Saturday, September 25, 2010

FYROM's Foreign Policy Objectives and the Name issue.

The FYROM name issue is not simply a dispute over historical facts and symbols. It is a problem with regional and international dimensions, given that FYROM is exercising a policy of irredentism and territorial claims fuelled by the falsification of history and the usurpation of Greeces historical and national heritage. It is also a problem   of a «cultural genocide».

The first steps of the former Yugoslav "Socialist Republic of Macedonia" towards independent statehood bear the marks of nationalistic visions mixed with territorial expansionism.

It is not a coincidence that, as a result of the first democratic elections (December 1990), the party which won first place in popular votes and parliamentary seats was the "Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation" (VMRO). Its platform declared specifically its intention to work for the unification of all the Macedonian lands in one state: the "Republic of Macedonia".

Similarly, VMRO's electoral poster depicted a map of a united Macedonia which included the whole of Greek Macedonia, as well as the Pirin district in Bulgaria.

In November 1993, under the influence of nationalists, the Gligorov government prepared and passed through Parliament the Constitution of the "Republic of Macedonia". In its preamble, the Constution stated that the new republic rests upon "the statehood–legal traditions" of the "Republic of Krushevo" (1903) and of ASNOM (1944). Both events are considered in Stopje as the first steps toward the establishment of an independent and united Macedonian state. It is worth quoting certain paragraphs from the ASNOM documents of August 21, 1944:

"Macedonians under Bulgaria and Greece,
...The unification of the entire Macedonian people depends on your participation in the gigantic anti-fascist front. Only by fighting the vile fascist occupier will you gain your right to self-determination and unification of the entire Macedonian people within the framework of Tito's Yugoslavia, which has become a free community of emancipated and equal people. May the struggle of the Macedonian Piedmont incite you to even bolder combat against the fascist oppressors!"

And in a Proclamation to the people of Macedonia issued on August 4, 1944, it was stated:

"...In the course of three years of combat you have achieved your unity, developed your army,: and laid the basis for the federal Macedonian state. With the participation of the entire Macedonian nation in the struggle against the fascist occupiers of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Greece you will achieve unification of all parts of Macedonia, divided in 1915 and 1918 by Balkan imperialists" .
To popularise these visions, official or semi-official agencies and private enterprises in FYROM put in circulation all kinds of maps, calendars, car stickers, posters depicting the "homeland" of Skopje's "Macedonians" ;-not within the borders of FYROM but all the way to the Aegean coast, the city of Thessaloniki and Mt. Olympus! This is happening not in 1903 or 1944, but in 1992, 1993, 1994.

More ominous for the future was the publication of identical maps and texts of a similar mentality in the new school textbooks of history, published by President Gligorov's Ministry of Education in 1992-1993.

Thus, in no uncertain terms, it becomes clear that the new state was launched, from the very beginning, on a course of territorial expansionism.

At a closer look, one can observe certain striking similarities of the aims of present-day FYROM nationalists and those of the Bulgarian revolutionaries at the turn of the 19th century in Ottoman-held Macedonia; or those of the Bulgarian fascists during the Second World War; or, finally, of the Yugoslav communists during the first post-World War II years.

In all cases, the vision of terroristsguerillas-political activists was–and continues to be–identical: to unite all Macedonian lands into a unified entity, despite the different ethnological composition of these lands. Where these fighters or activists differed was their choice of the beneficiary. In the late l9th century and all the way to the Second World War, the aspiring beneficiary was nationalist or fascist Bulgaria. Later, it was Tito's communist Yugoslavia. Now, it is Gligorov's–or his successor's–"democratic" FYROM.

Under the circumstances, one could hardly blame the Greeks, particularly those of the northern Greek provinces, if they view suspiciously the nationalistic claims of a new-born state in their backyard. After all, in the span of this century, they have experienced two foreign occupations and one Civil War, supported by neighbouring countries coveting Greek Macedonia and Thrace.

Let us take a glimpse at some not too distant historical events.

During the First World War, Bulgaria attempted to annex the Macedonian regions of her neighbours, Greece and Serbia, by espousing the cause of the Central Powers and Turkey. Indeed, with the support of Kaizer's Germany it managed to occupy Greek Eastern Macedonia where ethnic cleansing-type tactics were applied against the Greek population. The defeat of Germany and Austria-Hungary terminated Bulgarian occupation. Having failed to annex the coveted territory,- Bulgaria subsequently sought to promote the idea of an autonomous Macedonian state.

Once again, during the second World War, Bulgaria, allied to nazi Germany and fascist Italy, was given in exchange the right to occupy large parts of Greek Macedonia and Thrace all the way to the Aegean coast. Bulgarian occupation authorities, benefiting by World War I experiences, reverted to their familiar policy of ethnic cleansing. The collapse of the Axis terminated the second Bulgarian occupation of Greek Macedonia (1941–1944).

It is interesting to note that this was not only the policy of the Bulgarian ruling elites of the time, but also that of the Bulgarian Communist Party. It is a fact that during the interwar period, the Soviet Union under Stalin endorsed a proposal by Bulgarian Communists for a united and independent Macedonian state in the framework of a Balkan Communist Federation.

In 1944, it was Tito's turn, who set up the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. The federal form of the state was meant to solve the problem of quarrelling nationalities and ethnic minorities within Yugoslavia. He set up the "People's Republic of Macedonia" (formerly known as the "Province of the Vardar"), and sought to annex to it the Macedonian provinces of neighbouring Greece and Bulgaria.

This brief historical expose is didactic in many respects. It brings out the fact that neighbours of Greece, irrespective of international alignments or internal political regimes, have pursued, throughout the 20th century, schemes for expansion towards Greek Macedonia and Thrace. Furthermore, it supports the thesis that no single Balkan neighbour dared to challenge Greek sovereignty over the two Greek northern provinces, unless it was in alliance with one or more external great Powers.

The succession of these great Powers is worth recording.

Certainly, Greece and the Greek people do not feel threatened today by a weak FYROM. Nevertheless, the logical assumption that comes to the minds not only of the Greeks but all those who know the history of the Balkans is a simple one: if FYROM is allowed to develop on a nationalist, expansionist and even revanchist course, then it is bound to seek its own patron who will hand over to it the "promised lands".

The case of the Gruevski regime is unique. Is a expression of political hegemony of mr. Gruevski and his intention is to change the history, the society and the aesthetics of the country , while he spoke of a ''De-Slavisation plan'' .

This is the context of the irredentist efforts that have been mounted by FYROMs political leadership to nurture in the countrys citizens via school books and propaganda the notion that they are the descendents of the ancient Macedonians, thus cultivating the concept of a United Macedonia, a portion of which is FYROM, with other parts under Greek, Bulgarian and Albanian occupation. It is clear that the irredentist doctrine of a United Macedonia opens the way to claims on occupied territories.

For Greece, the definitive settlement of the matter and the finding of a mutually acceptable solution remain the sole objective. Greeces shift from its initial negotiating position accepting the idea of a compound name that includes the term Macedonia on the condition that there is also a geographical qualifier is proof of the constructive spirit and good faith in which Greece has approached the negotiations under the UN to date.

FYROM has opted for propaganda over dialogue, mounting a well-prepared, calculated smear campaign against Greece, while also trying to insinuate various non-issues into the negotiations, attempting to turn the talks into a platform for grievances, demands and claims against Greece. FYROM has even tried to reopen World War II issues that European countries have put behind them for good; issues that have no place in our common journey towards ever closer union.

The problem is simple. The geographical area of Macedonia is since the Middle Ages a multiethnic region. It is not the homeland of one single nation. He tort of Skopje is that while as a state and an ethnicity is a Part, it portrays itself as if it is the Whole. They call their country ‘Macedonia’, their ethnicity and language ‘macedonian’, because through these names they are trying to register mortgages in all of Macedonia. The rhetoric for the great macedonian dismembered homeland is serving this view.

In the name of Peace and stability in the Balkans -not only in our times but for future generations- it is important that the new state should be helped to divest itself of the legacies of the past, i.e. of the nationalist Bulgarian and communist Yugoslav mentality. T
  • the contested articles of its Constitution should be deleted or amended in order to free political leaders of binding constitutional obligations -or the temptation- to pursue expansionist designs;
  • the school textbooks of history should be rewritten to put an end to the indoctrination of young children with grandiose, chimerical visions of a greater Macedonia;
  • internationally binding treaties should guarantee that the new state would sincerely accept the sovereignty of neighbouring states over their respective Macedonian provinces;
  • and, above all, the name "Republic of Macedonia", a perpetrator of territorial expansionism, should be abandoned with no delay.
If such initiatives are taken and such guarantees are given, Greece would be the first to extend its hand in support of the new neighbouring state to its north. Prohibition of the abuse of rights is a general principle of law found time and again in international legal practice; and it comes higher up in the hierarchy than the rules governing the exercise, by the subjects of international law, of their individualized rights. Macedonian identity is part of the identity of every single Greek citizen and we will not negotiate on that  as Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas remarked.

1 comment:

  1. The essence of the "name dispute" is that Greece has so weakened itself that it cannot project its foreign policy even against a tribal, make-believe nation with zero international weight.

    It is a critical example that unless monumental changes are made in Greek society, Greece will find itself occupying the same geopolitical irrelevance as the "Macedonians" to the north. The consequence for Greece would be existential.


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