Macedonian emigrants to Australia - bridge of cooperation between two countries

Skopje, December 14 (MIA) - Macedonia and Australia are friendly countries with strong ties as a result of the great number of Macedonian citizens that live and take part in building the Australian society, the Australian House of Representatives Speaker, Harry Jenkins, said Monday in his address before Macedonian MPs.

The last Australian census has shown that 84,000 people of Macedonian origin live in the country.

In addition to the loyalty to Australia, Australia's citizenship, they have strong feelings for their Macedonian roots, promoting their culture, tradition and celebrating the country's national holidays, such as Ilinden and Independence Day, Jenkins said.

Numerous events offer an opportunuty to Australians to become familiar with Macedonia's culture, bring closer the two communities, Jenkins said, pointing out that last month Melbourne was a host of the Macedonian Film Festival.

The Macedonians living in Australia have also contributed substantially to the country's economic development, he said.

The establishment of diplomatic ties in 1995, the appointment of Macedonia's Honorary Consul in 1998, the visit of former foreign minister Ilinka Mitreva and the recent one of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski gave momentum to the cooperation between the two countries, Jenkins said.

In this respect he mentioned that Gruevski's visit to Australia resulted in signing of bilateral agreement on social insurance, under which people who spent part of their lives in Australia are entitled to pension in both countries - a move that offers them freedom of movement and reflects the respect both societies have been attaching to the human relations.

Jenkins also referred to the economic cooperation, saying that Australian companies are willing to invest in Macedonia's insurance, tourism and IT.

Jenkins is paying an official visit to Macedonia on invitation of Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski. This is a first visit of Australian high official to Macedonia.

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