Aussie town keen to establish sister-city relationship with Ohrid

It's hoped sibling rivalry won't spoil a plan for the city of Queanbeyan, regional centre in south-eastern New South Wales, Australia, to adopt Ohrid in Macedonia, as its second sister city, Canberra Times reports.

The move to establish a friendship agreement with the lakeside town in the Balkans has been a project of Queanbeyan City Councillor, Velice Trajanoski, who is just one of the many Queanbeyan residents who migrated here from Ohrid.

"In Queanbeyan, first, second and third-generation Macedonians are counting around 7,000 people. About 70 to 80% are from that region, if not from Ohrid itself," he said.

Queanbeyan has had a sister-city agreement with Minami Alps, Japan, for more than 20 years. Councillor Trajanoski said this new agreement would symbolically reconnect the large Macedonian community in Queanbeyan with their homeland.

"There is not too many Japanese here so the sister city with Minami Alps is easy to run. But this is a little bit different. There are a lot more people involved," he said.

The two-term Councillor said the proposed agreement would enrich ties for the Macedonian community, but provide a benefit to the community as a whole.

"The Macedonians here already know about their rich culture, but I think it will open eyes for the Italians, the Australians and all the other cultures in Queanbeyan," he said.

In 2011, the Council agreed, in principle, to the cultural partnership. It's planned that Councillor Trajanoski will join Councillor Overall on a trip to Europe for a formal signing of the agreement in July, pending sign-off from the Council. The proposal includes USD 1,500 set aside to cover the two Councillors' accommodation costs, but Trajanoski said the money would be better spent on hosting guests in the future.

"If the rest of the Council thinks that some sort of money should be paid that is fine, but I would be personally against it. I would be pushing to have a budget set up for when they come. I don't want to be embarrassed when people come here and it's important that we are a good host," he said.

The Council will consider the proposed agreement at an extraordinary meeting on May 1.

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