The first Macedonian to reach America may have been Dragan of Ohrid. Numerous legends surround this colorful figure who probably sailed with Columbus to America and may have returned to the New World with his own expedition to the marshy swamplands of modern-day Venezuela, which Dragan named “Venezia” for its similarities to the lagoon-laced Italian city.
The United States formally recognized Macedonia on February 8, 1994, and the two countries established full diplomatic relations on September 13, 1995. The US Liaison Office was upgraded to an embassy in February 1996, and the first American ambassador to Skopje arrived in July 1996. In deference to its ally, Greece, the US officially recognized Macedonia as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. But that changed on November 4, 2004 when the Bush administration gave recognition to “Macedonia” only, much to the consternation of officials in Athens.
US imports from Macedonia totaled $72.7 million in 2007, led by steelmaking and ferroalloying materials (unmanufactured) at $37.1 million (after registering $0 in the previous years). Other imports on the rise include nickel, up from $0 to $6.8 million, tobacco, and waxes and nonfood oils, up from $7.9 million to $10.4 million.
Macedonia Takes Greece to Court over Name, NATO Dispute
The 2007 State Department report on human rights in Macedonia found that police abuse of suspects continued to be a problem, and there were allegations of police harassment of ethnic minorities. Also, corruption in the interior and justice ministries, and political pressure exerted on them, the courts, and the public prosecutor’s office, impeded the investigation and prosecution of some allegations of human rights abuse. In addition, societal discrimination against ethnic minorities, particularly Roma, continued to be a problem.
Christopher R. Hill
Appointment: Jul 2, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 29, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 2, 1999
Paul D. Wohlers, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the Balkan nation of Macedonia on August 2, 2011. Wohlers has previous experience in Macedonia.
A native of Pennsylvania, Philip T. Reeker was nominated by President Bush on March 18, 2008, to be US Ambassador to Macedonia. He was confirmed by the Senate on August 1 and sworn in on September 10. Reeker received a BA from Yale in 1986 and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona in 1991.