NEW YORK – The World Pan-Macedonian Associations posted a letter on the International Hellenic Association website (professors-phds.com) to U.S. President Donald Trump concerning the recent name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The letter includes background history on the naming controversy and an appeal to President Trump “to do something to stop the upheaval that surely is coming in the area.”
The full text of the letter follows:
July 7, 2018
To: Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America
Dear Mr. President,
With this letter, we wish to make clear the reasons that Greeks cannot accept the word “Macedonia” (or any name that includes “Macedonia” in it) as the permanent name of its northern neighbor, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). This name (FYROM) was agreed upon to be used only temporarily. The term “Macedonia” has to be removed before the country’s entry to any international organization.
Like any other nation, Greeks feel only a sense of pride when other countries use historical or other Greek names and words, as they introduce new scientific terms, or name companies, places, or cities. However, FYROM demands to be given the same name as its neighboring region which belongs to Greece. The underlying reasons for this demand, and why Greeks are fiercely opposed to it are explained below.
On January 11, 1934, the Comintern (Communist International) recognized the existence of a non-existing “Macedonian nation”, which included all the—multiethnic—inhabitants of the territory that was once ancient Macedonia, the largest part of which was/is in Greece, and smaller parts in Bulgaria and south Yugoslavia. The purpose was to bring to the newly founded “Macedonian nation” a sense of homogeneity and pride, and unite its inhabitants in a strife to “reclaim” the northern administrative region of Greece which is called Macedonia, and thus get access to the sea. Subsequently (in 1944), the leader—and later president—of Communist Yugoslavia, Josip Broz (commonly known as Tito) renamed Vardarska Banovina (Province of the river Vardar), a region of south Yugoslavia, to “Socialist Republic of Macedonia”. In addition, he codified the language spoken in parts of south Yugoslavia, a Slavic dialect similar to Bulgarian dialects, and called it “Macedonian language”. It is important to note that the US administration immediately reacted at that time, with Secretary of State Edward Stettinius stating that any talk about “Macedonian nation”, “Macedonian Fatherland”, or “Macedonian national consciousness” is an “unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic or political reality” and it can only be seen as “a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece” (http://www.mfa.gr/images/docs/fyrom/dilosi_stettinius_dec_1944.pdf). Indeed, at that time, a narrative began developing, according to which the Slavic “Macedonians” are direct descendants of Alexander the Great and the Ancient Macedonians, and that the Greeks occupy a large part of their land (the large part of Northern Greece which was Macedonia since the ancient times and is still called Macedonia today). This ideology has gained strong momentum since 1991 (when the region of South Yugoslavia known today as FYROM broke away from Yugoslavia).
There have been many attempts to find a solution under the aegis of the UN over the years. Greeks throughout the world do not harbor any enmity or hostility toward the citizens of FYROM, and yearn for a peaceful and productive coexistence between the two peoples. It is important to note in this regard that Greece has decidedly contributed to building FYROM’s economy and infrastructure. Greece has an earnest desire for mutual respect and the realization of a lasting political solution with its northern neighbor.
Right now, however, a tragedy is going on in Greece and an uncertain future rises not only for Greece but also for the entire Balkan region. The governments of many European states, especially Germany, have persuaded the current weak Greek government that the “Prespes Accord” (signed by Athens and Skopje on June 17, 2018 at Psarades in the Prespes lake region of Greece’s northern province, Macedonia) is good for Greece. In addition to the country’s name “North Macedonia”, the accord recognizes – or rather gifts – the multiethnic population of the FYROM with a “Macedonian nationality” and “Macedonian language”, albeit with a referral descriptor that is supposed to clarify that the FYROM citizens are not related to ancient Macedonians, and that the “Macedonian” language belongs to the Slavic family languages. These are plain absurdities, as though when an inhabitant of Skopje answers to a Spaniard for instance that the language he speaks is “Macedonian” he will add: “but it belongs to the Slavic family of languages.”
During the signing of this accord —which, in accordance with the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic, the Greek government has no mandate from the Greek people to sign—, tens of thousands of Greek citizens in the nearby village of Pisoderi were rallying against it. The Greek Police, obviously following orders by the government, chased the peaceful demonstrators using tear gas and stun grenades and even beating up as well as throwing individuals down a steep ravine (many of these protesters had to be hospitalized).
This accord has not yet been completely finalized as it has to pass through a referendum in the FYROM as well as through the Greek and FYROM Parliaments. While the Greek government is ready to commit this act, the Greek people vehemently and unequivocally oppose it. Consequently, the Greek people are exercising their right to defend their Constitution and are rallying loudly, yet peacefully up to now, protesting in most cities across Greece, demanding a referendum as well.
The SWAT teams deployed by the government, tear gas and attack all demonstrators (including the elderly, women and children) on a daily basis. However, and to the government’s dismay, these rallies are multiplying by the day, but unfortunately all major Greek media, including the state-owned and run ERT channel, do not cover them. Moreover, when a news item is reported, the demonstrators are presented as “far-right nationalists and extremists” and “neo-Nazis” – descriptions that could not be further from the truth. Therefore, the international community does not know what is REALLY going on in Greece in this summer of discontent.
It is well known that Greeks have gone through an economic crisis enduring its consequences stoically, but they will defend to the end the name of Macedonia which is being usurped by a non-Greek state. It is not the purpose of this letter to explain that the history of Ancient Macedonia is a very important part of Greek history; we have done that previously (please see http://macedonia-evidence.org/). We fear that because of the way the Greek government responds, the peaceful rallies will turn violent, bringing instability to Greece and the entire region.
It is difficult not to notice the closer ties that FYROM has been developing with Turkey, who provokes Greece on a daily basis by invading Greek waters and airspace, and disputes Greece’s sea borders; apparently, the old saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has been applied in this case, but such developments cannot contribute to offering Greece “peace of mind”. It is also interesting to note that Soros’ Open Societies Foundation https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/ vehemently supports the Prespes accord.
Dr. Frank L. Holt, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Houston, concludes in his prologue of the book “Macedonia Evidence”:
“The future surely fascinates us, but it has no force. It merely waits while the past drives the present. On the train-tracks of time, the engine has always been in the back, pushing rather than pulling. Thus, the past cannot be unhooked and unheeded as so much dead weight. Nor can it be left in the hands of the wrong engineers: Whoever controls the past determines the future, and that ultimately depends upon who in the present is shaping the past. Parliaments? Pundits? Preachers? Poets? Presidents? Who controls the present must choose carefully whom to trust with our past, else a false and monstrous future may result.”
Mr. President, please take heed of these lines and do something to stop the upheaval that surely is coming in the area. Let the truth prevail, side with the Greek people.
World Pan-Macedonian Associations*
Pan-Macedonian Association USA
President: Demitris Filippidis
Pan-Macedonian Federation of Australia
Coordinator: Peter Jasonides
Pan-Macedonian Association of Canada
President: Dr. Christos Karatzios
Pan-Macedonian Association of New South Wells, Australia
President: Nikolaos Fassoulas
Pan-Macedonian Association of South Australia
President: Evangelos Tsiaparis
Pan-Macedonian Association of Western Australia
President: Paul Afkos OAM
Pan-Macedonian Association Queensland, Australia
President: Dimitrios Papagiannis
Pan-Macedonian Association of Africa
President: Amyntas Papathanasiou
Pan-Macedonian Federation of Canada
President: George Papadakis
Pan-Hellenic Federation of Cultural Associations of the Macedonians (Greece)
President: George Tatsios
Co-signed by the Pan-Macedonian Federation of Greece
President: Dr. John Athanasiadis
* The World Pan-Macedonian Associations is the international representative umbrella of the individual Pan-Macedonian federations of the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Africa, and Greece.