April 28, 2010
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Re: April 2010 Cover Story of State Magazine
Dear Secretary Clinton:
As national president of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), and on behalf of the three million Americans of Greek heritage, and countless Philhellenes, I am writing to express concern about the April 2010 cover story of State Magazine by Stephanie Rowlands titled, “Skopje, Ancient Macedonia builds modern democracy.” 1
Our primary concern with Ms. Rowlands’ article is that its content will only further bolster FYROM’s intransigence in the quest to find a mutually-agreeable solution to its name under U.N.-sponsored negotiations with Greece. For example, by providing only a “thumb-nail sketch” of the FYROM name issue, Rowlands’ would have the reader believe that the issue is one-sided.
“Ever since the country declared independence in 1991, Greece has objected to the use of “Macedonia,” resulting in the postponement of Macedonia’s inclusion in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Union accession talks.”
In this example, Rowlands fails to mention the concessions Greece has agreed to since the time the Interim Accord was signed between Greece and FYROM in 1995. Today, Greece has expressed a willingness to accept a composite name with a geographical qualifier. This type of political will has not been extended to Greece by FYROM. Instead, FYROM continues to provoke Greece, its largest investor of more than $1 billion, with acts that do not lend to trust-building and break the Interim Accord.
Secondly, given the sensitivities over geography between Greece and FYROM (where in FYROM’s educational system textbooks instruct students about territorial claims in Greece), it is an enigma to me how Rowlands, or her editor, could allow a provocative statement as “Today, major portions of historical Macedonia lie within neighboring countries”. It is distressing to see and it speaks volumes of how unaware or uninformed the broader State Department community is to an issue that has significant ramifications to the United States’ best interests in the region.
Finally, we contend the article misleads when it comes to FYROM’s “deep tradition of tolerance.” The Greek American
community, and more broadly, the global community, was outraged when billboards in Skopje depicted Greek flags that were defaced with a Nazi swastika in place of a Cross. In addition to defacing the Greek flag, a magazine sketch of then-Prime Minster Konstantinos Karamanlis wearing a Nazi SS uniform was also published. These blatant and disturbing displays of hate propaganda that occurred in the spring of 2008 were condoned by the government in Skopje. As American citizens, we are concerned that our taxpayer dollars, roughly $23 million, are going to support a government that condones such acts of intolerance, hatred, and bigotry; and disseminates propaganda. Moreover as Ahepans we are members of an organization that was founded to combat the evils of bigotry and hate at the hands of the KKK. Therefore, it’s clear why we condemn these acts and find them unacceptable.
Secretary Clinton, we understand
State Magazine is published to serve as a vehicle or conduit of information between State Department management and employees that provides the latter with the latest developments on administrative policies, procedures, or trends within the department. We also acknowledge that diplomatic posts are highlighted in an effort to create awareness to employees about a potential future post. However, in this case, we are of the strong opinion that Ms. Rowlands’ cover story provides misinformation about a post—FYROM—that ultimately does a disservice to United States interests in the region.
We thank you for your consideration of our concerns, and we look forward to your reply.
Nicholas A. Karacostas
The mission of the AHEPA family is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility and family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism.
Cc: Rob Wiley, Editor-in-Chief, State Magazine
Adam Scarlatelli, Senior Greek Desk Officer, Department of State
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