This blog post was published under the 2015 to 2024 Conservative government

Rachel Galloway

British Ambassador to Macedonia

Guest blogger for UK in North Macedonia

Part of UK in North Macedonia

25th August 2018 Skopje, North Macedonia

Notes upon my arrival in Macedonia

I am not sure whether Macedonia’s Head of Diplomatic Protocol has ever gone to meet a newly arriving Ambassador at the airport and been greeted first by two incredibly excited children who just had to show him all their toys, but he was so professional you would have thought it happens every time!  The warmth I and my family have been shown in Macedonia has continued ever since.

In the best of ways it seems so much longer than 6 weeks since I arrived and I already have memories that will remain.  The credentials ceremony and introductory conversation with President Ivanov in the historic Villa Biljana overlooking Ohrid.  My first meetings with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Deputy PM Bujar Osmani, Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Defence Radmilla Shekerinska, Speaker of Parliament Talat Xhaferi, and leaders of the two major political parties DUI’s Ali Ahmeti and opposition VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski. They each give me their own crash course in the name issue, reforms, relations with the neighbours, the country’s priorities and challenges and some must-tries from Macedonia’s cuisine and cultures.  I feel privileged to be given such a welcome by Macedonia’s leaders.

And it is fantastic to inherit such a capable Embassy team.  Filled with enthusiasm for their work and with a depth of experience and expertise.  They are all keen to tell me what it is that they do and how we work together to deliver the UK government agenda for Macedonia. Policy, programmes, corporate, finance, logistics, drivers, defence, security, human rights, media, civil society, consular links… the list keeps growing. I am excited to lead such a team to drive forward UK-Macedonia relations and cooperation.

As a family we are also building memories of Macedonia’s beauty and variety.  We have taken a boat ride through the cool, fresh air and serenity of the famous Matka Canyon (and promised my son he will get to come back and do the rapids in a kayak!).  We have also enjoyed the beaches in Ohrid and Struga where we could not cover more than 100 metres in an hour because the kids had to look at every butterfly and wildflower.  We are all enjoying the different local delicacies although we may need to slow down on that.  We are a little worried about the size we will be if we keep trying them all!

We have arrived in Macedonia in a truly exceptional moment. Following the conclusion of the Prespa Agreement by the Macedonian and Greek governments the citizens of Macedonia have the chance to have a say at a referendum what kind of Macedonia they would like to live in.

But the UK-Macedonia relationship goes much deeper than this one issue. This year we are marking 25 years from when we formally established diplomatic relations. Our policy and programme portfolio spans working with Parliament and political parties, helping the Government-led reform agenda, defence transformation, security sector reform, efficiency of judiciary, strengthening civil society and media and strengthening the business relationship.

I truly hope that in the next few years I will have the opportunity to meet many of the diverse and interesting people from across Macedonia and to work with you on the issues that are important for both UK and Macedonia. And I need your advice on the issues above, on how we can work better together and on how my family and I can experience Macedonia from the places to visit to its food and customs.  Let me know via my twitter @RGallowayUK or in the comments sections below.

Thank you for the warm welcome.

2 comments on “Notes upon my arrival in Macedonia

  1. As a British citizen with strong ties to Macedonia (I lived there for 10 years, married a Macedonian and my children are half Macedonian), I am appalled that the UK, EU, NATO, and US have been backing the oppression and bullying of Macedonia by Greece, and encouraging Macedonia to change its name. No country or set of countries has the right to dictate to a sovereign nation what they may or may not call themselves. There are historic reasons why Macedonia is entitled to be called Macedonia and no-one should be able to take that right away from the Macedonian people. To use EU and NATO membership as, in my view, a bribe to “encourage” the Macedonians to play ball reflects very poorly on all concerned. Not to mention conveniently ignoring the “questionable” treatment of Slavic Macedonians by Greece after chunks of old Macedonia were handed out by the so called great powers. What has Greece done to deserve such support on this issue? If there is any sense of justice in this world they should be condemned from all sides.

  2. Your Excellency Ms Galloway,

    Welcome to Macedonia.

    I’m not in doubt that You will deeper improve Your impressions about natural beauties of our State.

    Your role is of highest value for future of next generations in our State, as it is the rule of other representatives from EU countries, and other continents and members of international community of independent and souvereign nations.

    Macedonian nation, of course throw my focus of horizon, always have been progressive and close to fuure perspectives to which we aim in all domains.

    I wish You to be close to the sence of ordinary essence of voices and sttitudes of citizens , and if in public visions and siple feeling of unofficial authoritates, each of our citizens, I could see two sides with same purposes,
    Please “audiatur et altera pars” and feel what it is which will make our country feel like member of the European home.

    I wish You sucessful mision in our State

    Aleksandar Pulejkov

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