ADDRESS BY DR. NAKRATZAS
TO THE EUROPEAN FREE ALLIANCE
(May 12, 2000)
Address by George Nakratzas to the Euro-MPs of the European Free Alliance
Brussels 12 May 2000
I should like to begin by thanking you for inviting me to speak here today on the subject of the introduction of the Macedonian language into the Greek education system.
It is not a new issue, for it has been pending since 1924, when the representatives of Greece and Bulgaria signed the Politis-Kalfov agreement in New York, seat of the League of Nations. The agreement concerned the protection of the Slavonic-speaking Macedonians in northern Greece and made provision for the introduction of the Macedonian language into the Greek education system.
The Macedonian language textbook for schools, the Abecedar, which was based on the Slavonic dialect of the Florina/Bitolj area, was printed in 1925 in Athens. It did not find its way into the schools, however, because on 2 February 1925 the Greek parliament refused to ratify the Politis-Kalfov protocol.
Although I'm not an ethnic Macedonian myself, I take a very close interest in this issue, mainly for ideological reasons.
Greece is making great strides in its efforts to meet the economic and administrative standards required of a full member of the European Union. But it will never be able to conform ideologically with the EU unless it adopts the European ideology of the of a policy of genuine protection of minorities.
It was protection of human rights, which in practice is mainly expressed through the implementation Erasmus who first gave philosophical expression to the question of human rights, in sixteenth-century Holland. Since then it has taken five centuries of constant struggle and wars, with millions of victims, to convince the European intelligentsia of the need to abandon the ideology of the nation-state and replace it with that of a multiethnic structure, as represented today by the European Union.
A multiethnic Europe could not exist without a mulitcultural Europe. The ideology of European multiculturality together with the principle of regional economic self-administration ¯ I repeat, regional economic self-administration ¯ will constitute the two firm ideological foundations that will ensure the continuity of the European Union and, as a result, the ultimate abolition of war in this part of the continent of Europe.
The most precious cultural treasure possessed by any nation is its written language. History has shown that any people whose language has no written form or is not allowed to be written is sooner or later condemned to cultural extinction.. Herodotus tells us that the ancient Thracians were the most numerous people in antiquity after the Indians. Yet despite their huge population, the Thracian people disappeared culturally precisely because they had no written language.
It is totally unacceptable that Greek society, and the Greek government with it ¯ the government of a member of the European Union ¯ should weep and wail for the Kurds in Turkey and their right to learn their mother tongue in school, while at the same time refusing to allow the ethnic Macedonians in northern Greece be taught their mother tongue. And what's worse, the Greeks deny the very existence of the ethnic Macedonians.
In my book, The Close Racial Kinship between the Greeks, Bulgarians, and Turks, copies of which I have distributed to the EFA Euro-MPs, I mention all the villages in northern Greece whose inhabitants once spoke or still speak the Macedonian language on an daily basis at home.
For all these reasons, I urge the politicians of the European Union, and more specifically the Euro-MPs of the European Free Alliance, to put increasing pressure on the Greek government to introduce the Macedonian language into the Greek education system for those Macedonians who want it.
I am also of the opinion that in 2001 the European Union could take the mother tongue of the ethnic Macedonians in Greece under its protection and declare it an endangered language.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak here today and for listening to me so patiently.