Thursday, July 31, 2008

These that Gruevski omitted in his letter

Article by Constantinos Holevas, Political Scientist, antibaro,gr, 19th July 2008,
translated into English by Captain Agras, 27th July 2008
or fair use only

The content of the recent letter (14/7/2008) by Nicolas Gruevski sent to the Greek Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, did not surprise anyone with a historical knowledge of the region or a keen interest in the ongoing ‘Macedonian’ issue.

Of course the current differences between Skopje and Greece are nothing new nor are they merely limited to the ‘name’ claims by the Skopje side. This dispute has a substantial historical background and is intimately linked with Skopje’s openly expressed irredentist-destabilizing aspirations. The “minority rights” issues recently raised by the FYROM leadership are intended to promote these aspirations.

Ironically, looking at these recent events from the Greek perspective one needs to be grateful to the FYROM Premier. The obvious and outrightly blind fanaticism openly expressed and endorsed by a large part of the Skopje side should serve as a wake-up call to all Greeks who by now should realise what will be the totally negative outcome of any bilateral agreement whereby the term “Macedonia” is included in any composite name of the Skopje State. Instead of facing head-on the real financial problems it is confronted with, and instead of facing the real and grave secessionist dangers from the large resident Albanian element, the Slavic nomenclature has decided to expand the agenda of the dispute with Greece. Within this context they seek the re-introduction of the so call “minority problem” as well as property issues of the ‘refugee children’ or ‘Deca Begalci’ in their terminology.

Reviewing Mr Gruevski’s letter I note that he leaves many issues unanswered.

For example, he does not tell us the truth concerning many of those who were born in Greece and in 1949 fled to Tito’s Communist ‘Socialist Republic of Macedonia’ and who years before (during Greece’s occupation by the Axis in 1941-1944) had openly expressed pro-Bulgarian sentiments and affiliations and enthusiastically collaborated with the Bulgarian allies of the Nazis, and the infamous Bulgarian Ohrana Police Battalions –operating in Both Macedonia and Thrace. Those very people (especially in Western Macedonia) in the aftermath of the Axis (including Bulgarian) defeat in 1944 and in order to avoid the dire consequences of their treason and collaboration decided, literally overnight, to make a drastic and highly opportunistic change of their political affiliations and national consciousness.

Virtually overnight, these collaborators of the Bulgarian fascist occupation transformed, as if by magic, to left-wing Slav-Macedonians fully committed to the propaganda and designated aims of Tito. Thus from 1946-1949 they fought for the secession of Macedonia and Thrace from Greece. But this time they wore the cloak of Communist Internationalism and followed the rhetoric of the ‘class struggle’ ideals. Having tasted defeated twice and within a relatively short time, and fearing that justice for their actions was rapidly approaching they decided to flee from Greece and went over to Skopje. Since then they become the basis and the cornerstone of the pseudo-Macedonian propaganda. Many of them afterwards immigrated to the USA, Canada and Australia carrying with them every bit of hatred and fanaticism towards anything Greek, bringing with them the very same sentiments that had guided their actions in the past.

I ask Mr Gruevski, therefore, is he proud of the fact that his actions are supported and indeed championed by all those who were enthusiast collaborators of the Bulgarian and Nazi occupiers? Or is he trying reward all those people and organisations that fought hard to decimate and brake up Greece? Since he so strongly supports those Slav-Macedonian separatists of 1946-1949 he must be surely in full agreement with their aims and targets. From this perspective he should see nothing wrong then when the Albanians tomorrow ask precisely the same from FYROM! Or perhaps Mr. Gruevski you believe that this is a totally different case opting therefore to adopt double standards? On the one hand, to see all those who fought against the territorial integrity of Greece allowed back to Greece and rewarded and on the other hand, to use force against those who you consider a threat to the territorial integrity of your country, as was the case with the Albanian separatists back in 2001? It will be very useful to mention to Mr Gruevski that if he insists in the reinstatement of the “rights” of all those who acted against the territorial integrity of Greece then Greece itself would be fully justified in being indifferent, unsympathetic and indeed in refusing any help when the real danger of secession knocks once again on FYROM’s door.

And since Mr Gruevski talks about the issue of property reinstatement for FYROM’s former Greek-born Slavic émigrés and their descendants, it would be very helpful if he could tell us what happened to the properties of the Greek Sarakatsani residents of the Communist ‘Socialist Republic of Macedonia’ who were persecuted mercilessly, tortured and then expelled. Even their sheep herds that formed the basis of their livelihood were confiscated and many of them now live in the Thessaloniki suburb of Eleftherion-Kordellion. Are we justified, Mr Gruevski, to ask you for their moral and material compensation?

Mr Gruevski speaks of Human Rights and believes that he has the moral standing to give Greece lectures on this topic, reminding us that our country is a member of the EU and NATO. Can he therefore tell us what are the rights of the indigenous oppressed Greek minority that today lives in FYROM? This largely Vlachophone population is a remnant of the once thriving Hellenic centres in Monastiri, Ohrid, Krusevo, Merihov, Resna, Strumnica and Geugeli and even today these people are forbidden to declare their Hellenic decent and to be taught the language of their ethnic origin. In the official census both prior to and after 1991 it was strictly forbidden to anyone to declare that they are of Greek decent.

Moreover, it would be useful to ask Mr Gruevski what Human Rights his country has secured for the legal representative of the Orthodox Church, the Archbishop of Ohrid and Skopje Mr John Braniceski. Is it true that this clergyman has been jailed twice with forged evidence and that his churches were destroyed because he flatly refused to use the terms ‘Macedonia’ and ‘Macedonian’ in his title? Today he lives in self-imposed exile in Thessaloniki at the University he graduated from.

These are only a few of the items that Mr Gruevski conveniently omitted from his letter. Is Mr. Gruevski’s belligerence perhaps a direct result of what he interprets to be our submissiveness?

Monday, July 28, 2008

FYROM PM Gruevski’s “Macedonism” Boomerang

Article by Athanasios Ellis, Kathimerini, 27 July 2008
Translated into English by Captain Agras

The manufactured “Macedonism” that Nikola Gruevski tried to promote over the last few weeks has turned into a diplomatic boomerang for him. His attempts to dilute, to re-shape and finally to distort the content of his dispute with Greece have all but miserably failed. The UN, the EU and even the USA have all distanced themselves from the “Macedonian minority” issue that Gruevski tried to raise, whilst the notion that the Prime Minister of the neighbouring country not only does not seek an honorable to solution to the name issue but is even prepared to sacrifice the stability of the entire Balkan region for his own political gains internally, gains credence internationally.

Gruevski’s downward roll in the path of arrogance, which is now being observed by the international community with skepticism, my in the short terms bring him internal political gains, but in the longer terms damages the interests of his country and his people since it takes them further away from the security of NATO and the prosperity of the EU. At the same time, with his spasmodic actions, he damages even further whatever prestige he may have had left after the violence and fraud which marked the elections of the 1st June.

The Prime Minister of FYROM has been doubly “unlucky” since the “timing” has not worked out in his favor either. At the time when he sought to invest in an individually tailored ultra nationalism, the arrest of Radovan Karadic has come to remind us of the disaster that ultra nationalism can create in the Balkans. Even when nationalist ideology makes a comeback, even in a milder form, it remains analogously equally disturbing. Despite the ambivalent position of Greek governments, in the past, concerning irrepressible nationalism which happened to come from “friendly” countries, the latest elevation of the problem with the arrest of the former leader of the Bosnain Serbs and his probable trial at the International Court for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, does not provide fertile ground for Gruevski’s irredentist claims.

Mathew Nimitz

The actions of FYROM’s Prime Minister have worried Mathew Nimitz also, who in accordance with the Security Council resolutions and the Interim Accord of 1995 remains devoted to the resolution of the real bilateral problem between Greece and FYROM, which is the agreement on an acceptable name of the latter. The last thing that the international negotiator would want now is an unending discussion concerning additional issues which would forestall any successful conclusion of his current mission. At the same time, he is not elated with what amounts to the undermining of the long-time negotiator Nikola Dimitrov [by Gruevski] with whom he had established a relationship of trust.

The UN Negotiator will continue with his efforts during August, and September is thought to be critical, when world leaders and Foreign Ministers will gather in New York to participate in the UN General assembly, at a time when the Bush presidency is nearing its end and the EU will be preparing to consider the prospects for FYROM’s future entry.

Having received encouraging signs on the name “North Macedonia”, Mr. Nimitz sought to take advantage of the situation and to submit a complete proposal with the hope that it would be accepted within the fall, 13 years after the signing of the Interim Accord where he himself participated as assistant to Cyrus Vance.

Greek Diaspora

Dora Bakoyianni, who will be at the UN Headquarters during the last ten days of September, will be ready to join in meaningful discussions if Mr. Nimitz decides that enough progress has been achieved which would justify the “final move” for the achievement of an agreement.

At the same time, just one month before the presidential elections, the head of Greek diplomacy will take advantage of her presence in the USA to meet with the sizeable and influential Greek communities in New York and in Chicago, where Barack Obama is elected. The Democratic candidate has co-signed, together with the well known philhellene Senator Robert Menendez and Olympia Snowe, a Congress Resolution calling on FYROM to cease all irredentist activities and to cooperate productively with Greece for a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.

Leading members of the Greek community believe that the potential election of Obama will create a more favourable climate for Greece in relation to the FYROM name issue. In contrast, the republican candidate, John McCain, is likely to move in the direction set by the Bush administration, especially since amongst his close advisors there are former collaborators of the government of FYROM.

The American Position

Even Washington, who has proven to be the strongest supporter of FYROM, did not follow Gruevski on the lonely road that he chose. And this, because the maximalist nationalism that the FYROM Prime Minister espouses basically entraps the policy of the Bush Administration in the Balkans, since it distances the possibility for an agreement on the name, and consequently, the possibility of FYROM gaining entry to the NATO alliance.

Publicly, Washington steers clear of taking a public stance and restricts itself to stating that a solution to the name issue must be found as soon as possible. Privately, however, American diplomats state that they are not surprised by the “inappropriate” behavior of Mr. Gruevski and they admit that this is interfering with the negotiations on the name issue. At the State Department, there are signs of a general apprehension, since the apparent “dead end” in the relationship between Athens and Skopje is creating serious hurdles to the application of US foreign policy in the Balkans. Not only has the objective of FYROM’s entry into the NATO alliance not been achieved, but recently Senators Menendez and Snowe “froze” the appointment of the new US Ambassador to Skopje, Philip Riker, incurring the ire of Condoliza Rice

In fact, Olympia Snowe in a recent letter urged Condoleza Rice to “encourage FYROM to stop violating the terms of the Interim Accord and to recognize her with the name that will be agreed by both countries”. The State Department replied that it is applying pressure on both governments to “intensify their efforts and against internal groups and to avoid provocations and other non-helpful actions which may be interpreted as counterproductive for the negotiations”. Despite the attempt (by the State Department) to keep “equal distances”, it is clear that Mr. Gruevski was the intended recipient of this message.

In theory, the White House can overcome the problem by appointing an interim ambassador during the Senate’s programmed spring break, a move that would, however, provoke tension in the relationship of the government with the External Affairs Committee, something that President Bush would prefer to avoid as he depends on the Senate’s support on other more significant foreign affairs issues.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Recycling Propaganda: Remarks on NGO Reports on Greece's "Slav-Macedonian Minority"

Between November 1993 and October 1994 various NGO reports focused on the alleged ethnic "Macedonian" minority living in Greece. Supported by a number of books and articles published during the same period, NGOs argue that "Macedonian" is a primordial ethnic identity embraced by a considerable proportion of the population of Macedonia and still corresponds to a sizeable but suppressed and violently assimilated ethnic minority in Greece.

The below paper written from Vlassis Vlasidis and Veniamin Karakostanoglou is not intended to challenge the apparent ideological obstacles that an ethnic nation-state like Greece faces when it has to deal with minority issues.
It seeks to contest the generalising character of these accounts by revealing
-the misuse of data and terms
-the use of deceptive data
-the selective use -indeed the recycling- of biased bibliographical sources.

The general line is that international observers have failed to give an objective view of the minority question in Greece. Basically this was due to a general misinterpretation of ethnicity in the Balkans and to various political necessities which unfortunately seem to be assessed together with human and minority rights.

Recycling Propaganda: Remarks on Recent Reports on Greece's "Slav-Macedonian Minority"[1]
by Vlassis Vlasidis - Veniamin Karakostanoglou
Macedonian Press Agency-Institute for Balkan Studies , 1996
For fair use only

Between November 1993 and October 1994 various NGO reports focused on the alleged ethnic "Macedonian" minority living in Greece. Supported by a number of books and articles published during the same period, NGOs argue that "Macedonian" is a primordial ethnic identity embraced by a considerable proportion of the population of Macedonia and still corresponds to a sizeable but suppressed and violently assimilated ethnic minority in Greece. This paper is not intended to challenge the apparent ideological obstacles that an ethnic nation-state like Greece faces when it has to deal with minority issues. It seeks to contest the generalising character of these accounts by revealing (a) the misuse of data and terms, (b) the use of deceptive data, (c) the selective use -indeed the recycling- of biased bibliographical sources. The bottom line is that international observers have failed to give an objective view of the minority question in Greece. Basically this was due to a general misinterpretation of ethnicity in the Balkans and to various political necessities which unfortunately seem to be assessed together with human and minority rights.

1. In less than twelve months, between November 1993 and October 1994, at the height of the controversy over the recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (hereafter FYROM), at least five different NGO reports have focused on the alleged ethnic "Macedonian" minority living in Greece. They all share an extremely critical point of view of Greek policy. I nNovember 1993, Professor Erik Siesby, on behalf of the Danish Helsinki Committee was the first to submit a fifteen-page long report on The Slav Macedonians in Greece. Lois Whitman, Deputy Director of Human Rights/Helsinki Watch, and her staff, followed in April 1994 with a most detailed booklet of 85 pages, under the poetic title, Denying Ethnic Identity. The Macedonians of Greece. These two accounts were the result of a joint visit to Greek Western Macedonia in July 1993. A similar visit by two Oxford dons followed in May 1994. The report was prepared basically by a journalist, Noel Malcolm, and was sponsored under the hitherto unknown British Helsinki Human Rights Group. It was entitled Macedonian Minorities: The Slav Macedonians of Northern Greece and the Treatment of Minorities in the Republic of Macedonia and drew a lot from the previous counterparts by Helsinki Watch. Siesby's and Whitman's views have been incorporated in the annual report by the International Helsinki Federation published in the fall of 1994. Whitman's account was also mentioned as a source in the U.S. Department of State annual report on Human Rights Practices in Greece for 1994, although the Department's authors were careful to keep distance form Whitman's far-fetched assertions and conclusions. In the same period (fall 1994) Minority Rights Group International published its own review on the Southern Balkans. Its intention, as it is openly stated by the editor Alan Phillips (see p. 5), was to focus on the Greek case exclusively; but after second thoughts it was considered preferable to expand the scope in order to avoid a misinterpretation of their motives. In any case the chapter on "The Slavomacedonian Minority in Greece: a case study in Balkan nationalism" occupies almost one half of the report. It was prepared by Minority Rights Group Greece, that is -in name at least- by its Greek representative Mr Panagiotis Dimitras, a lawyer who had also escorted Sies by and Whitman in their Greek Macedonian expeditions in 1993 and apparently had been the main contributor to their reports. The very same year the MRG International reprinted for the third time Hugh Poulton's book, The Balkans: Minorities and States in Conflict, first published in 1989, whose views and conclusions on "Macedonians" in Greece fully correspond with the above mentioned reports [2] . Indeed it appears that Poulton was the basic source of all these reports. Similar views by the same author can be traced in the 1989 report (No 82) of MRG International on Minorities in the Balkans, as well as in a chapter on "The Rest of the Balkans", which he prepared for a book on Minority Rights in Europe published in the series "Chatham House Papers" in 19943. Students of Balkan affairs would be reluctant to accept the view that the publication of all these reports has been purely coincidental. Indeed these twelve months (1993-94) have coincided with a period when relations between Greece and FYROM had reached a dead end. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that the heated international discussion of the Macedonian Question and the minority issues which are part of it have attracted the interest of the relevant NGOs. After all, it is their task to monitor the living conditions of minorities, which during periods of international crisis, as a rule, deteriorate considerably. However, a thorough examination of these reports has revealed certain interesting aspects that cast a shadow on the objectivity, if not the motives, of their authors. The terms, the arguments and the sources employed indicate that foreign observers have become active participants in the prolonged controversy between Greece and FYROM. In other words instead of examining the minority issue ad hoc, i.e. outside its obscure diplomatic framework, these publications seem to have contributed significantly to the crisis by creating additional points of friction and misunderstanding.

In brief all four reports as well as Poulton's studies and some recent anthropological articles, convey the impression that:

(a) "Macedonian" is a primordial ethnic identity embraced by a considerable proportion of the Christian population of Macedonia and still corresponds with a sizeable ethnic minority in Greece.
(b) Since 1912 this alleged minority has been suppressed and assimilated by the Greek State.
(c) Persecution of the minority at various levels is still practised widely and systematically by the Greek authorities.

In support of these arguments an extensive -at least at first sight- bibliography has been employed, together with interviews, xeroxed documents, and accounts of human rights violations. The uninformed reader as well as most foreign politicians and diplomats, NGO activists and journalists are exposed to dozens of references to scholarly publications, even to unpublished articles, statistics, decrees, state gazettes, and textbooks which allegedly testify to the writers' competence and industry and guarantee the objectivity of their views. This critique will not venture either to present historical counter arguments for each single point made in the reports or to undermine the validity of their interviews with the authors' informants. Instead it will seek to challenge the generalising character of their accounts (i.e. the idea of an on-going "ethnic cleansing") by revealing (a) the misuse of data and terms, (b) the use of deceptive data, (c) the selective use -indeed the recycling- of biased bibliographical sources

2.1. To start with, it would be interesting to examine the views of the organisations' observers about ethnic identities, an issue which has been the subject of many anthropological studies. For Erik Siesby the existence of a Macedonian ethnic identity in Greece is self-evident since there is a distinctive and corresponding language. This is perhaps why most of his points, actually one third of his report, deal with the language rights both in the past and nowadays. As a lawyer he even produced the testimony of a linguist who verified that the official "Macedonian" language spoken in FYROM exists! However, throughout his report Sies by used various terms, like "Slav-Macedonian", "Macedonian" and "local Slav-Macedonian" as identical to each other. Had he tried to define their content, as other observers after him did, he would have realised that they correspond to extremely ill-defined groups of people, bilingual, Greek- or Slav-speaking, of Greek ethnic identity in their overwhelming majority. Groups which in any case would all agree that linguistic criteria are not only insufficient to denote ethnic nuances in the Balkans; they can also be misleading.

2.2. Others appear to be more familiar with local problems of identification -at least at first sight. Whitman mentioned in her report (see p. 1) that during her field work in Greek Macedonia she had met "ethnic Macedonians" who identified themselves as such and they accepted their slavic origin; she also encountered "Macedonians" who claimed to be Greeks of Macedonian origin and "Greeks not of Macedonian descent" who considered themselves as "Greek". Then, on page five of her report, she regrouped the population of Greek Macedonia into two lots: the locals of Slavic origin (settled around the 6th century) and the Greeks, many of whom are inter-war Asia Minor refugees. It would be interesting to know how and to whom the questions were asked and phrased and how they were translated from English into Greek and vice versa, since in the Greek language the terms "ethnic" and "national" are used as identical, while katagogi -another term which must have been employed often in the discussions- means not only ethnic but geographical origin as well. In any case Whitman and her staff opted (see p. 1 note 1) to use the term "Macedonian" to refer to members of the "ethnic Macedonian minority" in Greece. The majority of the Slavophone inhabitants of the districts visited would hardly agree with this conclusion, as they identify themselves as Greeks. It is interesting to learn after all why representatives of Helsinki NGOs appear to discard the right of a person to self-determination -as sanctioned by CSCE documents on the Human Dimension- and assume for themselves the role of detectors of such identification based on linguistic or historical data of dubious validity.

Whitman's choice can only be understood if two points are clarified: American observers although they copy a widely acceptable definition of ethnicity, appear to believe that it is a primordial and pure identity with immutable characteristics and tend to ignore that it is historically constructed. This is perhaps why they believe that people who claim to be Greek but are of "Macedonian origin" (i.e. "they descend from a Slavic group which settled in the area around the sixth century A.D."!) must be classified as "ethnic Macedonians".

The second point is the bibliography which has been used. When searching for arguments in support of a distinct Macedonian identity reference is made either to an anthropologist, Loring Danforth [4], who relies exclusively on secondary FYROM sources, or to interviews with a limited group of activists in Greece. Similar problems with bibliography can be traced in all issues dealing with the fluctuations and the actual size of the "minority": For the number of "ethnic Macedonians" in 1912 Hugh Poulton is cited as an expert [5], but the latter is using also FYROM post 1945 secondary sources only [6]. In the case of inter-war demographic changes in Macedonia Poulton (using the FYROM historian Hristo Andonofski [7 ] as well as Elizabeth Barker [8] is cited again. In both cases the figures are mistaken. In another case (see p. 8) the number of the Slav-speaking men and women of the so-called Democratic Army who fled to Yugoslavia after the end of the Greek Civil War (1949) is estimated at 35,000 to 213,000! The lowest figure is drawn by Evangelos Kofos9, but it is deceitful because Kofos clearly says that this figure includes also people who had been drafted by force. Surely the source was not checked properly. The upper limit is also a mistake. It is based on p. 82 of Macedonia and its Relations with Greece (Skopje, 1993) published by the "Council for Research into South-eastern Europe" of the Macedonian (i.e. FYROM) Academy of Sciences and Arts. In support of that figure in particular, in this latter publication, reference is made to the communist newspaper Protoporos, issue of 15 May 1946, that is even before the beginning of the Civil War. If readers are to believe that the correct figure lays in between they are wrong again.

American observers' difficulties in assessing the sources and in using valid criteria is also evident when they eventually deal with the present size of the minority. Four different sources are cited, but the figures given are not compatible at all. Activists think that all non refugee Greeks in Greek Macedonia are "ethnic Macedonians", whom they estimate to be one million. FYROM officials claim some 230-270,000 co-nationals in Greek Macedonia. The 1951 Greek census gives 41,000 Slav-speakers. The 1992 State Department report mentioned 10-50,000 people descendants of Slav-speakers but refrained from characterising them as "ethnic Macedonians". Again the confusion between language and ethnicity is obvious.

2.3. The theory of Noel Malcolm, the observer who prepared the chapter on Greece for the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, is in no less problematic than that of Siesby and Whitman. He seems to accept that race and language determine ethnicity (see pp. 1-2). On these grounds Slavophones in northern Greece (whose "ancestors came to this part of the Balkans in the Slav migrations of the sixth and seventh centuries") are classified willy-nilly as "Macedonians" (potentially a FYROM national minority in Greece) [10]. Malcolm's obvious partiality to FYROM on the question of identities is not an exceptional phenomenon in his report. Unlike Siesby and Whitman, he has made clear that he relies more comfortably on FYROM sources regarding figures as well. Thus he considers as the "most careful estimate" of the population in 1912, that furnished by historian Stoyan Kiselinofski [11]. Malcolm also draws figures from the same author for the inter-war period and the departure of Slav-speakers to the north after the Greek Civil War[12]. Additional examples also reveal his uncritical handling of data. Dimitris Lithoxoou [13], a leading member of the "Rainbow" (claiming to be an "ethnic Macedonian" party in Greece) has calculated that the number of Slav-speakers in a certain region of Greek Macedonia in 1951 was 3.5 times higher than that given by the official census[14]. Based on that calculation Malcolm went as far as to claim (p. 6) that the total number of Slav-speakers in the whole of Greek Macedonia was 3.5 higher, that is 140,000 instead of the official 41,000. Even Mr Lithoxoou, however, has been more cautious in dealing with figures. As far as the present size of the minority is concerned his verdict is that it must be ranging between 40,000 and 100,000. These figures are based on two social anthropologists: The former is an anonymous one, which, according to Malcolm, mentions a core of 40-70,000 "ethnic Macedonians" and an associated circle of roughly 100,000. The latter is A. Karakasidou, who wrote that 80% of the population of the Florina region are either Slav-speakers or descendants of Slav-speakers[15]. Two points must be made here: why are anthropologists considered by Malcolm a reliable source for figures? In fact Karakasidou mentioned explicitly that this percentage is not official and used the conditional form ("I would estimate") probably to express some doubt. But even if her figure was right, to move to the second point, descending from Slav-speakers does not make one necessarily an "ethnic Macedonian".

2.4. Anastasia Karakasidou's academic influence is also obvious in the report prepared by Panagiotis Dimitras (Minority Rights Group - Greece, MRG-GR ), a paper heavily loaded with references to a rich but standardised bibliography. In particular MRG-GR reproduces roughly her theory on the classification of the population in Greek Macedonia[16]. Four groups of inhabitants are mentioned: (a) Those who have a "Macedonian" national (i.e. FYROM) identity; (b) those who identify themselves as neither Greek nor FYROM nationals and seek recognition of their cultural specificity; (c) the largest group, assimilated "Slav- Macedonians" with a Greek ethnic and national identity and (d) pure ethnic Greeks with a Macedonian Greek regional identity. Dimitras uses the term "Slavo-Macedonian" but throughout the report one can hardly distinguish between the first and the second group (see for example p. 14 where he is referring to those identified with FYROM as "militant Slavomacedonians"). It is inevitable that in the mind of a careless reader by the end of the MRG-GR (i.e. Dimitras') report all groups have been unified into one, the "Slavomacedonians", who are classified as more or less militant but definitely not as ethnic Greek. All these contrary to the author's initial and explicit statement that the overwhelming majority of them claim the opposite (p. 7).

As in other NGO reports problems in terminology acquire additional importance when they are related to figures, estimates and censuses. MRG-GR, for example, makes reference to a Greek scholar, Professor Mavrogordatos, in order to question the validity of the official 1928 census which estimated Slav-speakers in Greece as few as 82,000. The report claims that "Slavomacedonians", according to the Greek scholar cited, were probably 200,000 (p. 12). But the full text used reads: "Contemporary Greek reports estimate that as many as 200,000 'Bulgarian'-speaking inhabitants live in Macedonia, of whom no more than 80,000-90,000 are considered to be lacking a Greek national consciousness..." [17]. Further on, if one checks Mavrogordatos' reference, he will find that he has cited two reports both by a high-school inspector submitted to the Association for the Dissemination of Greek Letters in Athens[18]. Regardless of the actual text and the questionable validity of its sources one is finally left with the impression that "Slavomacedonians" (whatever one thinks this term means) were roughly 200,000.

In the same fashion gross errors can be easily spotted when MRG-GR ventures to estimate the present size of the minority (p. 14). Its argument is based on four sources: (a) Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year 1987, which gives 180,000; (b) an anonymous ethnologist (apparently the same anthropologist mentioned by Malcolm), who gives 200,000; (c) Anthropologist Riki van Boeschoten gives 100-150,000; (d) "Conservative" Greek prefects, who talk of 100,000 Slavophones. The unexpected (to say the least) conclusion for MRG-GR is (p. 15): "Therefore the 200,000 estimate for the Slavomacedonian community seems reasonable. Among them a minority of a few tens of thousands, a figure growing since the beginning of the recent Macedonian imbroglio, have a non-Greek consciousness". The last part of this conclusion is based on Karakasidou and Danforth, but if references to their articles are checked, then it becomes clear that none of the two says anything about "few tens of thousands" nor about "a growing figure".

3. The second pillar of the NGO reports is the alleged violent assimilatory policy implemented by the Greek state in Greek Macedonia. According to the observers the first period of such practices covered the span from the Balkan Wars to World War II. The main charges against the Greek state refer to its unfulfilled educational obligations towards the minority, to the change of Slavic surnames and toponymes names into Greek, to the abolishment of Slavic scripts, even to the prohibition of free expression in Slav-Macedonian and the deportation of Slav-speakers.
Some comments must be made on these accusations. The source of the observers on minority educational issues used is Hristo Andonofski (either directly or indirectly via Poulton) [19]. The same author is also used to substantiate the rest of the accusations, in addition to a FYROM state publication (Academy of Sciences and Arts, Macedonia and its Relations with Greece, Skopje, 1993) [20], and reports prepared by Greek Civil War political refugees or their descendants from Greek Macedonia now living in FYROM or in Australia (see for example Chris Popov and Michael Radin, Contemporary Greek Government Policy on the Macedonian Issue and Discriminatory Practices in Breach of International Law, Melbourne, 1989). The use of selective non-Greek sources by the aformentioned writers does not necessarily imply that the inter-war policy of the Greek state, especially under Metaxas' dictatorship, or, indeed, of many states in Europe during this period, was non-assimilationist. Nor does it imply that this policy, whatever it was, is justifiable. It is just one more an indication of the observers willingness to accept at face value all kinds of partisan allegation and also to use past practices in order to corroborate modern accusations.

Full acceptance of the sources, however, sometimes might be troublesome. Only few examples will suffice to show the shortcomings of an unreserved and perhaps ill-prepared case.

(a) Lois Whitman took for granted (p. 6 note 15) an undated report by the Association of Refugee Children from "Aegean Macedonia" which said that by Law No 87/1936 Slavic surnames had to be changed. Similar references are given by Popov and Radin. Still, all of our attempts to trace state laws calling for the change of surnames were in vain. And certainly the law cited is quite irrelevant to the subject mentioned. Non-Greek toponyms, however, names in Greek Macedonia were changed in the 1920s, following certain State guidelines, which were normally followed in such cases by nation-states.

(b) Malcolm as well as MRG-GR make reference to Karakasidou's above mentioned article toconfirm charges for torture and ill-treatment of "anyone" who would speak "Slav-Macedonian". Karakasidou herself, however, does not provide such information; in her introduction she cites such an allegation, made during a conversation she had as an anthropologist, with one informer during field work in a grocer's store. Two NGOs have made a point implying massive harassment, based exclusively on that comment.

(c) References by MRG-GR to substantiate deportation of "many" Slav-speakers from Greek western Macedonia to Crete are based on citations from books by S. Kargakos, and A. Tounda-Fergadi. The first citation, to Kargakos, mentions a deportation from one village in Thrace; the second, to Fergadi, again refers to Thrace. Indeed deportation from Bulgarian villages along the railway line in Thrace took place during the last months and shortly after the Greek Army's Asia Minor campaign (1922), when Bulgarian armed bands were threatening the rear of the Greek Army. By any stress of the imagination these Bulgarian nationalists from Thrace could hardly qualify as Macedonians. Unfortunately it was impossible to check Whitman's point about the deportation of 5,000 Slav-speakers from Greek western Macedonia during Metaxas' dictatorship. Poulton is again her source, but his reference is to the official Istorijata na Makedonskiot Narod [History of the Macedonian Nation] (Skopje, 1969, pp. 271-275) which lacks further references.

(d) The case of Abecedar, a Slav primer using Latin, not Cyrillic, characters produced in 1925 by the Greek state for Slav-speaking Greeks, is mentioned by all organisations because it was no tforwarded to the villages in spite of Greece's international obligations. Had anyone done some real research on this he would have found that there are official interwar documents which testify that the books were indeed forwarded. But they were withdrawn after some noisy demonstrations took place, organised by the Slavophones themselves [21], rejecting the books as an insult to their Greek identity. But even if these demonstrations had not taken place and the books were successfully forwarded, the Slav-Macedonian, like any other traditional language, had few if any chances to compete effectively with the official state language which secures economic and social advancement.

One of course understands the sensitivity to infringements of human rights. Using however a country's past record on this question in the selective way that is being done these days raises questions about the motives of all these retrospective reports. When it comes to past infringements others would have been more appropriate targets. Isn't it reasonable to ask after all whether the tough post-war behaviour of Britain in the colonies, the persecution of Jews in inter-war Germany, the cleansing of Indians in 19th century U.S.A., the slaughter of Protestants in 16th century France and the expulsion of Muslims and Jews alike from 15th century Spain are monitored, re-evaluated and re-assessed every year together with modern incidents of human rights violation in these countries?

4. Post-war evidence of terrorism exercised by the Greek state upon Slav-speakers is no more accurate than the alleged inter-war infringements. The basic arguments are three:

(a) After the Greek Civil War [22], the villages or houses abandoned by Slav-speakers, were given to "nationally minded" citizens (else "with healthy national consciousness"). No villages are mentioned, no numbers, no records. Indeed transhumant pastoralists were settled only in few deserted villages (no more than a dozen) along the northern part of the Greek-Albanian border but the relative law made no reference whatsoever to their national loyalty. The inverted commas, which give the impression that the expression has been cited from official Greek sources, is a long story. On the issue of the alleged "colonization" both Malcolm (p. 6) and MRG-GR (p. 13) cited Poulton [23]. Poulton has copied (and translated) the very expression from Mojsov ("so zdrava nacionalna svest") [24]. Mojsov, in his turn, cited a conversation between two Greek Ministers during a debate in a parliamentary sub- committee for foreign affairs in the mid 1950s; but he did not mention his source. Therefore cross-checking is impossible.

(b) The establishment of kindergartens and nurseries was deliberate in order to accelerate the promotion of the Greek language among Slav-speakers. The importance of such institutions for educational or social reasons is obvious but it does not necessarily indicate that they were designed for the alleged purpose since the measure was implemented nation wide. In addition no observer is willing to consider other factors which might explain in a different way the implementation of such a policy within agriculturists, e.g. shortage of manpower, due to overseas emigration, calls for more intensive work of housewives in the fields.

(c) Peasants in Greek Western Macedonia were forced to take a public oath, declaring they would never use their mother Slavic tongue again. Whitman says (p. 8) that such ceremonies took place in "several" villages and (p. 40 note 59) "in the villages around Lerin, Kostur and Kajlari the inhabitants were asked to confirm...". MRG-GR says in "many" villages, and Poulton that "villagers were asked to make public declarations" (p. 6). MRG-GR is drawing information from Greek newspapers, Malcolm from Poulton, Poulton from Andonofski (who also talks about "several" villages) [25] , Whitman from Danforth, Danforth from Stoyan Pribichevitch [26], Pribichevitch from the American Consul General in Thessaloniki, and the last one most likely from the Greek newspaper Ellinikos Vorras (July 8, 1959, August 5, 1959, August 11, 1959). In fact such oaths were indeed taken by villagers after church service under yet unknown circumstances, probably at the initiative of local officials. Apparently they were discontinued once they became known to authorities in Athens. But the villages were definitely no more than three out of a total of 2,500 communities scattered in Greek Macedonia [27].

5. Obviously the most significant accusations refer to the treatment of minorities after the restoration of Democracy in Greece in 1974. To corroborate these accusation the four NGO reports list at least 17 judicial cases against "Macedonian" activists. Such cases are also named in the State Department 1991-1994 reports; six cases are mentioned by Poulton, four by Danforth and one by Karakasidou. The record appears depressing indeed, not to mention additional allegations for ethnic discrimination in the army, in the public sector, in education, preferential treatment of refugee descendants at the expense of the indigenous peasants, even attempts to change toponyms and to hinder the public use of the Slaviv dialect. Under these seemingly appalling circumstances -testified to also by Whitman, MRG-GR, and Siesby- the International Helsinki Federation decided to include some extremely negative comments about Greece in its annual report for 1993 (see pp. 57-58).

It must be understood in advance that during the five year period covered by the afore mentioned reports cases against Slav-Macedonian activists taken into court were four in all and involve three individuals (Mr Christos Sidiropoulos, Mr Anastasios Boulis, Mr (ex-rev.) Nikodimos Tsarknias) and one association (where Mr Sidiropoulos and Boulis were also involved). To put it in a different way these cases are not typical examples; they constitute the whole record available. This critique is not to apologise for any unfair persecution nor will it defend either the Greek judicial system or the Ministry for Justice. But it must be stressed that numerous cancellations and appeals to higher courts, year after year, have artificially increased the record. Moreover, the same record was unjustifiably overloaded by extra references to cases which are related to the recent rise of national feelings in Greece but not to the activists' actions or welfare. It is also astonishing that observers have failed to notice that the involvement of the state in these trials has been minimal. In fact, in almost all cases taken to court, relevant or irrelevant to minority rights, complainants were private individuals [28]. They also failed to make clear that not a single activist in these trials has been imprisoned or served any sentence.

In the category of legal problems one could possibly include the cases of Law 3370/1955 on the Greek nationality and Ministerial decree No 106841/29 Dec. 1982 on the free repatriation and return to Greek citizenship of political refugees of the Greek Civil War of 1946-1949. They both accept as a criterion of implementation the ethnic identity (genos) of the citizens and apparently contradict the Greek Constitution. For this reason they are considered by the a aforementioned reports as indispensable evidence for the unfair treatment of ethnic minorities in Greece. A better understanding of these laws requires a deep knowledge of the Macedonian Question and its special and complex relation to the Greek Civil War, when Greek Macedonia became the target of Yugoslav territorial expansionism using Slav-Macedonian activists in Greece as a vehicle for these aspirations. Fears associated with the danger from that direction die hard. Only in such a historically informed context may one evaluate -not necessarily justify- the function of such laws and decrees in Greece. Unfortunately observers are reluctant to understand and explain but more apt to judge and condemn.

Alongside these legal problems one can trace in all reports a second distinct category of arguments which aim to substantiate current discrimination against Slav-Macedonians in all aspects of everyday life:
One complained that during his military service someone has called him an "agent from Skopje", because his place of origin was a Slav-speaking village. One activist resigned from public service when he was transferred to an island.

Two entrepreneurs complained that their clients vanished when they became actively involved in minority affairs. Another said that his child was harassed at school by its class-mates for having spoken in Slav-Macedonian on teachers' orders. In one dispute over land rights between two communities, which has already been taken into court, some expect, even before the trial, that the court decision will favour the village of Greek speakers and not the one of Slav-speakers. Once a local festival was interrupted by a prefect who disapproved of Slav-Macedonian songs. One village name was changed from Slavic into Greek. Very much alike the first category, all these cases have one point in common: they are unique and not typical cases which have been publicised by the same persons, that is those implicated in the trials. Weak or rare cases like the above do not imply that all evidence from the handfull of activists should be dismissed a priori. But they do suggest that given the provenance and the extremely limited number of cases occasionally, observers should be more cautious. Most of them, for example, have bitten the bullet about a 1982 Greek national security service document urging not to employ "Slav-speakers" in the public services in the Florina region (Greek Western Macedonia). The documentwas partly published in a journal issued by the Society for Minority Rights (i.e. MRG-GR). Among those who had worked for the preparation of that issue (No 1, January 1992) were Mr Dimitras, the writer of the 1994 report and Mr Lithoxoou. The same document was also published as an annex to the proceedings of a public debate where Mr Lithoxoou and other MRG members had actively participated [29]. All observers agree [30] that this well known document is sufficient evidence for official discrimination against Slav-speakers. Had observers asked Mr Dimitras and Mr Lithoxoou to have the whole document translated for them they would have been surprised to read that, in one of the last paragraphs, it recommends the preferential employment of Slav-speakers in all public services, and particularly in the Army, the Security Services and elsewhere. Be that as it may, the alleged report -if one does not contest its authenticity- appears to be a series of recommendations by a public security official. There is hardly any evidence that they were ever transformed into government policy. A similar blunder can also be traced in Malcolm's report (p. 11): he wrongly thought that the "Rainbow" party was excluded by the Greek Supreme Court from the 1994 European Parliament Elections and he commented this decision as a "political mistake" because he said, "even the Ouranos (i.e. the "Rainbow") spokesman did not expect his list to receive more than 20,000 votes". In 48 hours the Court's decision was repealed and indeed the "Rainbow", supported by some minor splinter Communist parties, took part in the elections and received approximately 7.200 votes nation-wide. The result made clear once again how mistaken observers' speculations can be when they take all activist information at face value.

6. Once again it must be stated that this critique is not intended as a challenge to the apparent ideological obstacles that an ethnic nation-state like Greece faces when it has to deal with minority issues, but to stress that international observers have failed to give an objective view of the minority question in Greece. Basically this was due to a general misinterpretation of ethnicity in the Balkans. In this region ethnic identities have been constructed rather recently (in fact it is a still on-going process in certain countries) not exactly on linguistic foundations and they do not denote people of the same national origin, as many Americans would have thought, judging from their own U.S. experience. Thus, the distinct Slavic dialect spoken in certain villages in Greek Macedonia does not necessarily certify the existence of an ethnic minority.

However, some additional short-comings which are found in abundance in these reports must be clarified more explicitly:

(a) Testimonies and various data concerning the past and the present of Slav-speakers have been derived only from activist sources. In fact there is not even one single argument, piece of information, citation or reference of those employed by the observers, which can not be found in the activists' publications. On the contrary, opposite views and data are in exremely short supply.

(b) Most of these data have initially been published in FYROM, sometimes even by ultra nationalist circles, but this does not seem to undermine their validity at all, as far as NGOs are concerned. All information available is taken at its face value.

(c) Articles and other sources in English reproduce the same kind of data originating most of the times from the very same FYROM sources, a fact which foreign observers seem to have failed to notice or have disregarded completely.

(d) MRG-GR members, minority activists, the documents' producers, the writers of the reference articles, "Rainbow" party members, observers, interviewers, victims, and informers are the same individuals, members of a small community who cooperate cordially for the reproduction of the necessary "evidence".

(e) All reports seem to rely more on past than on present evidence of human rights violation, a tendency which cannot be tracked in similar reports on other countries.

(f) Present data included in the reports tend to reproduce older but not always standing stereotypes (e.g. locals vs. refugees); as they are insufficient they are artificially increased by mixing various cases only indirectly connected with the minority issues concerned. This is known as "patchwork fallacy". The use of terms like "in one example" (Whitman, p. 40), "some attempts" (Malcolm, p. 9), "some", "from time to time", "often" (MRG-GR, p. 15) tend to imply that the cases refered are indicative, typical or the most striking examples available. Indeed they are unique.

(g) A variety of major or minor errors and a reluctance to deal with some revealing aspects of the Macedonian Question (for example the Communist factor) reveals that observers tend simply to reproduce a standardised file of xeroxed leaflets, pamphlets, articles and other translated documents given to them. But they do refrain from carrying any research at all which might change their clean-cut view (evil state vs. suppressed peasants) which is indispensable in order to substantiate prefixed ideas and biased conclusions.

It is obvious from the above that the reports in question have not been written simply to inform. In fact some statements and comments which have been included -occasionally pompous and more suitable to politicians rather than to observers- make it clear that these NGOs feel confident enough to urge even the implementation of an unfavourable policy towards Greece based on their reports. Apparently, as it was asserted in the first paragraph of this study, the preparation and the publication of these reports is by no means irrelevant to the charged atmosphere of the Balkan crisis nor to Greece's policy vis-?-vis Milosevic's Serbia and the recognition of FYROM by its neighbours. It could also be pointed out that by blaming Greece, NGOs "balance" smoothly their critique for more severe minority violations in Greece's neighbourhood (i.e. in Albania, FYROM, Bulgaria and Turkey). Finally it could be argued reasonably that NGOs are working for the protection of minorities and are pro-minority by definition. Bearing also in mind some diplomats' and NGO activists' support of small states, the criticism of alleged Greece's minority policy is easily interpreted after all, especially in the context of the lengthy and acute dispute between Athens and Skopje. But, on the other hand, FYROM diplomats and politicians exploit the very same reports as internationally recognised and neutral views to support their minority claims against Greece. Therefore, it should be emphasized, that assisting the democratization and economic development of small and weak states does not necessarily require the direct or indirect justification of their irredentist claims as well.

Concluding, the authors of this critique would like to make clear that their comments as to the shortcomings of the particular reports under review, should in no way be interpreted as a degradation of the role played by NGOs in general, for the protection of human and minority rights. This function is both necessary and important as a supplement to the role of international organizations like the UN, the OSCE or the Council of Europe. But indeed, in view of the fulfilment of this task, NGOs should maintain a high degree of credibility and objectivity. The arguments presented in this critique aim to promote this objective.

[1]. This study has been benefited immensly by comments and researches of various scholars cooperating with the Institute for Balkan Studies and the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, in Thessaloniki.
[2]. See pp.173-192.
[3]. Hugh Poulton, "The Rest of the Balkans", Minority Rights in Europe, Hugh Miall (ed.), (London: Chatham House Papers, 1994). This critique does not include Hugh Poulton's most recent study Who are the Macedonians ? (Hurst and Company, 1995).
[4]. Loring M. Danforth, "Claims to Macedonian identity", Anthropology Today, 9/4 (1993), 7.
[5]. The Balkans: Minorities and States in Conflict, p. 175 (London, 1994).
[6]. He is citing Todor Simofski's, "The Balkan Wars and their Repercussions on the Ethnical Situation in Aegean Macedonia", Glasnik, 16/3 (1972), 61. It must be pointed out here that Simofski himself is apparently using the Bulgarian professor Jordan Ivanoff's book, La Question Macedonienne au point de vue historique, ethnographique et statistique (Paris, 1920), pp. 186-187 which is based on an early 20th century Bulgarian statistic compiled by Vasil Kancev, an inspector of the Bulgarian schools in Macedonia who naturally counted numerous Bulgarians but no Macedonians at all; see Makedonija. Etnografija i Statistika, (Sofia, 1900), pp. 281-283.
[7]. Poulton is using a paper by Andonofski in English with no references at all. We preferred to use the original work i.e. Hristo Andonovski, "Makedonskoto Nacionalno Malcinstvo vo Grcija, Bulgarija i Albanija", Glasnik, 18/1 (1974), 33, in order to be able to trace down the latter's sources. Again it seems that Andonofski, in his attempt to estimate the number of inter-war refugees leaving Greek Macedonia he used (rather he misused) the classic Bulgarian article by Vl. Rumenov; see "Balgarite v Makedonija pod grucka vlact", Makedonski Pregled, 4 (1941), 90, issued at the time when Bulgaria occupied part of Greek Macedonia and certainly was in need of arguments to support its annexationist aims.
[8]. Macedonia. Its Place in Balkan Power Politics (London, 1950). The British writer is drawing her figures from C. A. Macartney, National States and National Minorities (London, 1934), p. 439 and Stephen Ladas, The Exchange of Minorities: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey (New York, 1932); but both lacked the final report on the exchange of populations between Greece and Bulgaria which came out in 1932.
[9]. Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia (Thessaloniki, 1964; New York, 1993), p. 186 (page ref. to N.Y. edition).
[10]. It is bizarre that for the same author linguistic affinity between east- and west- (i.e. Macedonian) Bulgarian dialects does not imply common ethnic identity (see p. 2). The rhetorical question which must be posed here is: does Malcolm believe that the difference between ethnic identities depends on the degree of linguistic affinity? An affirmative reply would necessarily put in doubt ethnic difference between French-speaking Belgians and French, Austrians and Germans etc.
[11]. Grckata Kolonizacija vo Egejska Makedonija, 1913-1940 (Skopje, 1981), pp. 36-37. A careful reading of Kiselinofski's writings reveals that he had copied the Carnegie Committee 1914 report on the Balkan Wars which also counted Bulgarians and not Macedonians. A further investigation makes clear that the Carnegie Report had presented but not endorsed the above mentioned Bulgarian statistic by Professor Ivanoff. The Greek version of the population break-down had also been given by the same Committee in the same report, which expectedly has been ignored by Kiselinofski, and subsequently by Malcolm.
[12]. It is mistaken to claim that Kofos referred to the emigration and deaths of Slav-speakers as a "beneficial side-effect". The term "beneficial" in his book refers only to those Slav-Macedonians who had collaborated with the Axis forces and Communist Yugoslavia in order to dismember the Greek state.
[13]. An ethnic Greek, resident of Athens, with no links to Macedonia (or to FYROM) and a "Rainbow" candidate for the 1994 European elections.
[14]. Dimitris Lithoxoou, "I mitriki glossa ton katoikon tou ellinikou tmimatos tis Makedonias prin kai meta tin antallagi ton plithismon" [The mother tongue of the inhabitantsin the Greek part of Macedonia before and after the Balkan Wars], Theseis (January-March 1992), 61.
[15]. Malcolm estimated that the 80% refers to a population of 100,000 though the population of the Florina prefecture in 1981 was no more than 50,000.
[16]. It must be stated here that the views cited by MRG-GR, on the various ethnic identities in Greek Macedonia, are not substantiated nor do they form the main argument or the conclusions of Anastasia Karakasidou's paper on "Politicizing Culture: Negating Ethnic Identity in Greek Macedonia", Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 11 (1993), 22-23 notes 2-3. It is also interesting that Karakasidou in the same article accepted that "the bulk of the population in Greek Macedonia is nothing less than Greek", but these views have never been quoted by anyone.
[17]. George Mavrogordatos, Stillborn Republic. Social Coalitions and Party Strategies in Greece, 1922-1936 (Berkeley, 1983), p. 247.
[18]. Op.cit., p. 247 note 49.
[19]. Hristo Andonofski, a former Communist elementary school teacher from Edessa, who settled in Skopje after the Civil War, has published widely on these matters See: "The First Macedonian Primer between the Two World Wars-The Abecedar", Macedonian Review, 1 (1976), 65-69; "Makedonskoto Nacionalno Malcinstvo vo Grcija, Bulgarija i Albanija", Glasnik, 18/1 (1974), 40; "Abecedar-The Primer for the Macedonian Children in Aegean Macedonia", Macedonian Review, 18/1 (1988), 5-10.
[20]. The book has been severely criticised in Greece by Spyridon Sfetas and Kyriakos Kentrotis, "Skopje in Search of an Identity and International Recognition", Balkan Studies, 35/2 (1994), 337-377.
[21]. See for example Istorikon Archeion Ypourgeiou ton Exoterikon [Foreign Ministry Historical Archives], file 1926//37 Ekpaideftika Slavophonon [The Education of the Slavophones], Police telegram to the Ministry of Defence, Sorovich 29 Jan. 1926, confidential No. 280/1. See also the easily accessible Thessaloniki newspaper Ephimeris ton Valkanion, 2 Feb. 1926.
[22]. It is interesting to note that observers willingly accept that during World War II and the Greek Civil War parts of the Slav-speaking regions were under Communist control, without asking the critical questions, whether and why there was a special link between Slav-Macedonian nationalism and Communism. Indeed, it is obvious that all observers have little if any knowledge at all of that period. MRG-GR uses Mavrogordatos interwar study and Poulton (citing Popovski). Whitman makes reference to a six page irrelevant article by Danforth. Poulton gives a three book bibliography but no page numbers which would at least indicate that he had read any part of them. It is better to be considered as a bibliography for further reading rather than sources employed.
[23]. Malcolm wrongly thinks that the expression was used in the decree.
[24]. Mojsov Lazo, Okoly prasaneto na makedonskoto nacionalno malcinstvo vo Grcija (Skopje, 1954), p. 17.
[25]. Andonofski, op.cit., p. 43.
[26]. Stoyan Pribichevitch, Macedonia: its People and History (Pennsylvania State University, 1982), pp. 245-247.
[27]. Additional arguments for past suppression can be found in Malcolm's report such as the claim that Slav-speakers were dismissed from public services in 1954 etc. Needless to say Poulton (i.e. Andonofski) is the only source.
[28]. The only exception is the case of Mr Tsarknias who was persecuted by the authorities for wearing the cloth after being officially defrocked. However, Mr Tsarknias has not been defrocked because he had claimed a Macedonian ethnic identity. Strangely the opposite view has been supported by Hugh Poulton in his work "The Rest of the Balkans", Minority Rights in Europe, Hugh Miall (ed.), (Chatham House Papers: London, 1994), p. 81 and note 19 although his reference is to the Macedonian Information Centre bulletin, 26 Oct. 1992, that is three months before the final decision of the Church.

[29]. Dimitris Lithoxoou et allii, Ellinikos Ethnikismos, Makedoniko Zitima: I ideologiki chrisi tis istorias [Greek nationalism, Macedonian Question: the ideological use of history] (Athens, 1992), p. 75.
[30]. MRG-GR, p. 15; Whitman, p. 45 note 69; Malcolm, p. 8 coping Whitman.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The colorful Mr Gruevski

By Stavros Lygeros
Kathimerini, 24-7-2008

In Bucharest, Greece’s diplomacy trapped the Slav-Macedonians and brought them face to face with their true dilemma: On the one hand is their concept of “Macedonianism” and the fantasy of a “United Macedonia” that this represents, on the other are the tangible benefits of accession to NATO and the European Union.

Nikola Gruevski (the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) won a great electoral victory by promising to join these Western institutions without compromising on the name and identity issues. But he cannot keep his promise. His letters and other actions are nothing other than a desperate attempt to break out of the diplomatic impasse.

The interesting thing about Gruevski’s political personality is that it combines raw nationalism with a mix of honesty, inflexibility and dogmatism. The clowning about with an Afghan tribal leader who was lauded as a descendant of Alexander the Great is just one example. The violence that accompanied the last elections and his persecution of rivals comes out of the same mold.

In time, the political deadlock will wear down Gruevski’s image and influence. Understanding this, he is trying to exploit the current situation to control the machinery of power and find a way to make his policy look substantial. In that sense, it was a mistake for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to reply to his letter.

As long as Gruevski plays at being a crusader for nationalist fantasies, he will sink in the political morass. And as he sinks, he will act spasmodically and rather ridiculously. If he keeps this up, no one will take him seriously internationally. The Greek side should show patience. Only if he gets serious can he negotiate a solution, one that will reflect the reality of the region and not harm the interests of either side. Until then, the price that the Slav-Macedonians will pay will be much greater than they think it is today.

The Macedonian Dispute as a Yugoslav-Bulgarian conflict

Dr. George Voskopoulos in American Chronicle
July 22, 2008

The name dispute between Greece and FYROM has been seen primarily as a conflict between Greece and FYROM. Yet historically the third factor of the dispute was Bulgarian policy and its aim to annex Yugoslav and Greek Macedonia. This very aim gave Belgrade a powerful motive in creating and cementing a distinct, artificial "Macedonian" identity in order to deal with Bulgarophilia. In essence it was an intra-Slav dispute over domination in geographical Macedonia.

The constructed "Macedonian" identity meant to alienate local populations from Bulgaria. Originally the aim was built on a Marxist platform and class consciousness. Indicative of the feud between Bulgaria and the Serbian government is the reported tensions between the two countries. As pointed out by The New York Times reporter Walter Littlefield in March 1924 "the Serbian Government blames the Bulgarian Government for its own inability to establish a stable administration in Macedonia, which includes the territory around the meeting place of the frontiers of these two countries and of Greece. [1]

The two parties expressed their incompatible attitudes during the meetings of the Institute of Politics in the US two years later (1926) when "vigorous differences of opinion on the question of minorities in Macedonia between Dr. Ante Tresioh Pavichich, Yugoslav Minister to the United States, and Dr. Stephen Panaretoff, former Bulgarian Minister to the United States, disturbed the hitherto peaceful meetings of the Institute of Politics".[2]

It is worth pointing out that the reports of the time do not refer to a single "Macedonian" people but an amalgam of peoples residing in geographical Macedonia. Navarre Atkinson, of the New York Times reports in 1927 that "the restless peoples who inhabit the rocky mountains and dry plains of Macedonia want another Balkan war. These Macedonians, who caused the two Balkan conflicts which preceded the World War, from which they emerged without any benefits, last week made another attempt to throw Yugoslavia and Bulgaria into war".[3]

Bulgaria supported the idea of establishing a Balkan Communist Federation thus expressing the orthodox Communist view. In 1924 Bulgarian leader Peter Tchaulev suggested that, "there will be no peace in the Balkans so long as the greater part of that area remains unwillingly under Yugoslav domination. He is one of the three heads of the Central Macedonian Revolutionary Committee, which declares it has virtually the entire population of Macedonia organized and ready to strike for its demands when the moment arrives". [4]

The aim of containing Bulgarophilia led to the adoption of extreme policies and mass suppression of those who identified as Bulgarians or those who formulated a Bulgarian national consciousness. Actually the same policy was adopted at a very late stage by FYROM after the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the mass persecution of those who identified themselves as Bulgarian-Macedonians.

In the 1940s Yugoslav-Bulgarian rivalry intensified further. As noted by M. S. Handler, "the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied today to the Bulgarian note of Oct. 1, abrogating the Bulgarian-Yugoslav treaty of alliance, by accusing the Bulgarian Government of having plotted to annex Yugoslav Macedonia.[5] This aim perplexed the political situation in the region since propaganda was targeted at both Yugoslav and Greek Macedonia [6], a fact that led Mark F. Ethridge, United States delegate on the United Nations Balkans Investigating Commission to call upon the Bulgarian liaison officer, George Koulishev to explain an article in a Communist newspaper of Sofia that said Bulgarians would welcome "the creation of a Macedonian State within the framework" of Yugoslavia" [7]. Still Bulgarophilia was the main threat to Belgrade´s expansionist plans. Yugoslav irredentist plans had to be redrawn and focus on the cohesion of its territory against Bulgarian national consciousness spreading at an alarming rate.

Those in Yugoslavia who identified as Bulgarians, had to be suppressed at any cost. At the same time Belgrade actively assisted those who would like to establish an autonomous state within Bulgarian Macedonia [8]. As noted, "Yugoslav Macedonian leaders followed yesterday's attack by Lieut. Gen. Svetozar Vukmanovitch on Bulgaria by taking today an even more aggressive stand on the question of the control of Macedonia"[9]. A year later, tensions rose on the occasion of a trial in Sofia of eleven people accused of "Yugoslav activities against Bulgaria" [10]. In the meantime the Soviet Union fully endorsed Bulgarian policy against Yugoslavia that slowly but steadily distanced itself form the Soviet block eventually becoming a non-aligned state.

In 1950 a report on "troop and supply movements in Bulgaria" gave the impression that "a new Communist offensive aimed at Yugoslav and Greek Macedonia may be in the wind" [11]. Sofia still accused Belgrade of a suppressive policy towards pro-Bulgarians and Bulgarian-Macedonians [12] while the Yugoslav government established the semi-independent Orthodox Church in Yugoslav Macedonia under the Serbian Patriarchate. The move was another means of distancing local Slav populations from Bulgarian influence [13] and the need to cement Yugoslavia against Soviet policy. As reported, "Yugoslavia today formally linked the mounting Bulgarian propaganda campaign over Yugoslav Macedonia, with the recent Soviet doctrines of "limited sovereignty" and of the Communist "right of intervention".[14]

Inside Yugoslavia the issue had alarmed the public opinion but also government officials. A report by the New York Times in 1966 exposed this uneasiness since "a leading Yugoslav weekly charged this week that "certain Bulgarian circles" had again stirred up the Macedonian issue, which has plagued the politics of the Balkans intermittently since the beginning of this century".[15]

Yugoslav views and tit for tat policies were formulated on the grounds of Bulgarian expansionism and Sofia being a stern pro-Soviet Union country. In September 1968 a leading figure of the Yugoslav Communist Party rejected what he termed as "greater-Bulgarian chauvinism" [16]. This explains why the official establishment of a "Macedonian" national identity in mid-1940s was a sine qua non against Bulgarian influence. The reports of the time (1966) made clear reference to "Yugoslav Macedonia, which acquired nationhood and its own language during the last 20 years" [17].

The struggle between the two countries intensified and was attributed to "an upsurge of Bulgarian nationalism that has reintroduced a long - submerged element into the dispute over Yugoslav Macedonia, which Bulgaria claims on ethnic grounds" [18]. It led to a Bulgarian-Yugoslav bilateral meeting (1969) that "aimed at settling deep-rooted differences over Macedonia and other vital issues". The meeting led to an impasse thus "leaving the two neighboring countries at a deadlock". [19]

The above are an abridged only description of the "Macedonian dispute" between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Greece constitutes the third parameter of the issue, yet what is less known today is the usurpation of Bulgarian history by nationalists in FYROM and the clash of the constructed "Macedonian identity" as opposed to pro-Bulgarian feelings and national consciousness in Yugoslav Macedonia. To this day Bulgarian-Macedonians have been heavily oppressed in FYROM, particularly members of the pro-Bulgarian Macedonian Patriotic Organization (see 2007 incidents), a policy aiming at purging national identity from those elements that link it to Bulgaria and points to the Bulgarian national consciousness of a number of its citizens.

================================================== ===========

[1] The New York Times, March 23, 1924
[2] "Clash on Balkans at Williamstown; Yugoslav and Bulgar Diplomats Differ Sharply Concerning Rule in Macedonia", The New York Times, August 15, 1926.
[3] "Macedonia puzzles Balkan statesmen; Failure of Latest Attempt to Embroil Sofia and Belgrade Puts States on Guard", The New York Times October 16, 1927.
[4] "Asserts Macedonia is ready to strike; Tchaulev, Bulgarian Leader, Tells of Aims of the "Balkan Federation", 1924, The New York Times, August 15, 1924.
[5] "Yugoslavs Accuse Bulgaria of plot, Belgrade Holds Sofia Seeks Part of Macedonia", The New York Times, October 14, 1949.
[6] "Propaganda Flood's Macedonia, Bulgarophiles and Pan-Slavs Active in Yugoslavia", The New York Times, July 30, 1940.
[7] "Bulgarian Red Aim Asked by Ethridge", The New York Times, April 1, 1947
[8] "Macedonians Seek Autonomy in Pirin; Yugoslav Communist Congress Hears Demand on Bulgaria for a 'Special Regime', The New York Times, July 25, 1948
[9] Ibid.
[10] "Deception by Tito Charged at Sofia; Spy Trial Hears His Aide Said Bulgar Reds Agreed He Should Direct Macedonia Operation", The New York Times, December 12, 1949.
[11] "Macedonia Thrust by Sofia is Feared; Reports of Troop Movements in Border Zone Are Sifted -- Threat to Yugoslavia Seen", The New York Times, July 6, 1950.
[12] "Ancient Specter Rises in Balkans; Macedonia Question Revived by Bulgarians, Who Charge Oppression by Yugoslavs", The New York Times, September 28, 1958
[13] "Yugoslavs Avoid Church Division; Macedonians Restore Old Diocese, but Recognize Serbian Patriarch", The New York Times, October 6, 1958
[14] "Belgrade Blames Soviet Policy For Sofia's Macedonia Claims, The New York Times, February 28, 1969
[15] "Macedonia issue stirs new clash; Yugoslavs Lay Irredentist Moves to Bulgarians", The New York Times, September 18, 1966
[16] Belgrade-Sofia Tension Rises", The New York Times, September 23, 1968.
[17] "Macedonia Stirred by Beauty Contest", The New York Times August 8, 1966.[18] "Bulgarian Nationalism Colors Macedonian Issue; Sofia Marks 1878 Treaty That Assigned Area to It Celebrations Appear Aimed at Yugoslav Control", The New York Times, July 11, 1968[19] "Macedonia talks end in deadlock; Bulgarian Minister Leaves Belgrade After Visit, The New York Times, December 14, 1969

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gracias Panama

Meanwhile, three days after FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) PM’s letter to Mr Barroso, a UN member-state is changing its stance against Skopje.

After meeting with Ms Bakoyannis, Panama Ambassador to Greece Antonio Fotis-Takis Otsoa assures Greece that Panama will abide to the relevant UN resolutions on this country’s name for bilateral and international use.

In its bilateral relations with Skopje, Panama has been using the neighbouring country’s constitutional name since 2002

Source :

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

FYROM’s Provocations and their American Godfathers

FYROM’s political leadership is in the process of transferring its dispute with Athens firstly to the USA and secondly to Canada, with the objective of changing the breadth and the depth of the negotiations, which are currently being held under the auspices of Mathew Nimitz, and of “isolating” Greece as a country which severely violates human rights.

The pseudo-irredentist propaganda of Skopje, by which it essentially disputes Greece’s sovereignty over the northern part of the country, will be promoted with a barrage of advertisements on the American media, and with the publication of law suits by so called “Aegean Macedonians” against the Greek state.

To achieve these aims, a quasi-legal amorphous mechanism involving US Government employees, diplomats, businessmen and analysts has been established, with input from State Department and Pentagon operatives.

The “activists”
The coordination of these activities, as well as the confrontation of the “Greek Lobby”, has been assigned to ORION Strategies, a company founded by Randy Scheunemann, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to presidential candidate, John McCain.

In the first phase, ORION Strategies has received a fee of 300,000 USD through an organization by the name of “United Macedonian Diaspora”, a Slav-Macedonian diaspora organization based in Washington, USA, which focuses on promoting FYROM’s propaganda internationally, the president of which is a certain Metodija A. Koloski.

Approximately 10 “activists” who have been instructed to “loudly” intervene during lectures and seminars where Greek diplomats will be presenting and to provoke questions concerning the so-called “Macedonian minority” are also members of the United Macedonian Diaspora organization. Whilst many of them appear “colorful” or eccentric, their aim is to create problems, and to present Greece as a undemocratic country, where all individual freedoms are suppressed.

This FYROM propaganda support group includes, notably, the following individuals who hold official and unofficial positions within the group:

Slavko Madzarov, a prominent businessman from New Jersey, and financier of ambitious American politicians. He is involved in the building industry and is notable supporter of New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell, who heads up the non-existent “Friends of Macedonia” group in Congress, which is comprised all-in-all of three congressmen! He has been elevated to the rank of FYROM’s honorary consul to the stat of New Jersey and carries himself as the defacto representative of Nikola Gruevski in the United States. His political power base is mostly at the local level, however.

Mike Zafirovski, president of the Nortel Company. He belongs to the entourage of President George Bush as a member of the Telecom Advisory Committee. He is a powerful supporter of the Skopje propaganda machine in the USA and has financially supported the pre-election campaigns of the Republican Party.

The Suspicions
Suspicions have been raised concerning the role of Daniel Fried, US Undersecretary of State, which he himself refutes categorically, and his connection with the FYROM propaganda machine, and in providing tacit support to FYROM’s anti-Greek pseudo-irredentist propaganda.

Well-founded concerns were expressed following his behavior and maneuvering further to the recent letter sent by Nikola Gruevski to Greece’s Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. During a conversation with a Greek diplomat Fried seemed, quite undiplomatically, to be overcome with anger. Moreover, he is said to have stated that he will communicate with Athens to head off the angry response by the Greek Prime Minister, so that the negotiation process is not affected by the stupidity [of Gruevski].

During the course of a discussion he had with the Pan Macedonian Association of America, he again expressed disappointment [concerning the latest actions of Gruevski]. However, he steadfastly refused and did not even permit the release of a statement from the State Department publicizing his exact response to this provocation, which in the end appeared to be non-existent…. His maneuvering vindicated all those who continue to believe that Fried fosters the pseudo-irredentist propaganda of Skopje with his statements concerning a “Macedonian ethnicity” and “Macedonian language”.

The Information held by Athens
The Greek government has evidence that Paul Feiffer, a State Department Operative, is an informant and consultant to the Skopje leadership and to FYROM’s ambassador in Washington. Athens has already diplomatically complained to Washington, presenting credible evidence, about the activities of Mr. Feiffer, without any apparent result.

The Pentagon Clique and the “Analysts”
Laurence Butler, Assistant Undersecretary of State, and former ambassador to FYROM is another friend and consultant of Mr. Gruevski. His traces can be found on many of the provocations and actions of the FYROM leadership against Greece.

Athens suspects that the idea of this year’s recent “get-together” in the Florina region is the brainchild of American operatives, especially since Greek diplomats were informed of it the first time from Mr. Butler’s the inner circle.

It is notable that there is strong support of Skopje from the Pentagon establishment, citing FYROM’s military contribution in Iraq, which amounts to no more than 100 soldiers!

FYROM’s US – based propaganda machine’s relationship with Randy Scheunemann’s ORION strategies commenced after an introduction by a senior employee of the US Defense Department.

The Greek Government believes that one of the agents of Skopje’s irredentist campaign is the analyst Edward Joseph – who collaborates with the Brookings Institution. In fact, Greek diplomats in the USA and in Europe have clashed with him many times.

He is primarily known through the publication of one of his reports for the curious “International Crisis Group”, which undermined the negotiations of the government of Kostas Simitis with Branko Crvenkovski concerning the name issue.

Recently, he published a report in “Spiegel” entitled “How the Greek dispute concerning “Macedonia’s” name will be resolved”. His basic idea and contribution centered around the justification of Skopje’s pseudo-irredentism. Moreover, he made a very negative impression through his assertion that the Greek objections relating to FYROM’s name issue were due to the existence of a “Macedonian minority” in Greece.“Greece”, predicted the analyst, as if he were himself prescribing the “penalty”,“will bear a heavy political price……..”

FYROM’s American Guidance
Randy Scheunemann (Advisor to presidential candidate John McCain)
Randy Scheunemann is the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to John McCain and coordinator of the opposition to the “Greek lobby” and of the promotion of Skopje’s propaganda, through ORION Strategies which he himself founded. His relationship with the Republican Party’s presidential candidate is an especially close one and they frequently travel together. As a down payment, his company received 300,000 USD from the organization “United Macedonian Diaspora” whose president is a certain Metodija A. Koloski. The aim of ORION Strategies is to establish a propaganda machine incorporating US government officials, operatives, diplomats and analysts.

Mike Zafirovski (George W. Bush Advisor)
Mike Zafirovski is the President of the Nortel Company. He belongs to George Bush’s staff, as a member of the Telecom Advisory Committee.Lawrence Butler (Assistant Undersecretary of State)Lawrence Butler is Assistant Undersecretary of State, and former ambassador to FYROM. His traces are to be found on many of the provocations of the FYROM leadership against Greece.

Edward P. Joseph (Analyst)
Edward P. Joseph is an Analyst and collaborates with the Brookings Institution. He is primarily known through the publication of one of his reports for the curious “International Crisis Group”, which undermined the negotiations of the government of Kostas Simitis with Branko Crvenkovski concerning the name issue. His primary contribution centered around the justification of FYROM’s pseudo-irredentism.

Article by Mihalis Ignatiou, Ethnos Newspaper, 19th July 2008
Original title of the article is .......The godfathers of the provocations.
Translated into English by Captain Agras, 22nd July 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Documents that concern the Greek Abducted Children Issue



261 - Letter to the Vice President on the Need for Repatriating Displaced Greek Children.September 29th, 1950

Dear Mr. Vice President:

I know that all Americans share the Senate's humanitarian concern for the thousands of Greek children removed from Greece during the guerrilla warfare and now being held in eastern Europe. Freedom-loving people throughout the world are repelled by the inhumanity embodied in the unjustified retention of these innocent children far from their parents and their native land.
The Executive Branch has exerted and will continue to exert every feasible effort to encourage the repatriation of these children. I am certain that the United Nations has been encouraged in its efforts to effect the children's return by the Senate's deep and sympathetic concern as expressed in S. Res. 212 on September 13, 1950.Very sincerely yours,

[Honorable Albert W. Barkley, Vice President of the United States, Washington, D.C.]
Note: S. Res. 212 is printed in the Congressional Record (vol. 96, p. 14667).


June 28 1950
Lords Sitting : ABDUCTED GREEK CHILDREN§ 2.40 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask whether His Majesty's Government have made representations, either directly or through the United Nations, to urge the return of the Greek children abducted from their homes by the Governments of certain countries neighbouring on Greece and whether they will undertake to vote against the admission of any of those countries to the United Nations until full reparation, including the return of the children, has been made for this hideous crime.]

My Lords, at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 and 1949 the United Kingdom representative supported resolutions urging the States concerned to assist the International Red Cross in the repatriation of these children, and the International Red Cross have been and are continuing their most praiseworthy efforts to put right this tragic situation. With regard to the second part 1130 of the Question, it is the view of His Majesty's Government that the veto should not me used in the Security Council in connection with the admission of new members. It is most unlikely, however, that States which are violating resolutions of the United Nations would command the necessary majority to secure their admission.

My Lords, I am obliged to my noble and learned friend for his reply, but I should be glad if he could tell the House more particularly what measure of success has been achieved by the Red Cross in returning these unhappy children to their homes. I certainly hope that the Government will consider most carefully whether they will do anything to facilitate the entry into the United Nations of countries which have openly and arrogantly set at nought all the representations that have been made by the United Nations Assembly.

My Lords, I wish I could give the noble Viscount some news which was more comforting to him and to me. I cannot. The exact number of Greek children removed from Greece by the Greek guerillas during the recent rebellion is not, of course, known, but it is generally supposed that the total is somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000. Applications for the repatriation of 9,500 Greek children have been forwarded by the Greek Red Cross to the International Red Cross, but so far not one child has been returned to Greece. About twenty Greek children have recently left Yugoslavia to join their parents who are now in Australia, and His Majesty's Government earnestly hope that the resumption of full diplomatic relations between Greece and Yugoslavia will lead to a settlement of all problems between the two countries, including particularly this problem.

My Lords, that practically amounts to this: that the efforts of the Red Cross have been totally unsuccessful. They have not succeeded in getting one single child back to its home. In those circumstances, I venture to press upon the Government the necessity of taking this matter very seriously and really trying to wipe off the face of Europe the shocking crimes that are being committed in this way.

§ THE LORD CHANCELLORMy Lords, I can assure the noble Viscount that there is no need to press His Majesty's Government to take this matter seriously. This is a matter which must shock the mind and conscience of any decent citizen.

Section citation: HL Deb 28 June 1950 vol 167 cc1129-31.