Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pan-Macedonian to nationalist UMD

The Panmacedonian Federation of Australia deplores the thoroughly racist, historically inaccurate Advertisement appearing in “The Australian” newspaper on 23 May 2007 by various “Macedonian” community organisations. That advertisement seems calculated to incite racial hatred and raises the spectre of irredentism, attitudes that are completely un-Australian. Certainly the claims made in the advertisement are not shared by the majority of Australians whose origins stem from the geographic region of Macedonia, and it is ironic that this advertisement was published in the context of a visit to Australia by the Macedonian Prime Minister of Greece, Mr Kostas Karamanlis.

In the advertisement, it is claimed that Greece “seized Southern Macedonia.” The implication is of course that this territory rightfully belongs to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In subtly calling for a ‘revision’ of borders, the advertisement’s sponsors conveniently neglect to mention that the geographical region of Macedonia was awarded to Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania after the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 by the international community, on ethno-linguistic lines. At no stage was there any consideration of a “Macedonian” ethnic identity by any of these nations or the international communities, simply because that ‘identity’ did not exist at that time. In an age of consensus and peace, why are the so-called “peaceful Macedonians” advocating a revision of borders set in 1913?

Much ink is further spilled in attempting to convince the reader that the human rights of “Macedonians” are not protected in Greece. Nothing could be further from the truth. Greek local government officials have fostered a spirit of cross-border co-operation with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and cultural exchanges are common. Much aid is sent by Greece to FYROM. A political party known as Rainbow-Vinozhito, which openly claims that there are tens of thousands of ethnic “Macedonians” living in Greek territory is permitted freely to take part in the Greek electoral process, despite not being able to advance any evidence to back its claims.

The sponsors of the advertisement can advance no evidence for their claim that “Macedonians” are being denied the right to study their own language and promulgate their culture in Greece. Indeed, their claim that Greek citizens have their land confiscated for doing so is fallacious and defamatory, considering that there is no such mechanism allowed for in Greek law.

Perhaps the sponsors of the advertisement could explain why, in ‘democratic’ FYROM, the local primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Jovan, has been incarcerated, for refusing to adopt a ‘Macedonian’ identity?
Could they also explain why the Greek, Albanian, Vlach and Roma minorities in that country have no right to education, religious instruction in their mother tongue?
Could they explain why it is that so many members of ethnic minorities in that country have had their names forcibly changed so as to appear more ‘Macedonian?’
The FYROM government’s record on Human Rights is a sordid one, even to the extent where its persecution of its local Helsinki Committee for Human Rights President Mrs Mirjana Najcevska caused the intervention of several international organizations.

Finally, we ask why it is that the sponsors of the advertisement insist upon a culturally exclusivist and racist definition of the word Macedonian.
According to them, a Macedonian is a person who speaks the official language of FYROM and identifies himself as ascribing to an identity set out by its government.
According to them, the many Albanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Roma, Serbs and Turks who reside in the wider geographical region and have done so for the same amount of time, do not have the right to identify with their homelands, or to call themselves Macedonian.
Adopting this logic would be akin to a non-native minority in this state denying others the right to call themselves Victorian.

The Panmacedonian Federation of Australia, being a federation of various Macedonian organizations, condemns the malicious and false allegations in the advertisement and commits itself to supporting the cohesive, peaceful and tolerant fabric of Australian society. Sadly this is not achieved by name-calling, calling for the revision of borders and denying other peoples’ right to self-identification. It applauds the Australian Government’s current position on the naming of FYROM as the only sensible and viable solution, until such time as the government of FYROM and the people who identify culturally with that republic, understand that they cannot use rcial criteria to deny others the right to identify themselves as Macedonians.

Yours faithfully,

Dimitris Minas


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