PO Box 257C
Melbourne VIC 3001
To the editor-in-chief,
RE: Article Once around the bloc by Steve McKenna (publication date 16/08/09)
It has recently been brought to my attention that in the aforementioned article published by The Age, Steve McKenna incorrectly and perhaps inadvertently referred to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the “Republic of Macedonia” (or just Macedonia).
This citation is not in compliance with the position of the Australian Governement and the United Nations. Both refer to that country as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/fyrom/index.html.
Please see UN Resolution 225 (1993) as confirmation of this:
While many Australians remain oblivious to the naming dispute, it is of great significance to Macedonians who are Australian citizens. I myself am a Macedonian of Greek descent, with my origins in the Greek province of Macedonia. Referring to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia simply as “Republic of Macedonia” (or just “Macedonia”) encourages monopolisation of the name Macedonia and is a gross violation of my own rights as a Macedonian. It also encourages territorial claims against Greece (this is the main reason for the UN Resolution) and incites feelings of racial tension, a disposition which has no place in contemporary Australia.
Furthermore, this writer goes on to descry a train of historical fallacies. He alleges that Alexander the Great was a national hero of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, that the people residing in this newly established Balkan nation are the exclusive inheritors of the Macedonian culture of antiquity, and that the capital of both ancient and modern state was Skopje.
At this time, I will not engage you with a long dissertation on historical truth. Any historian or scholar involved in serious critical inquiry will be able to honestly disclose that the history of Macedonia is an integral part of Greek history and that its actors were the Macedonian Greeks, from before Alexander the Great to the Greeks of the Byzantine Empire and the contemporary ones.
Of course the southern part of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was a part of ancient Macedonia and superficially slavicised (mainly linguistically) inhabitants of Greek descent who still preserve some of their ancient customs can be found there, but the fact remains that when one talks of ancient Macedonia, you can be sure they’re alluding to Greece’s northernmost province, Greek Macedonia.
The borders of historical Macedon never encompassed Skopje or any surrounding district. Its successive capitals were Vergina (Aegeai) and Pella, respectively.
In hindsight, it’s somewhat disconcerting that the editors of an esteemed and revered newspaper such as The Age have succumbed to a degree of carelessness. Misinformation, erroneous facts and sloppiness are three of seven deadly sins when it comes to discourses in non-fiction and travel writing, and must surely call into question the dexterity of your writers as competent researchers.
The issue has caused much distress amongst Greek-Australians for reasons already stipulated and must be addressed. As medium of communication and information, The Age owes its longstanding Australian audience a duty of both truthful and accurate reporting. The paper must therefore pursue an ethical course of action–a formal apology to the Greek community of Australia and a swift amendment of the article’s content.
On behalf of the Greek community of Austalia, AMAC and myself, I strongly urge you to take this next step, otherwise an explanation as to why it cannot be enacted is quite necessary.
Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (AMAC)
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