On February 7, 2017, in an interview with the Albanian press, the Chairman of the Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Subcommittee, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Republican-California), stated:
“Macedonia is not a country. I’m sorry, it’s not a country. Kosovars and Albanians in Macedonia should become part of Kosovo. The other part of Macedonia should become part of Bulgaria, or whatever country they allege to belong. The idea that we should keep Macedonia alive because someone 30 years ago decided this was the best reconfiguration that should come out of Yugoslavia’s disintegration, does not lead to a reasonable justification that this idea has to persist.”
The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) immediately issued a statement condemning the Congressman and called for his resignation from the Europe Subcommittee.
Congressman Rohrabacher’s comments caused an uproar among the members of the Macedonian-American community as well as Macedonian communities around the world, who sent letters, made phone calls, and wrote on social media to the Congressman demanding an apology. The Macedonian foreign ministry requested clarification from the U.S. Department of State, which responded by stating: “Regarding U.S. policy, we recognize and support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia.”
Media from around the world also reported the Congressman’s comments, which in turn drew a response from his fellow Republican member of Congress Dave Trott, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans, stating “A sovereign and strong Macedonia and Macedonian people serves to benefit our mutual interests and we must support, not undermine, our important ally.”
Yesterday, February 16, 2017, UMD President Metodija A. Koloski and UMD Advisory Council member Chris Antoniou met with Congressman Rohrabacher for close to an hour regarding the matter and reiterated UMD’s position of no change of borders to Macedonia.
UMD provided the Congressman with a copy of the books “This Land We Do Not Give – a history of Macedonian resistance to foreign occupation” by Michael Seraphinoff and Chris Stefou, “Iraqi Freedom – Road to Babylon” by Metodi Hadji Janev, as well as an educational packet of information of the Human Rights of the Macedonian Minority in Greece.
During the meeting, the Congressman apologized for his insensitive comments, and as a follow-up issued the below statement today.
UMD appreciates the time Congressman Rohrabacher took to meet with UMD leadership and for correcting his statement to support Macedonia’s legitimate rights, and we hope he will remain committed to a stable unitary Macedonia.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ken Grubbs, 202.225.0145
February 17, 2017
Rohrabacher Clarifies Recent Remarks on Macedonia
WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on Friday released the following statement concerning widely quoted comments made recently concerning Macedonia:
At the end of a recent interview, I made a number of informal statements regarding the Republic of Macedonia. Upon reflection, I see that some of those statements did not accurately convey my intent. This release clarifies my position. Macedonia is a legitimate country with the right of self-determination and sanctity of borders. My comment alluded, perhaps inartfully, to my concern with internal governing challenges that Macedonia faces concerning ethnic minorities.
I am in no way suggesting that anyone except Macedonians determine the sovereign status or borders of their country. If my words were taken to mean anything else, I apologize.
I want to recognize and applaud the positive relationship we have had with Macedonia. They are indeed a friend. This is especially evident in the meaningful support that the Macedonian military has provided over the past 20 years to the United States, to NATO, and to associated multilateral defense organizations, in peacekeeping and related refugee operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
I have had the opportunity to meet many Americans (and Macedonians) who have provided me with very useful input on the region’s history and current dynamics. I look forward to working together with them in the future and, most importantly, to continuing to do my part to help shape U.S. foreign policy so that it encourages a peaceful, prosperous and free Balkans.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
Forty-eighth District, California