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A selection of Macedonian blogs in Greece
Aegean Macedonian Culture
Anti-macedonian policy during the elections for the European Parliament against Rainbow by the Greek state and the Greek mass media
A scandal by the Parliamentary committee
Greek TV stations sabotage EFA-Raibow
Ultra-nationalists want "borders with Serbia"!
"Hellenic Post" sabbotages EFA-Rainbow Campaign
Typical example of censorship of Rainbow
Attack of the Greek Neo-nazi party
A Greek - Macedonian dictionary by Vasko Karatza printed with the support of EFA - Rainbow
"Extracts of Letters"
Τι έλεγε κάποτε το ΚΚΕ για τους Μακεδόνες
Denying Ethnic Identity:
The Macedonians of Greece, by Human Rights Watch
Linguistics and politics II:
Greece's stance towards
its Macedonian minority
and the neighbouring
Republic of Macedonia.
and Omitted Truths
R. Nikovski: Memorandum to the European Parliament
Facts behind the Greek politics towards Macedonia
"Proposed disciplinary measures to stamp out the Macedonian minority in Greece by the National Security Service"
Memorandum to the European Parliament:
Facts behind the Greek politics towards Macedonia
April 19, 2008
By Risto Nikovski
The Macedonian people find it hard to believe that a contemporary mosaic of democratic and law abiding European states today can cause them such problems. How can this be happening in a place where tolerance is synonymous with culture?
1. In April 1993 the Republic of Macedonia’s invitation to join the United Nations was brutally violated even though Macedonia fulfilled all criteria of article 4. Because of Greece’s strong pressure two new conditions were imposed resulting in Macedonia’s denial to enter the UN under its historic and constitutional name; accepting it instead under the burdensome temporary reference “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. Here the UN ignored the fact that its own general council in 1948 adopted a resolution which strictly prohibited the introduction of new conditions for entry in this world organization. This however was done without precedence or legal means prohibiting Macedonia from entering the UN by its chosen name. This is a classic example of where rights, laws, rules and procedures are circumvented to make room for strong politics. Unfortunately it is this kind of behaviour that caused the Republic of Macedonia to endure economic and social hardships.
2. To fulfill its own illegitimate aims, in the early 1990’s, Greece blockaded the Republic of Macedonia’s border for nearly two years. This by the way was also a European Union border. The blockade cost the Republic of Macedonia a fortune in losses and brought economic hardship and suffering to the Macedonian people. Greece blockaded all Macedonian products going through the port of Salonica the only port accessible to this land-locked country. Greeks did this in violation of article 5 of the GATT agreement which guarantees uninterrupted and obstacle free transit of all goods. The fourteen other European Union States took Greece to court in Strasburg and for almost two years did nothing to expedite the case in spite of Macedonia’s daily suffering. Then in 1995 when the Interim agreement between Macedonia and Greece was signed and the illegal blockade was lifted, the European court dismissed the case pretending that the blockade never happened. This is another classic example where politics dominated over fairness and justice. The Republic of Macedonia could just as well have blockaded Greece but it didn’t and allowed Greek trains and trucks with goods to flow through Macedonia freely.
3. According to the Interim Agreement (Article 11), which is an internationally supported document, signed and supported by the UN, Greece is obliged not to prevent the Republic of Macedonia from joining international organizations and associations in which Greece is a member. With that obligation Greece officially has no right to veto. Unfortunately Greece did not respect that right and it did not respect its own international obligation when, in April 2008 during the Bucharest Summit, it undertook measures to block Macedonia’s entry into NATO even though the Republic of Macedonia had fulfilled all necessary criteria required for membership; the same criteria by which Greece was accepted as a member in NATO. Furthermore Greece threatened to undertake measures to block Macedonia’s entry into the EU.
4. Looking behind Greek politics with the name one can see that the problem they have is the name defines the Macedonian peoples’ ethnic identity. It is not the name that they are concerned with but the Macedonian identity. Before Yugoslavia’s breakup Greece officially used Macedonia’s historical and constitutional name then part of the Yugoslav Federation – (Socialist) Republic of Macedonia. This is revealed in its own notes in correspondences with its own General Consul in Skopje. The problem surfaced with the breakup of Yugoslavia. Greece was worried that with an independent Republic of Macedonia it would mean unequivocal affirmation of the Macedonian people, which, sooner or later, would lead to the inescapable opening of the Macedonian question in Greece: how they were treated, their current position and the whole rights issue associated with a Macedonian ethnic minority in Greece. This minority is the basis of Greek politics in relation to the name with the Republic of Macedonia. Greece is living the myth that its population is homogeneous and therefore does not recognize the existence of ethnic minorities which, among other things, is indisputable. The existence of minorities and their maltreatment by Greece is affirmed by the yearly human rights organization publications, including those of the US and the EU.
5. Greece’s problem is the existence of a separate Macedonian ethnic identity which is hidden in the name of the country. For decades Greece has been convincing generations of its own people that Macedonians do not exist. That is why the aim of Greece’s strategy is to change the name, in order to destroy the Macedonian peoples’ identity. As long as there is no France there can be no Francs, without Denmark there are no Danes … the logic follows: as long as there is no ethnic source for the Macedonian identity, there can be no Macedonian ethnic identity and no Macedonian minority in Greece!
6. The Greek absurdity with regard to the Republic of Macedonia’s name is best observed in the slogan “Greeks are Macedonians”! Prior to the 1980’s no Macedonians existed, now Greeks are Macedonians. How can that be? Did this identity just appear out of nowhere? These are baseless allegations without substance which can’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny. For example: where are these Macedonians? When did these Macedonians allegedly appear? How did they become Macedonians? Did they appear in a census? What language do they speak? What is their history? Allegations alone are not proof.
7. Greece for the first time in its history gained access to part of Macedonia’s territory in 1913 after the Second Balkan War. Never before did part of Macedonia belong to Greece nor was it under Greek control! Greece received parts of Macedonia and Thrace by the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest and up to the middle of the 1930’s officially called it “Newly Acquired Territories (or “New Greece”) After that the region was renamed to “Northern territories” and this name was used up until August 1988 when it was again changed.
8. Because there was a large Macedonian population that Greece acquired with its part of the Macedonian territory it annexed after 1913, which it intended to assimilate, the name “Macedonia” was forbidden from use. Never in its own history has Greece used the name “Macedonia” prior to August 1988. Then when it became very clear that Yugoslavia was breaking up, the Greek Prime Minister by decree informally renamed the region to Macedonia and Thrace. In other words, this part of the region was not a part of any administrative-political division of land. In parallel with this three districts were created and named “Western Macedonia”, Central Macedonia” and “Eastern Macedonia and Thrace”. That means that IN GREECE THERE NEVER WAS NOR IS A PROVINCE CALLED “MACEDONIA”! This is another one of Greece’s many manipulations, which is accepted by all without question. Even if there was such a province by that name, it can hardly be an obstacle to a name of a sovereign state.
The Rule of Championship
9. The Republic of Macedonia carries its name from 1944, when a Macedonian state was proclaimed. The Republic of Macedonia WAS THE FIRST STATE TO MAKE USE OF THE NAME MACEDONIA and with international rights, rightly defined by “Qui prior est tempore, potior est jure”, NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO DISPUTE THAT NAME.
10. All this time Greece stood firmly behind its position on the name while its primary aim has always been to destroy the Macedonian identity. From the beginning Greece strongly insisted that the Republic of Macedonia eliminate the word “Macedonia” from its name. With the extorted Lisbon declaration of 1992 Greece obtained the support it needed from the European Union to begin the long and absurd campaign against Macedonia’s name, forgetting the fact that the Republic of Macedonia has full rights to use the word “Macedonia” since its entire territory lies inside historic and geographic Macedonia. It is a well known fact that the Republic of Macedonia encompasses [37.8 %] of Macedonia’s entire territory and Greece should have no problem with that just as the Republic of Macedonia has no problem with Greece using the name “Macedonia” for its own purposes in accordance with international standards and agreements.
11. Given all these facts, it is clear that Greek propaganda claiming to have reached two thirds of the way to achieving a compromise is pure manipulation. Their insistence that they have arrived at a compromise “willing” to “permit” the Republic of Macedonia to use the word “Macedonia” in its name is absolutely unsupported. There is no evidence to show that Greece has even moved a millimeter from its original position to which it is stubbornly clinging and is using to make entirely categorical demands. Greece has yet to make it clear why it is insisting on making the use of the name “Macedonia” exclusive?
Change of tactics
12. When it became very clear to Greece that it could in no way dispute the use of the word “Macedonia” in its northern neighbour’s name it changed its tactics and began to insist that the meaning of that word be made conditional to NOT symbolize the Macedonian ethnic identity. Greece’s tactics may have changed but its aims, it appears, remained the same: to destroy the Macedonian ethnic identity. This became apparent by the way the Greek minister of foreign affairs Dora Bakoyannis reacted to the comments of US Under-secretary Daniel Fried on April 8, 2008 when he said “The Macedonian language exists. Macedonian people exist. The ethnicity is – you know, it’s just a fact as far as I can tell.” Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told media Tuesday that “these kinds of comments are not useful for talks.” She further commented that Greece will not get involved in “this kind of discussion”! How then is it possible that today one can ignore an entire people?
13. Given the extreme stand imposed by Greece on the process of finding a solution to the problem, the Republic of Macedonia showed much cooperation and flexibility, even though every argument and fact supported its side. Up to this day the Republic of Macedonia has made every effort to placate Greece by agreeing to make concessions including changes to its constitution giving Greece guarantees that a) it will not change its borders and b) it will not interfere in Greece’s internal affairs with regard to the Macedonian minority living inside Greece. It is interesting to note that even though Greece claims it does not have or recognize a Macedonian minority on its soil it was more than happy to accept such a guarantee. The Republic of Macedonia also changed its flag on account that the symbol on it was contested by Athens. There is also a need to mention the fact that the Badinter Arbitration Committee which was charged by the EU with the responsibility to evaluate the qualification of the former Yugoslav states for international recognition, found that the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia fulfilled all criteria to qualify for recognition. A commission of top legal experts which included the presidents of five constitutional courts from member countries clearly concluded that the word “Macedonia” in the name of the Republic of Macedonia did not imply any kind of territorial aspirations.
14. The Greek thesis that it is afraid of “Macedonian irredentism” is very difficult to support. The idea of a threat from “Macedonian irredentism” is a pure Greek invention. Greece’s brutal block of the Republic of Macedonia’s entry into NATO is a guarantee to create irredentism and not to eliminate it but this irredentism is not from Macedonia towards Greece but from others towards Macedonia. Greece’s assumptions of “Macedonian irredentism” are not only false but even if there was such a thing how can it be supported with 8 thousand soldiers against an army of 240 thousand? Greece has an army of 240 thousand soldiers armed with the most modern NATO armaments while Macedonia has only 8 thousand soldiers and four helicopters, two of which are permanently grounded. So whose “territorial integrity” is truly in danger?
15. If there is any irredentism it is on the Greek side. The Greek side continuously uses the slogan “Macedonia is Greece” which implies what? What else could it imply except aspiration for more of Macedonia’s territory! Just a while ago the Bishop of Salonica announced to the world that parts of the Republic of Macedonia, the Bitola region in particular, needs to “be with Greece.” In contrast the Macedonian minority living inside Greece has always been loyal to Greece in spite of all the wrongs Greece has committed against it since 1913. The Republic of Macedonia has entirely supported Greece on that. There are always extremists everywhere but no extremist Macedonian can be found in Greece who talks about irredentism.
16. Greece’s opinion that some kind of “Greek cultural heritage” exists in the Republic of Macedonia is not only a myth it’s pure Greek manipulation of history. All the lands that were once part of Alexander the Greats’ vast empire have the right to equally share all the symbols from that period. The Skopje airport is no exception. No one needs to depend on or obtain permission from Athens to share this heritage. The renaming of the airport to “Alexander the Great” may have been done at an inappropriate time but nonetheless the Republic of Macedonia has full rights to use the name no matter what Athens thinks. No one should have exclusive rights to the ancient heritage. Ancient history belongs to all of humanity.
Commitment to Good Neighbourly Relations
17. In spite of Greece’s inflexibility and attitude towards the Republic of Macedonia, Macedonians are still willing to talk and search for a compromise solution to the Greek problem. The compromise however cannot be allowed, under any circumstance, to touch on the identity of the Macedonian people or place the Macedonian state at a disadvantage in the world scene. No one has the right to prohibit the Republic of Macedonia from using its rightful name in bilateral and multilateral relations. “Macedonia” is a symbol of the “Macedonian ethnic identity” just as Germany, Italy, Switzerland and other countries are symbols of their ethnic identities. It is very sad that Greece’s single aim is to stop that symbol and by doing so destroy the Macedonian ethnic identity. The Macedonian people refuse to believe that Europe can be party to or allow such an act to take place.
18. The way Greece is acting with its current politics it is threatening to destabilize not only the Republic of Macedonia but the entire region. Commitment to good neighbourly relations cannot be just for the new democratic states and not for NATO and EU members. Greece has the potential to become a leader in the region, an example for the other countries. The Republic of Macedonia is wholeheartedly interested in getting over the Greek misunderstandings and opening wider relations and cooperation. The Republic of Macedonia has much respect for Greece as an old ally and as its logical promoter into its Euro-Atlantic integration. Unfortunately so far Greece has made the mistake of working against such a process and threatening the peace and stability of the region.
19. The foundation of values in most Western styled states is their legal system. By that definition the European parliament is the highest democratic symbol of legality in Europe by which justice can be served over all else. The Republic of Macedonia is now at the juncture of testing this justice. Will European justice triumph over regional self serving politics? Only time will tell.
20. The Macedonian people find it hard to believe that a contemporary mosaic of democratic and law abiding European states today can cause them such problems. How can this be happening in a place where tolerance is synonymous with culture?
This memorandum is directed at the European Union Parliament which, by the end of the month, must produce a report about our country. It needs to be forwarded to all parliamentarians preferably hand delivered in person. With minor adjustments, this memorandum can be used for other means such as disseminating the truth about the name dispute. Very few people know the truth about the name dispute including those in power who make decisions. Doris Pac, a European Parliamentarian, who is involved in the Balkans and is expected to know a great deal about these things, is a prime example. Only recently she made a comment in Skopje which not only proved her lack of sensitivity but also her lack of knowledge about the name dispute.
Risto Nikovski, the author of this article, is also a diplomat.
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to read the Abecedar!
Promotion of the
Primer at the OSCE HDIM
Greek irredentism and expansionism officially sanctioned by the Greek Parliament
Letter to Carla del Ponte,
Chief Prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
The Yugoslavian Crisis
Document of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs
Related to the article - The obvious linguistic particularity - Eletherotypia, 18/11/2006
The ten Greek myths
on the “Macedonian issue”
By IOS team – Eletherotypia, 23/10/2005
Who says there are no
minority languages in Greece?
The "secret" census
in north Greece, in 1920
Map showing the Cultures and Languages in the E.U.
Council of Europe
Framework convention for the Protection of national minorities
Συνέντευξη: Ευάγγελος Κωφός, Έλληνας ιστορικός
Δημοκρατία της Μακεδονίας - Σκόπια είναι όνομα που εκφράζει την ταυτότητά σας
Ο Παύλος Φιλίποβ Βοσκόπουλος απαντά στον Ευάγγελο Κωφό.
«Το Μακεδονικό ζήτημα είναι η αχίλλειος πτέρνα του ελληνικού μύθου».
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