Macedonia Parliamentarians Highlight Success in Country’s Democratic Transition during Visit to the US

The International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) and Europe division joined the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia to host six women members of parliament representing different political parties during the week of July 15-21. The visit allowed the parliamentarians to discuss different legislative processes and provided them an opportunity to share the accomplishments of Macedonia on legislative reforms that are a prerequisite to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union (EU) membership.

Silvana Boneva of the VMRO – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) led the delegation in meetings with officials from Capitol Hill, the U.S. State Department, the White House, the nongovernmental community, and in Annapolis, Maryland where the delegation met with officials from the Maryland State Senate, the House of Delegates and the Governor’s office. The delegation also included Cvetanka Ivanov, Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM); Flora Kadriu, Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA); Selvie Saliu, Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI); Roza Topuzovska Karevska, Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP); and, Mirjana Sekulovska, New Social Democratic Party (NSDP).

The delegation exchanged ideas and experiences with political leaders and policy makers in the United States. Congresswoman Lois Capps, co-chair of the U.S. Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, expressed interest in building a network between the Congressional Women’s Caucus and the Republic of Macedonia Women’s Parliamentary Club and suggested a networking and policy event including the Congressional Women’s Caucus, counterparts from the European Union and the Adriatic-3 countries (Croatia, Albania and Macedonia).

“When women speak about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization they speak about peace and about bringing peace to the world,” commented Ms. Topuzovska Karevska of LDP in a discussion with Ms. Orna Blum of the State Department’s Office of International Women’s Issues. She added that, “The Republic of Macedonia has contributed greatly to the fight against terrorism and will continue to do so.”

Ms. Boneva presented her counterparts on Capitol Hill with a declaration passed unanimously by the parliament of the Republic of Macedonia pronouncing EU and NATO integration a priority and assuring continued reforms, putting the country on track for consideration at the NATO summit to be held in Bucharest in February 2008.

On July 18, the delegation provided analysis of the political environment in the Republic of Macedonia and assessed challenges and opportunities to creating a consensus based national dialogue during a panel at IRI entitled “Republic of Macedonia: Euro-Atlantic Aspirations and Perspectives.”

During the briefing, Macedonian Ambassador Zoran Jolevski highlighted recent reforms and expressed a desire for continued cooperation between IRI and the Republic of Macedonia. The parliamentarians discussed their differences and their backgrounds, but came to a very strong consensus on one issue: the desire of the Macedonian people to join NATO. They highlighted the significant reforms their country had made in the past few years, government re-organization, and, drawing on recent IRI public opinion polling, the 91 percent approval rating among Macedonian citizens for NATO ascension.

Since its independence in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia has passed a number of key milestones on its path toward democratic consolidation. However, a lack of constructive political dialogue has remained a primary obstacle to the government’s reform agenda, and to Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration objectives.

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