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Macedonia at 21
read in Macedonian


Happy Birthday Macedonia!  You are 21 years young as a modern-day nation-state.  You have come a long way in those two plus decades and you’ve come through successfully.  When others said you could not, would not make it, you did.  You proved them wrong.  You have succeeded – not simply survived.   So congratulations!  I’m very proud of you and proud to have been a part of your life for many of those 21 years. And I hope to continue to celebrating these birthdays with you for many years to come.

Birthdays are good for looking back…and looking forward.  They’re a good time to reflect on what got you to this point in life and what needs to be done to continue growing, developing and succeeding.  So let’s do both today.

Looking back.  Many around the world – politicians, pundits and many in the media – said Macedonia would not survive as a nation-state when it declared independence.  They said it was too small, had too many ethnicities, didn’t have enough resources or lacked the professional wisdom and knowledge to run a country.  They said it would implode, explode, fade away or just break apart.

But those who said this did not know the Macedonian spirit.  They did not know the Macedonian will.  And they did not know the Macedonian drive to succeed.  They thought that the Macedonians would go quietly into the night – and they were wrong.  You, Macedonia, proved them wrong by working hard at home, working hard to create and foster positive relationships abroad and by honoring and loving God and your neighbors.

I truly believe that last is one reason why you have succeeded.  You have practiced the golden rule: you have loved your neighbors as yourselves.  I have found – the world has found – that Macedonians are a generous, warm, open and caring people.  Whether it is on an individual basis – helping the truly needy – or on a massive, group basis – welcoming and providing shelter to 360,000 Kosovo refugees – I have found Macedonians to be ready, willing and able to give, and to give cheerfully.  God loves a cheerful giver and that is to your credit.  Keep that spirit alive.

Looking forward.  While the world trembles and shakes, financially and literally, Macedonia is faring reasonably well.  I say “reasonably” because it can always do better.  Everyone will admit that.  But given the global circumstances, Macedonia is holding its own and then some. Foreign direct investment is coming in, jobs are being created and infrastructure is being built.  But it takes time to do all of this.  And while not all Macedonians are feeling the positive effects of this right here right now, in time, it will come.  I promise you that. But also remember this: as a country and as individuals you may never become extremely wealthy.  But you can be successful.  Think about that.

Diplomatically, more countries are recognizing Macedonia by its chosen name due to the excellent work of Macedonia’s diplomatic community, united Diaspora, and even its cultural ambassadors – in sports, music, the arts, and more.  In truth, no one in the international community (except for our Greek friends), deny the existence of the Macedonian country, people, language or Church, but some do, purely for political reasons. But this too is and will continue to change, in favor of Macedonia.  We must stay the course.

Macedonia, you have much to be proud of and much to give to the rest of the world.  The beauty of Macedonia is in both its physical characteristics – your lakes, mountains, fertile plains – and, really more importantly, people.  You make and give to each other and the world such beautiful things in literature, music, arts, sports, and culinary delights.  There is so much life and love packed into Macedonia.  You are a jewel and I am proud to stand with you, with Macedonia.

Looking forward, part 2: One of the great American presidents of the last century, Ronald Reagan, said this about our freedom as a county (the USA):  “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

The same applies to Macedonia. Your freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  Like us, it is my prayer and hope that you continue to fight for it, protect it and hand it on to your children and your children’s children.  For the oldest generation still alive today, teach them what it was like to keep the Macedonian spirit alive during the darker times of the last century.  For the generation that helped to create the modern-day nation-state that is the Republic of Macedonia, teach them what had to be done to create that state and what is necessary to preserve it.

Remember that, never forget that, and pass on all that you know and love to the next generation.  Do that and you will have a long, productive and meaningful life as a country.

God bless Macedonia and long live Macedonia!

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Jason Miko
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