” to designate Greece’s northern province.
Regarding the name proposal made by Ambassador Nimetz, the representatives pointed out that the proposed name is derogatory and adversely affects Macedonians in Greece. The proposed name would open the doors for Greece to refer to ethnic Macedonians – including those that live in Greece – as “Skopjians,” a term that Macedonians everywhere consider derogatory. The implicit sanction of this term by such a bilateral resolution to the name dispute will have especially harsh consequences for the Macedonians of Greece, as it would legitimize Greece’s official policy of non-recognition and persecution of its sizable ethnic Macedonian national minority.
The Macedonian Diaspora representatives reiterated that the discussions between Greece and Macedonia are about bilateral recognition only, and should neither impact nor impede continued international recognition of the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name.
The United Macedonian Diaspora is an international organization whose mission is to address the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.
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The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada (MHRMC) has been active on human rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. Its main objective is to pursue and attain all fundamental human and national rights including the right of freedom of expression and association and to support all democratic principles for all ethnic Macedonians, and other oppressed peoples.
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