Macedonian President, 2002 World Methodist Peace Awardee Dies

Skopje, Macedonia, Feb. 27:
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia President died in a plane crash in a mountainous region of southern Bosnia en route to an international investment conference to be held in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, 47, and Six of President's aides and two pilots also were killed, leaving no survivors when the government flight in which they were traveling crashed near the village of Bitonja shortly after 7 a.m GMT, on February 26, 2004. Poor weather had been blamed to this fatal accident.

Boris Trajkovki, a United Methodist who helped unite his country and was admired by many circles for his skills at peacemaking and bridge building won him "World Methodist Peace Award" in 2002.

"It's a tragic loss for the United Methodist Church and the whole Methodist family," the Rev. R. Randy Day, General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church was quoted as saying.

Rev. Day, said the entire church was proud of Trajkovski's accomplishments, both as a political leader and faithful lay leader of the church. "He was proud of his Wesleyan religious roots, he was an active partner in the United Methodist global mission network. We will miss his warmth, humor and wise counsel," he added.

Trajkovski, who often assisted during services at a United Methodist church in Skopje, had been active in the church since his childhood in Strumica. And he even remained president of the church council after being elected president of Macedonia.

Trajkovski studied theology in the United States, where he gave up communism and converted from Orthodox Christianity. An ordained Methodist minister, his powers were divided with those of Macedonia's prime minister.

He was elected in 1999 as Macedonia's second president in history, Trajkovski pledged to serve all citizens of the tiny Balkan republic, regardless of ethnicity. He soon faced two big challenges to fulfilling that promise.

He is widely respected in Macedonia for his neutral stance in the former Yugoslav republic, where tension time and again rise between Macedonians and the country’s ethnic Albanian minority following a war in 2002. And his neutral stance has impact upon this conflict and neutralizes the situation from eroding it to worse.

Trajkovski is survived by his wife, Vilma, and two children.