ATHENS – A deal that anti-nationalist Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras made to give away the name of Macedonia to the newly-named North Macedonia opened the door for more minority claims by recognizing a Macedonian language.
That was a “grave mistake” Greece made, said well-known linguist and former education minister Georgios Babiniotis, telling SKAI radio the language spoken in North Macedonia is a “serbianized” Bulgarian dialect introduced by the Josip Tito regime which uses a variation of the Cyrillic alphabet and which has no affiliation to the Greek language.
He said that the language in question should more appropriately be referred to as Bulgarian-Serbian or Slavic-Macedonian. The language acceptance by Greece as part of the deal to rename The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and end a near-28-year-long feud drew special ire from Greeks, two-thirds of whom opposed the agreement.
The deal says that the Macedonian language belongs to the group of South Slavic languages, infuriating Greek nationalists and critics.
Babiniotis said while the deal stipulates there is no Macedonian minority in Greece, the recognition of a Macedonian language could be used by scientific circles wishing to push minority claims.