A letter for Macedonia

Dear friend,

You might be surprised why Greece is so strong and unified on this issue of the “name” of Macedonia. You might even have a human and just tendency to be supportive for the weak; which in this controversy is our northern neighbour (FYROM) and not us. You might for this reason also be angry against an “arrogant” Greece, for not allowing a poor country to name itself according to its desire.

I would like to give you a perhaps different and more balanced perspective of the situation. Most of us were 100% with our government, in vetoing the admission of FYROM in NATO. But we do not back everything that we did on this issue the past 15 yeas. As often the case, not all the fault is on our opponent. Most of us dismiss demonising nations.

There is little historical doubt that ancient Macedonia and Alexander the Great have nothing to do with FYROM. It totally beats us to understand how people can wish so much to identify with an era and a civilisation with whom they have absolutely nothing in common.

But you will respond; “So what? They may have zero relationship but they still like the name. On what grounds can you really deny to them the right to use this name. What is the problem with Luxembourg being an independent state as well as a province of Belgium. You can, similarly, have your Macedonia region and these people can have their Macedonia country. This is the mainstream way that outsiders would react. And it is understandable.

But, there are huge differences between what goes on in Luxembourg and what goes on in the Balkans. Differences which you may have read in the books but that you don't really understand. Differences that we have experienced on our back a lot of times.

FYROM is launching for many years now a black propaganda against Greece. You may have seen how they changed our flag, making a Nazi symbol out of the cross. Or dressed the prime minister in Nazi clothing....

And there is far more of this propaganda that you have not seen. This is the real problem.

This propaganda claims that half of Greece, north, is their territory. This is what they say in the school books and display in their maps. The so called “Aegean Macedonia”. An utter nonsense of course but they dare spell it our unashamed. This is what innocent and ignorant young people say. Do click on the video here (a bit in Greek at the beginning but then in english) and you will appreciate the confidence with which the young generation in FYROM is convinced that towns 300 Km away from the borderline, inside our country, belong to their nation. Do you think that this can happen accidentally? Or is it rather the result of brainwashing along the years. Not to mention the nonsense they are spreading out about persecutions, even nowadays, against their many compatriots that, according to them, reside in Greece !!

Of course Skopje is weak and the voices cannot be heard. But allow us to be more sensitive. Not only because we are more close but because we understand the region better. Because we have shed blood in the region fighting against the Nazis and fighting against the stalinist plot for an independent Macedonia.

Any comment Mr. Bush? Forgetful? Or rather ignorant? Here was the US policy on the matter in 1944

This Government considers talk of Macedonian 'nation', Macedonian 'Fatherland', or Macedonian 'national consciousness' to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece. The approved policy of this Government is to oppose any revival of the Macedonian issue as related to Greece."

Secretary of Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., U.S. Secretary of State, December 26, 1944

It is the sheer fact. The idea of an ethnic Macedonia is, at the end, nothing more than a Stalinist construct, to serve Stalin's expansionist policy in the area. A construct that Tito also took over and built upon for his own nationalistic agenda. A construct that even the Greek communists is their unprecedented naivety endorsed and supported for some years at least (although, as always the case with them, never officially repented for their treacherous policy in the name of Stalin's interests).

A construct that is absurd and ridiculous.

There is no Macedonian nation. The geographic area of Macedonia at the beginning of the 20th century was inhabited by Turks, Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians and Jews. In a period of nationalistic fervor everybody (apart from Jews) claimed that Macedonia was his. But nobody, n o b o d y, claimed that he was Macedonia.

Then, fierce wars broke out in an effort to draw a line in an area where so many nations co-existed. First there was a war of a christian alliance against the Turks (Balkan war I). And then between the Serbs and the Greeks against the Bulgarians (Balkan war II).

At this point, I can also confess to you some historical truth that we, Greeks, disrespect. We claim, rightfully, in our schoolbooks, a brave war against the Turks. But we say nothing about the catalytic role of Bulgaria, that was twice as brave. Even more. We must be honest with history. Bulgaria could have done better in the area. Its army in the first Balkan war was bigger than that of Serbia, Montenegro and Greece together. It had far more casualties compared to Greeks and Serbs, when it more than anybody else humiliated and devastated the Turks and reached outside Constantinople. Perhaps because of this, it was easy prey when the alliance broke and they engaged in war with their former partners (Greeks and Serbs).

It is surprising to me how silent Bulgaria stays on this matter. As it has a just historic claim in the area contrary to the communist artefact of Skopje. But after decades of communist rule, starvation and humiliation they have apparently little interest for these stories...

After the two Balkan wars a line was traced in the georgraphic area of Macedonia. Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria each got its part. And it was only Stalin and nobody else who fathered the concept, discovered and raised the issue of a Macedonian state several decades later...

Greece is accountable for two grave policy failures in managing this matter.

First, it failed to manage this situation 15 years ago when we could have easily settled with a mixed name, North or whatever other, Macedonia. This was our failure; mainly a result of the childish attitudes and idiotic nationalist positions of the Exterior Minister of the conservative party of the time (Antonis Samaras) but also of the extreme and polarising position that the influential socialist party took on the matter those years (embargo against FYROM, etc.).

The second failure is that we failed to reveal at an international scale the true essence of the issue. The red, stalinist, roots of the issue. And the black propaganda that is unfolding in FYROM for years and the total and systematic distortion of historical facts which will certainly create a frustrated, an unfulfilled generation, with false and, why not, offensive, aspirations.

This said, no matter how small and weak FYROM may appear nowadays, the Balkans are notorious for their surprises and the wax and wane of countries.

You should therefore not expect any change of our position. Stalin engineered the concept of the "Macedonian" state in the 40s; This is the fact. He, and not Alexander the Great, is the one and only legacy FYROM draws upon.

Whenever the occasion allows, please do take a closer look to the emerging ideology in FYROM and contribute perhaps in bringing the people there back to reality.