Representatives of the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) yesterday had the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Julia Gillard MP and other government Ministers. The meetings took place in the context of the Community Cabinet day held in Werribee, Melbourne.
The AMHRC's engagement with the Prime Minister and Senior Ministers is part of a long running and sustained campaign by the AMHRC to lobby the Australian government on the issue of Australia's recognition of the official name of the Republic of Macedonia and the recognition of the right of self-identification of the Macedonian community in Australia. A more public "It's Time" campaign, calling on members of the Macedonian community to lobby their local MPs was also announced in the AMHRC Review earlier this year.
During all its meetings yesterday AMHRC representatives took the opportunity to implore members of the current Federal government to demonstrate leadership on these issues and adopt a change in policy on Macedonia. As a modern democracy based on the rule of law, Australia should respect and accept Macedonia's democratic right to its official state name. Australian policy in relation to Macedonia as well as being unjust is also out-dated and it should be revised to bring it into line with its major allies.
In 1994, the ALP-led Australian government recognised Macedonia "using the nomenclature the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in accordance with the terminology used by the United Nations" as claimed by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). It seems only appropriate that the current ALP-led government conform with the now well established diplomatic practice employed by a majority of countries. Namely, the decision should be taken, without further delay, to recognise the official name of Macedonia in bilateral relations.
The AMHRC has also been pressing the Australian government on other issues of importance to the Macedonian community such as the possibilities to deepen bilateral relations between Australia and Macedonia by opening an Australian Embassy in Skopje; the need for Macedonian catered aged-care facilities in Australia; and possibilities for government support for Macedonian language education in Australia, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels.
The AMHRC continues to encourage Macedonians in Australia to write to their local federal MPs – regardless of their political affiliation - demanding a change in Australia's policy in relation to Macedonia’s name. Contact details for your local representative can be found on the website of the Parliament of Australia: http://aph.gov.au/house/members/index.htm