Thu, 12 Jan 1995 12:29:17 CST
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
From: “C. Bock-Goodner” <LPCL375@utxvms.cc.utexas.edu>
Subject: Greece: The Skopje Question
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Because the disinformation and systematic disorientation of the citizenry concerning the “Skopje Question” has acquired such Kafkaesque dimensions, in this short tract I will attempt not to elaborate, but only to list a small number of elements that we all need to recognize in order to be able to form a logical and useful national position regarding this bitter problem, that is becoming more unresolvable with each passing day, worsening the status of our land with friends and foes.
1) After the Balkan Wars and World War One the geographic expanse of Macedonia was divided into three parts: Greece took 53%, Serbia 33% and Bulgaria as one of the vanquished, received the smallest part.
2) The two regions that were not united with Greece, already by 1919 were called Yugoslavian (Vardar Macedonia) and Bulgarian Macedonia (Pirin Macedonia) by foreign and Greek politicians, diplomats, historians, geographers and journalists (publicists).
3) In 1924 after the catastrophic events in Asia Minor and the mass exchange of population, our portion became “Greek” not only due to the division, but ethnographically as well. It means, after the year 1924 there no longer existed a serious Macedonian question, as there is in Thrace.
4) After the Second World War, with Greek acquiescence, the territory that had been united with Serbia remained under the name Macedonia as one of the “Republics” of socialist Yugoslavia. From then till now the residents of this region, the great majority of them, grew up with the idea that they are Macedonians.
5) The question of the unacceptability for Skopje to not only bear the name Republic of Macedonia but any combination (mixed) name (such as Vardar Macedonia) began with Mr. A. Samaras, who succeeded in setting down the basic rules of the game (meaning the absolute unconditionality of the term) rules that the two large parties decided to accept.
6) The request by Greece that Skopje should not be recognized under the name “Republic of Macedonia” (that is logical) but also by any combined name (that is not logical) is contrary to the right of self-identity of the individual, groups and peoples, such as, for example, laid down in the rules formulated by the UN.
7) Even if we find friends (partners) who would be disposed to “convince” Gligorov to accept the maximalist position (meaning to forbid use of the term Macedonia in “its various usages”), such a decision as the preceding would not be able to pass the Skopje parliament. The parliament would vote by an enormous margin against any name that does not contain the word Macedonia.
8) When at meetings and in other places we assert that “Macedonia is Greek” or still worse that is “only Greek,” every reasonable person can only give one of two possible meanings to the above slogan: either that we are ignoring that which occurred in 1919 or that we do not accept that division, from which it follows that there exist plans for reuniting [with our own] the two Macedonian regions that at this time are located outside of Greek borders. This then means, when our political and church leaders not only tolerate but promote with a mania this slogan, it is not all that strange that foreigners consider us either unreasonable or that we have imperialistic designs on the other two parts.
The above-mentioned eight informational notes cannot be dismissed by arguing that Skopje acts irrationally, that their chauvinism and irridentism acquire paranoid and laughable dimensions, and the like. And even if Skopje, in fact, behaves irrationally, that cannot justify our irrational conduct and support for positions which are unbefitting a nation with our cultural tradition, a nation which is a member of the EU and has two centuries of parliamentary democratic tradition.
Above all there exists no justification for the concealment from the Greek people of basic information such as the above-mentioned. The systematic disinformation not only reflects a lack of respect for the reasoning power of the Greek people, but is based upon an anti-democratic, backward, autocratic mentality. And above all does nothing to advance the present situation.
More concretely we have only two strategies before us:
Strategy A: Insistence on the absolute monopolization of the name Macedonia. The result of this strategy can only be the continued diplomatic isolation of our land, recognition of Skopje by everyone under the name “Republic of Macedonia,” the international promotion of Gligorov and the sympathy of all governments for Skopje as a “victim” of Greek rigidity, “embracing” of Skopje by Bulgaria and Turkey, the dramatic rise of Turkish influence in the Balkans and Western Europe, and in the end, the loss of a singular chance for our nation to become a forge for unity between the European Union and the Balkans.
Strategy B: The acceptance of a “combined” name. The clear acceptance on the part of Greece to consider every name which will contain the term Macedonia can be a theme on the agenda of talks. It will immediately open the path for a decision of the type “Piniero” [an EU head who proposed a compromise]. This means that Greece on its part would accept the combined name (for example, Vardar Macedonia) and would propose economic cooperation with the counter-balance of the three known conditions (change of constitution, change of symbols, breaking off of irridentist propaganda). Likewise Greece will be able to seek and will succeed easily in receiving specific guarantees for her present borders.
If the above is correct, a person asks himself, how is it possible the government and the largest part of the opposition insist on a self-destructive politics? Are our politicians crazy? No, it is just that they place their party interests above the interests of the nation. The populist playing upon patriotism appears triumphant once again. The Skopje question represents the most visible sign of the political and social crisis through which our nation is passing at this time.