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IA-Forum Interview: Mr. Lazar Elenovski
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IA-Forum speaks with Mr. Lazar Elenovski, the President of the Euro-Atlantic Council of Macedonia and former Defense Minister of Macedonia. International Affairs Forum: Mr. Elenovski, as the President of the Euro - Atlantic Council in Macedonia and a former Defense Minister, you have had contacts with many members of President Bush’s administration. Would you please share with our readers your experience with this administration? Mr. Lazar Elenovski: The Republic of Macedonia looks towards the USA as a strategic partner and a sincere friend. We look at President Bush as a personification of such friendship. On November 4th 2004, the USA recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name. Also, at the last summit of NATO in Bucharest, President Bush urged for a full membership of the Republic of Macedonia in NATO. But we did not get the NATO invitation due to known reasons [the name dispute with Greece]. We got a conditional invitation. As a Defense Minister, I had many meetings with my American colleagues, first with Mr. Donald Rumsfeld and later with Mr. Robert Gates. Our bilateral collaboration on the field of defense is on the highest level. During all these years, support from the United States has been very strong and we are very grateful for that. Macedonia is fully involved in President’s Bush vision for Europe: Free, Whole and at Peace. We must accept the fact that during this USA administration the world faced new security threats and the new 9/11 security reality. The democratic world led by the USA was and still is engaged in protecting mankind values, similar to what the world did half a century ago fighting fascism. As a young democracy, we are proud by the fact that we are taking part in this, especially with our participation in the peace operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. IA-Forum: How do you view the current position of the USA on the global political, military and economic map? Mr. Lazar Elenovski: The United States is the world’s biggest political, military and economy power, but at the same time it is the most democratic force that pushes the world toward peace, freedom and progress. These are the basic values of the American people. The Bush administration supports young democracies and this has positive influence on total transformation of regions. We must not forget the essential and key role that the USA played in resolving the armed conflict in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001 and the endorsement of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. IA-Forum: The victory of President-elect Barack Obama shows that the USA is ready for change. With the new administration, do you expect any domestic or foreign policy changes in the Balkans? Mr. Lazar Elenovski: I believe that the American politics and the American interests are long-term and that there won’t be any big changes. But it is possible, at least at the beginning, of a reduced foreign policy interest in the Balkans. This may happen because the newly elected president Obama is facing other global challenges. The global financial crisis will be the top priority and primary challenge for the new American leadership. IA-Forum: What are the other acquisitions that the world will have with Obama’s victory? Mr. Lazar Elenovski: Obama’s victory is of great importance not only for the USA, but also for the entire world. Being a leader of the world means that you have to prove that you can put aside all taboos, stereotypes and limitations. The American people showed that they are ready to continue to lead the world. The election of Barack Obama is a great encouragement and a great example, which, I believe, will have global influence. To be precise, in my region, which is multiethnic and multi-religious, I hope that this victory will have an impact over the enlargement of tolerance and understanding, and finally, will show us that segregations are harmful. Our future is mutual, and the integrations and unions are the only options for well–being and prosperity. It is obvious that the world is changing. America gave the world a new impulse and I think that now, the common, global perception towards the USA is changing in a very positive manner.

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