Ministers quotes fabricated by proSkopje media

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Federal Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor MP met with representatives of the ‘United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD)’ and the ‘Macedonian Community Council of Victoria’ in Melbourne last week, to hear the groups’ pleas for Australia to recognise FYROM as “the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name before the federal election in 2013”. However, the minister told Neos Kosmos that despite appearances to the contrary, he will continue to support the mediation process led by the United Nations. A report of the meeting – which took place at the minister’s constituency office on February 15 – was posted shortly after, on the UMD website and said that Minister O’Connor had in the past “been supportive of efforts of Macedonia to self-identification as a sovereign nation”. Pro-Skopje media picked up on the meeting, quoting the minister – in an article published on the ‘Macedonia Information Agency (MIA)’ website – as saying: “I have addressed the public and the parliament asking that Australia finally recognizes the legitimate right of Macedonia’s self-determination as a sovereign nation, including all rights guaranteed in the UN Charter”. Minister O’Connor was further quoted as saying that he would be “conveying these essential issues to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr”. However, as Neos Kosmos went to press, Mr O’Connor categorically denied making the statements attributed to him by the MIA website. “I did not say that. I have been misquoted and verballed,” the minister told Neos Kosmos. In response to his denial, the Australian Macedonian Advisory Council told Neos Kosmos: “This sort of blatant fabrication is typical of the ‘MIA’ – given it is a political website disguised as an online news website.” At the meeting, which took place at the Minister’s electoral office in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Mr O’Connor’s support was encouraged to back a proposal for Australia to open an embassy in Skopje. He was also invited to meet FYROM’s Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki who according to the UMD website “may be on an official visit to Australia in March 2013”. The UMD are in addition seeking a cultural exchange agreement between Canberra and Skopje which would allow citizens to work and study in each other’s countries. In a statement regarding the February 15 meeting and the various statements attributed to him, Mr O’Connor said: “As a local Member of Parliament I listen to and have a good relationship with the Macedonian community. “Equally, I listen to, respect and appreciate any issues of concern of my Greek constituents. “As a Minister, obviously I support the Government’s policy position. We encourage the governments in Skopje and Athens to work together and we support the mediation process led by the United Nations Special Negotiator.”last_img read more