As the 45th Australian Parliament began its work this week, Australian Macedonians and their organisations have the right and obligation to mobilise their social and political networks to advocate for bipartisan support for ending Australia’s policy of segregation, institutional discrimination and de-legitimisation of the Republic of Macedonia and its diaspora.
In 2014 the Australian Government conducted an in-depth review of its policy on the use of Macedonia’s constitutional name and decided to continue its long-standing policy of using the UN nomenclature.
On 29 May 2015, the United Macedonian Diaspora kindly requested a copy of the Review or Assessment document from DFAT in order to have a better understanding of the quality, rigor and depth of analysis including the evidence and literature that was used, who was consulted in the decision-making process and why was the Australian Macedonian community excluded from it?
We would like to know why the Republic of Macedonia and its diaspora have been singled out for ongoing and unprecedented segregation, institutional discrimination and de-legitimisation by a friendly country like Australia?
We are deeply concerned that good foreign policy has been trumped by opportunistic politics by our major political parties who unfortunately accept direct and indirect political donations from vested interest groups and foreign governments who then interfere in our democracy and foreign policies.
In our letters to PM Turnbull we outlined that:
Recognising the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name will deliver the following benefits to Australia:
- Help maintain a positive security and strategic environment in Europe and beyond.
- Open trade, investment and economic co-operation with the region.
- Contribute to regional and global security.
- Contribute to the cause of good international citizenship.
- Protect and advance Australia’s national and international interests.Align the unjust, unethical and unsustainable policy with traditional Australian values and interests.
- Stop the erosion of the quality and integrity in our foreign policies and our democracy.
- Improve the standards of accountability, transparency and democratic practices and outcomes.
- Increase Australia’s chances of winning influential seats the UN Human Rights Commission and increase its profile and impact in multilateral and regional diplomacy.
- Confirm Australia’s commitment to the UN Charter that guarantees all sovereign nations the right to self-determination.
As a top 20 nation that supports the UN Charter and generally promotes robust foreign policies that add value to its national and international interests, Australia has to change its unjust and unsustainable policy of institutional discrimination and de-legitimisation of the Republic of Macedonia and its diaspora without waiting for a resolution of the issue between the governments in Skopje and Athens. Athens has no right to interfere in the domestic and foreign policies of Macedonia and Australia.
Australia should not allow the Hellenic Republic and its lobbyists in Australia to hold its foreign policy on Macedonia hostage to discredited ultra-nationalist politics from the 19th century.
Macedonia is a peaceful and successful multicultural society with a market economy and a vibrant democracy. It shares with Australia universal values. It has supported peace keeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. It has dealt effectively with the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. Its 100,000 strong diaspora has contributed to Australia’s economic, social and cultural development in the last 100 years.
Australia's foreign policy on Macedonia is badly out of step with the rest of the world. The bipartisan policy was developed behind closed doors without any national, parliamentary and foreign policy debates. Macedonia has been recognised by 136 nations at the UN under its legitimate constitutional name including the USA, Canada, UK, India, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia and many others. It is time for Australia to shift to a new foreign policy by recognising the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name.
September 8th 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name. It is an excellent time to start a new chapter in the bilateral relationship.
In closing, I wish to state that the United Macedonian Diaspora will continue with its mission of building strong, wide and deep relations between Australia and Macedonia involving all key stakeholders. We hope that the biggest obstacle in the bilateral relationship will be removed a.s.a.p. with bipartisan support.
We have a clear vision and a program of how to make positive and significant improvements not just to the bilateral relationship but also to enhancing Australia’s image, reach and influence in international affairs. We look forward to making a submission to the New Foreign Policy White Paper that according to the Sydney Morning Herald will be managed by Ms. Frances Adamson, Secretary of DFAT.
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