The Greek Business Societyʼs concern over the deteriorating relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Thessaloniki, 13 April 2009
“The Greek Business Societyʼs concern over the deteriorating relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
We are the representatives of the vast majority of businesses in Northern Greece, which have heavily invested in most South East European countries and especially in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.). Our entrepreneurial initiatives, no doubt, have significantly strengthened the economy, social cohesion and internal stability of our northern neighbor.
Today, we wish to share with you our deep concern over the rapid deterioration of relations between Greece and F.Y.R.O.M., a concern that transcends the purely political or diplomatic aspect of the negotiations presently going on between the two sides, under the aegis of the UN, that aim to achieve a mutually acceptable solution on the “name issue”. This deterioration is now seriously affecting the everyday relations between common citizens, especially the younger generations, in the most negative way possible, which will undoubtedly shift the focus away from the current international priority of dealing with the financial crisis, terrorism, energy cooperation, illegal immigration and social unrest, in a very sensitive part of Europe.
Our concerns mainly refer to F.Y.R.O.M.ʼs escalating, offensive propaganda, as reflected throughout the stateʼs official educational system, from Elementary to University level, by means of a provocative effort to distort long-established historical facts. This results in the encouragement, directly or indirectly, of hostile and irredentist feelings against neighboring Greece and its people.
We consider it superfluous to tire you with arguments proving that ancient Macedonians were as Greek as the Spartans or the Athenians, or that they inhabited the region that is the Greek province of Macedonia today, at least a thousand years before any Slavic tribe set foot there; suffice it to mention that an enormous amount of historic and academic evidence, from the time of Aristotle until today, proves beyond any shred of doubt the Hellenic identity of ancient Macedonians.
Unfortunately, the present political leadership in Skopje chooses to neglect both solid facts and common sense: we are constantly witnessing one extremity after another, in a consistent effort to convince F.Y.R.O.M. citizens, as well as the international community, that the one and only “Macedonian nation” and people was – and is – the Slavic population of F.Y.R.O.M.; that Aristotle, Philip and Alexander the Great are part of their ethnic and cultural identity. Even “God” was employed as their advocate, in a preposterous video recently shown on national TV in F.Y.R.O.M., but also on CNN and, presumably, on other TV programs around the world. As a local analyst in F.Y.R.O.M. commented: “This footage would otherwise be hilarious, if it was not a tragic reminder of the nationalist mud that we are engulfed in. There must be a big red line drawn, separating a good Christian who loves his country and someone who is poisoning people with Nazi ideology”. (the full article can be found at http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/blogs/16190/).
Greek companies operating in F.Y.R.O.M., most of them members of our associations and active mainly in the sectors of energy, banking, manufacturing and retailing, are finding it ever more difficult to assess their present and future in the country, due to the increasingly hostile environment they are daily obliged to operate in. It is worth mentioning that Greek companies provide employment to more than 20.000 citizens in F.Y.R.O.M., and all this in the midst of a worldwide financial crisis that deeply concerns each and every one of us.
Even if we try to ignore the blatant insult to common sense – let alone to historic truth – and suppress our personal annoyance caused by the provocative insistence of F.Y.R.O.M.ʼs Prime Minister to name squares, streets and airports after well known ancient personalities of obvious Hellenic identity, or erect their statues in every square of the country, there is one very ominous fact that neither we nor the international community can afford to neglect : the younger generation in F.Y.R.O.M. is “educated” to firmly believe that Greeks and Greece are a heartless, overpowering neighbor who currently occupies the biggest and richest part of their country, having ethnically cleansed their brothers from that region. Growing hostility and animosity against Greeks is the single most dangerous result of this irredentist propaganda, which traces back to the first years of the Cold War and keeps its totalitarian
character of communist indoctrination ever since. The current F.Y.R.O.M. leadership
is wasting present development opportunities in the sensitive Balkan region and jeopardizing the future, instead, insisting on temporary electoral and party politics.
We firmly believe that it is time for the international community to react decisively to the above policies, as they constitute a time-bomb in the foundations of security, stability and economic development in the greater region of South East Europe, ready to explode anytime. Recent vandal attacks against Greek tourist buses in Ohrid, F.Y.R.O.M., serve as a minor, yet very disturbing, reminder of what the future could have in store. The Greek business community, being the largest investor in F.Y.R.O.M. (aprox. 300 Companies, having invested over 1 billion Euros), both in terms of capital investment and economic assistance, along with the international community, can not risk to ignore the dire consequences of further deterioration.
Considering the above, we urge you to exert all possible influence so that the latest nationalistic exaggerations on the part of F.Y.R.O.M.ʼs leadership are terminated, initiating instead a friendlier stance towards neighboring Greece, adopting a more pragmatic approach regarding the “name issue” and, more importantly, refraining from policies and actions that would further poison the hearts and minds of F.Y.R.O.M.ʼs citizens – especially its younger generation – against Greece. It is only in such a climate that our substantial investment contribution to this country can achieve its full positive impact, thus enhancing better understanding, cooperation and good neighborly relations among people of both countries, while at the same time promoting the much-needed political, social and economic stability in F.Y.R.O.M. and the Balkan region in general.
Be convinced that your personal influence towards that direction is of vital importance.
Συντάκτης: Ο21 Μ-Θ
Ημερομηνία καταχώρησης: 16η Ιουνίου 2009
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