Macedonian Patriotic Organization

Macedonian Tribune - Tribune Excerpts

Taneff explains his job during banquet

The following article appeared in the October 2009 Edition of the Macedonian Tribune

During the banquet, Thomas Taneff, Macedonia's Honorary Consul General in Columbus, not only welcomed everyone to his city, but also gave a glimpse into who he is and his work for Macedonia.

"In Macedonia, Patrice Koerper is known by her first name, kind of like Madonna," he told the crowd. Tom was born in Canton, Ohio, and at the age of two, the family moved to Columbus.

Five years later, the family closed the house, packed up their belongings and moved to his mother's village Gaveto – between Bitola and Resen – to try to make a life in Macedonia. He attended the same school as his mother, and Macedonian was his first language. Less than two years later, the family moved back to Ohio.

His mother had emigrated from Macedonia in 1955 and settled in Lackawanna, N.Y. His father emigrated two years later on the last freighter to go through Ellis Island. He had been born right on the shore of Lake Prespa where his family lived.

"About six or seven years ago, I came up with the idea to build a villa in Gaveto. To own property in my name in Macedonia, I had to apply for a dual citizenship. The late Ambassador Jordan Vesselinov helped me tremendously with all of this," he explained adding that his grandfather's brother gave him the land.

"And now I have the most beautiful villa in Macedonia, which we visit often." Through this citizenship process, and because he had been politically active with the Ohio Republican Party and its caucus in Washington, he was invited to become an honorary consul. Two years ago his diplomatic credentials – the first in US, came through.

"Besides getting a cool license plate, and on occasion getting out of a speeding ticket, I'm like an unpaid lobbyist. I do it for love of country," he said with a huge grin. "My job is to promote ties between US, Ohio and Macedonia, not only in investment, but also to develop an exchange of trade, culture, music, art and education. It's a fun job."

"It's an honor and a privilege, and I thank Oliver (Krliu) and the Macedonian Embassy for the honor and privilege. If I can help any of you in this room I will do what I can to help.

He explained that Bitola's mayor contacted him to initiate a Sister City program – to intensify the relationship between Macedonians in central Ohio and the people of Bitola. It also is a way to get political involvement with local officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

By continuing these programs around the world, it amplifies who Macedonians are and what they stand for.

"Unfortunately, budgetary cuts have made it impossible to entertain such an offer at this time, but the door is open for 2010. I am confident we will have a sister relationship at some time."