September 8, 2011 marked the twentieth anniversary of Macedonia’s independence. On this day, President Gjorgje Ivanov awarded Mr. John L. N. Bitove, a renowned Canadian businessman of Macedonian descent, with the “September 8” Medal for his commitment to and engagement in supporting the Republic of Macedonia and its road to sovereignty.
“With your sincere support of Macedonia, nourishment of its name, identity, traditions and culture, you set an example for this and next generations of the Macedonian Diaspora,” President Ivanov said at the awarding ceremony. “For two decades you have been supporting the development of the Republic of Macedonia as an independent, sovereign, democratic country, as well as its affirmation, particularly in friendly Canada,” Ivanov added.
President Ivanov commented on Mr. Bitove’s support in encouraging the market economy, as well as his philanthropist nature in promoting awareness of social responsibility.
While graciously accepting the “September 8” award, Mr. Bitove expressed his gratitude for this honor, as well as expressing that his family and Macedonian origin were the love of his life. During his speech he commented on the struggles Macedonia faced.
“I am aware that the last 20 year have not been easy. Injustice has been done in many occasions. We’ve been supported by many, but few have been trying to frighten us and never succeeded. I believe it is a question of time when these injustice will be corrected,” Bitove said. “Macedonians wish to live in peace and prosperity as all other nations. We shall do whatever it takes to provide that for the future generations,” he added.
Mr. Bitove also addressed the Macedonian youth, stated, “Everything may be achieved with optimism, hard work and dedication. Macedonia needs your energy. Our leadership in Skopje is making the right moves. Be patient. Rome has not been built overnight. Let’s learn from the mistakes of others and do the right things for the sake of lasting success.”
On September 9, Mr. Bitove, together his sons – who are part of his business activities, also met the Macedonian Prime Minister Mr. Nikola Gruevski.
Gruevski expressed his gratitude for Bitove’s long-term efforts to promote Macedonia in Canada and to support the activities of the Macedonian Diaspora across the American continent. They discussed the incentives that Macedonia offers to foreign investors, such as the favorable tax policy. They also highlighted the importance of the Diaspora’s more intensive engagement in attracting foreign capital, as well as the Government’s policy for involving the Macedonian emigrants in the social and political life of their native country.
Gruevski and Bitove agreed that the Macedonian Diaspora needs to take an active role in promoting Macedonia’s interests and economic development, as well as in building stronger links between their native and the countries where they reside.