Honorable Kelly O’Dwyer
(member of the House of Representatives for the federal seat of Higgins)
Honorable Jenny Mikakos
(Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and a Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Northern Metropolitan Victoria)
Mr. Bill Papastergiadis
(President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne & Victoria)
Mr. Dimitris Minas
(President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne & Victoria)
Members of the AMAC Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
As I was surfing the Internet, I saw a statement that the Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (ΑΜΑC) had posted under an article I had published proclaiming that the AMAC are: “Proud indigenous Macedonians, proud Greeks – one people, one language, one culture, one country.” I strongly feel that we must protect this heritage and this is the message I am here to convey.
For quite some time now certain Non Governmental Organizations or NGOs believe that countries should recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the “Republic of Macedonia” as a matter of domestic and regional stability. In the beginning, we thought these people were unaware of the history of the region or were even mistaken. We wrote letters explaining our most legitimate reasons and concerns, and yet the same people not only ignored us, but they insisted even more rigorously that we should recognize as “Macedonians” those whom NATO itself has called Slavs.
Their prevailing opinion is that the Slav inhabitants of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) feel inhibited by not having an officially recognized identity, and that it is tremendously beneficial to be called “Macedonians.” The same individuals argue that this insecurity will be the disintegration of the FYROM and not the ethnic antagonism and animosity between the Slavs and the Albanians. The FYROM, by any standards, is a multiethnic and multicultural country and it should remain, and develop in this manner. Unfortunately, some people do not want to understand that the reason for the conflict between the two main ethnic groups is the monopolization of the state by the Slavs as if it were an ethnically and a culturally unitary country.
Other NGOs pressure Greece for an expedient solution to the problem. They are also persuaded that the people of the FYROM have to have an identity. We have no problem with that, but it is not the fault of the Greek people why the Slavs never adopted a name. However, we cannot accept the usurpation of the Greek name and use of the Greek history, the Greek heritage, and the Greek culture by a Slavic people. They may not have the Greek identity just because they like the Greek heritage. It is not as if the whole Albanian-Slavic conflict started because of the name of the country or the lack of identity of the Slavs. Nevertheless, their ethnic identity is simply Slavs. Now they want to become Greeks (!!), because if they are Macedonians they are Greeks. There is NO other way of stating it.
There is a plethora of controversies and policies precipitated by groups of die-hard communists and ultra nationalists in that country accompanied by naive, uneducated, and gullible people. The problems we are experiencing today in the former Yugoslavia are the result of a strategic plan going sour. The players were supposed to remain united until after the following two goals were accomplished:
• Internally: the enticement of chauvinistic tendencies of the ethnic groups living in the communist Yugoslavia and,
• Externally: the subsequent claim and incorporation of neighboring lands into communist Yugoslavia.
After the dismemberment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ), the different countries proceeded with imperialistic visions of their ethnic groups claiming not only territories, but also ancestry from various ancient peoples to have a proud history and legitimacy for their present existence. The Slovenes claim to be descendants of the Wends, an ancient Illyrian tribe, the Croats of the Persians, the Slavs of the FYROM from ancient Macedonians, the Bosnian Moslems from the ancient Illyrian tribes of Bosnia and according to others from the religious sect of the Bogomils from Bulgaria.
However, the FYROM is a peculiar case. The sole purpose of the creation of the Socialist Republic under the name “Macedonia” was the subsequent demand and incorporation of Greek Macedonia into communist Yugoslavia with the port of Thessaloniki as the trophy. During the period of communist Yugoslavia, a systematic “macedonization” of everything possible took place. As long as an event took place in Macedonia, or someone famous was born in the Geographic Macedonia at any time from the beginning of time until today, it was being changed into “Macedonian” meaning Slav.
There has been much confusion since the FYROM’s independence. There have been many discussions and misunderstandings with respect to its name and its dealings with Greece. It brings out the fact that neighbors of Greece, irrespective of international alignments or domestic political regimes, have pursued, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, schemes for expanding into Greek Macedonia and Thrace. Furthermore, it supports the contention that no single Balkan neighbor dared challenge Greek sovereignty over the two Greek northern provinces, unless it was in alliance with one or more Great Powers.
After its independence, The FYROM pursued the expansionist policies of Communist Yugoslavia claiming lands from all neighboring countries with no exception. Unquestionably, Greece and the Greek people do not feel threatened today by a frail FYROM. However, if the FYROM is permitted to progress on a nationalist, expansionist, and even revanchist course, it is guaranteed to seek its own patron who will hand over the “promised lands.” The cases of Eastern Rumelia in 1885 and Kosovo in our days fully support this perception.
The government of the FYROM has already officially appropriated Sts. Cyril and Methodius as being “Macedonians” meaning Slavs only because they were born in Thessaloniki, the Capital of the Greek Macedonia. This is as if the Yugoslavian government declared the Roman Emperor Constantine I, the Great, a Serb only because he was born, in Niš, Serbia.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
At present, we are being pressured to accept the unacceptable, give up the Greek Heritage and pass it to a Slavic nation. Our conviction is being called in a demeaning manner “Balkan” not European. Our thoughts are downgraded to those of the third world. The Greek ethnicity is being harassed for insisting that the name Macedonia and all that it stands for was, is, and will be ours. The International Crisis Group thinks that we should not monopolize the Greek name. The NGO, European Stability Initiative, suggests solutions that are well-hidden minefields. Mr. Matthew Nimetz chaired the Board of the Center of Democracy and Reconciliation of South Eastern Europe from the founding of the organization until December 31st, 2001. He continues to be a board member. However, how can he be a neutral person when he is involved in a project that through its web link takes one to the “Republic of Macedonia” website? Does he represent the UN which recognizes the FYROM and not “Macedonia?” There is a clear conflict of interest.
The Greek heritage is in danger because it is exactly what the FYROM Slavs are after, not just the name. Those who state they “only try to help” in principle do anything possible to take the Greek heritage away, and all this in the name of peace. If they wanted peace they should insist that the Skopje stops using the name Macedonia and the Greek heritage. Let’s not forget the Greek proverb “by eating the appetite increases” and that’s exactly what is going to happen. In the Balkans, countries change borders every 30-50 years. We don’t want to see the borders of Greece changing by losing territories in the future in the name of peace at the present. For example, take the behavior of Turkey, Greece’s neighboring country. The more Greece yields in the name of peace, the more the Turks want. Should we add one more country with the same or worse modus operandi?
There is a difference between an ally and a friend. In today’s world, most countries think more in terms of temporary alliances and less in terms of lasting friendships. People have a short-term memory when it comes to remembering friendships. We live in a world and in a period in which truth, honesty, and friendship are measured according to the level of business interests of the powers that be. Human rights and history, right or wrong, are measured by whether a nation is a business partner, or if it suits a country’s endeavors. Morality is no longer a matter of moral principle, but a matter of business advantage.
Yet the main point is that we have to make sure the Hellenic government and the Hellenic Parliament have a consistent, uniform approach in terms of Greece’s foreign policy. The events of the past 20 years have set numerous traps on the international scene, and we are faced today with the dilemma of “what to do.”
Skopje asserts that it is recognized as Macedonia by more than 125 countries, which might be true. Nevertheless, the devil is always in the
details. There are three categories of recognition, one as the FYROM (as Greece, Australia, France), one as Macedonia erga omnes (as Turkey), and one as Macedonia only bilaterally (as the United States, Canada). Out of the 28 independent member countries of NATO only Turkey internationally recognizes the FYROM with its constitutional name. About 18 years ago and in the beginning of the name issue, the Skopjans started with nothing on Macedonia, and the Greeks with everything, so what does it say to you that the Skopjans have taken over anything on Macedonia and the Greeks are nowhere to be seen on Macedonia?
Gruevski and the like are being encouraged because he and his friends pontificate about the “Macedonian” minority in Greece while Greece is silent. According to the Greek MFA, the FYROM has only 442 Greeks. Except that the number of the Greeks in the town of Pehčevo alone is close to 5,000! In addition, what has happened to the families of those slaughtered during the Krushevo Uprising on the Feast Day of St. Elijah (Ilinden)? The letter of the Greek Consul in Bitola states the names of all the victims, and they are all Greeks. The Greek political elite have created all the Gruevskis of the world because they have done ANYTHING possible to deny the Greek diaspora of any means to fight the Skopjan propaganda abroad. It is as if they side with the Skopjans against their own country, if they still have one.
Over the years, Skopje has made ridiculous political demands and accusations against Greece to provoke Greece’s rejection, to shift domestic and the international community’s consciousness from their problems to Athens’ alleged obstructionism. Greece has demonstrated absolute ignorance of the degree of saturation of the international public opinion on the matter. The important vector of education of the world and a significant opinion maker such as the Internet is still ignored. Increasingly it becomes more apparent that the external policy of the Greek MFA on the Macedonia name dispute is formulated in Skopje. Skopje passes its deceptive messages to Athens with the help of NGOs such as the Center of Democracy and Reconciliation of South Eastern Europe, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy or ELIAMEP, the Center of Research of Minority Groups or KEMO, and others.
Successive governments of Greece have refused to erect the statue of Alexander the Great in Athens as being a conqueror. How can a Greek be the conqueror of Greece? Perhaps a statue of Alexander the Great erected in Athens would be against the political attitude of the present Athenian political oligarchy in power. Alexander was not the conqueror of anything. Alexander was the one who ordered that the non-Greek children learn Greek letters. He is the one who spread the Greek civilization everywhere his Greek soul wandered.
Whether he was a Greek or not, Alexander the Great has made it abundantly clear. He said it directly twice, once after the battle of Granicus in a form of an inscription in which Alexander stated, “Alexander the son of Philip, and the Greeks, except the Lacedaemonians, won these from the barbarians who inhabit Asia.” He also mentioned in the letter he sent to Darius, “Your ancestors invaded Macedonia and the rest of Greece, inflicting harm on us without provocation.” In addition, in the Pan-Hellenic Conference called by the Spartans in 371 BC, Macedonia was offered a seat as a Greek State. At that time, Macedonia was an obscure kingdom, so there was no matter of appeasement. In addition, ancient Greek and Roman historians as Plutarch and Marcus Velleius Paterculus offer us the genealogy of Alexander the Great as paternally descended from Heracles (Hercules) and maternally from Achilles. The reason Eugene Borza and others do not consider the Macedonians as Greeks is because they left from the main corpus of the Greek family exceedingly early in the history of Greece, at the beginning of the Iron Age. The same scholars consider the Arcadians to be Greeks although they left the main corpus of Greece for Cyprus about 300 years before the Macedonians did! If the Arcadians left Peloponnese for Cyprus much earlier than the Macedonians, how is it possible that the Arcadians are considered Greeks, but the Macedonians are not? The answer has nothing to do with history; it has to do with politics.
Stephen Miller, Professor Emeritus of the University of California – Berkeley initiated a letter sent to President Obama on May 18th, 2009, signed as of September 27, 2010 by more than 368 scholars of Classics from 23 different countries and the list continues to grow. Yet, not one politician of Greece has taken advantage of this letter; not one! These scholars, most of them non-Greeks, did not write the letter to the American President to take the Greek side, or to support the Greek cause. They wrote this letter to protect their field, to protect the integrity of HISTORY. If we, the Greek people, and I am not referring to the political elite right now, accept anything else we do not only put ourselves against the 368 scholars, but we also become accomplices to an international crime, making no effort to stop revisionism and falsification of the historical truth. The FYROM government bases its political arguments on distorted history, while the Greek government disregards history as “a thing of the past, looking forward to the future.” Let’s remember George Orwell’s famous statement: “Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past” we start wondering about the future of Greece, since it is not Greece that controls its historical path, but Skopje; if Greece does not control its past, nor its present, how can she control her future?
But this is not all. We encounter historical distortions saturating the Internet incorrectly pointing that Ancient Macedonia was not part of Greece and its inhabitants were either Thracians or Illyrians or even Slavs; all this, without a speck of evidence. I remember a few years back when watching the History Channel that after segments on Alexander the Great they ran this “informative” note: “contrary to popular belief, Alexander was not a Greek, but a Macedonian.” It is like saying “contrary to popular belief Demosthenes was not a Greek, but an Attican.”
Additionally, pretending to be historians some Skopjans misinterpret facts, or others suffer from a lack of reading comprehension, or some, being simply malicious, create “proofs” that have no basis on facts. One supposed historian for quite some time kept saying that the Peace Treaty of Bucharest included a secret clause which called for its expiry in 2013! Apparently the clause was so secret that he is the only one who knew about it! Where did this man come about with such a disinformation? I believe such an idea was based on the “revelation” he had in 1997 from the return of Hong Kong by the United Kingdom to China after 99 years of leasing. But the Treaty of Bucharest has no expiry; it is a treaty of peace as a result of war, not as a result of leasing negotiations. One can only imagine the turmoil in Western Europe if there were an expiration of a treaty such as the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. The Dean of the History Department at the University of Skopje, Todor Čepreganov, disseminated distorted information over the Internet that the ancient Macedonians could not be Greeks because they were engaging in war against the Greeks; “Greeks never fought against each other” he said. Obviously, the so-called “historian” had never read the book The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides. He also said that the Greeks had revolted against the Macedonian tyranny; apparently, he had never read Polybius regarding the suppression of the revolt of Upper Macedonian cities against their own king Philip V.
We are facing constant lies, half truths, and provocations aimed at the loss of the Greek history and the Greek heritage. You, here in Australia, know well what I mean. You see it on a daily basis. Hate speech directed at all Greeks as part of the FYROM Slavic vocabulary. Pejorative language and demeaning characterizations such as: “these freaks of nature”, “their ugly language”, “these deranged monsters” “thieving nation,” appeared on the Internet in an article authored by a person who calls himself Gandeto which was subsequently reproduced by the ‘Australian Macedonian Weekly’ on May 19, 2009. It is also mentioned in AMAC’s Winter 2010 Newsletter. Skopjan bloggers host statements attacking the Greeks as being of “sub-Saharan origin,” “death to Greeks,” “Greek Gypsy settler,” “death for Greece and Grekomans,” “Greeks get out of our land, our land is Macedonia,” “Greece is a moron society,” etc.
All these statements and events made are covered under the pretext of free speech! Quite the opposite is true; it is not just defamation, it is not just libel, but it is hate speech and it is intolerable. The people who make such statements and those who host them keep going unpunished because we tolerate such behavior. We are asking all in charge of their countries, whether in Athens, Washington, Canberra, Berlin, London, and elsewhere, to protect us from these bias-motivated crimes. We have to make sure that we are legally protected, because the above examples of hate crimes are not individual cases, but the norm. Skopjan officials make irresponsible inflammatory speeches to their diaspora, dreaming of territories under occupation which expect to be liberated. Such irresponsible statements fuel violence, ossify immoral sentiments, and result in explosive consequences with catastrophic results for the region. It is the Balkans, the same region that certain powers believe that the name Macedonia given to the Skopjans will pacify them and thusly stabilize the region. Instead of supporting the above view, the Prime Minster of the FYROM inflames the situation.
On September 3, 2010, Mr. Gruevski said,
“We are fighting to preserve our identity having a serious opponent, which is much more powerful in terms of resources and EU, NATO membership status. The fight is far from being easy, but we have a solid reason for our struggle. We wish for a compromise that will not bring harm to the national interests, one that will be acceptable for the majority of Macedonia’s citizens.” … “The main driving power of each success –the national spirit — is not going to be forgotten, as well. The love for one’s own past inherited values has raised many nations from the ashes. The (project) Skopje 2014 puts an end to the chapter of Macedonia without monuments, partial history, attempt for imposing massive national illiteracy and self-inferiority, accompanied by constant denials of our nation, language, identity, history.”
If Mr. Gruevski worries about that, how much more on edge should the Macedonian Greeks be, who have everything at stake when their history, heroes, culture, art, legacy, territory — in short their civilization and their future are being usurped. This must be a unique case in the history of mankind.
In a provocative picture, Mr. Milošoski, the Foreign Minister of the FYROM, appears at a basketball match holding his 5 year old son who is portraying the flag with the Sun of Verghina on a red background. This is the flag that it is used as part of the FYROM’s expansionist designs and thus considered illegal by the Interim Agreement. How can one ignore the provocative survey of the University of Victoria that took place a few weeks ago financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the FYROM and promoted by the UMD?
Yet, Athens is the one which has abolished the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace; the Bank of Macedonia – Thrace is gone, the Macedonian Press Agency has been incorporated under the Athens Press Agency, and teachers such as Mrs. Hara Nikolopoulou (Χαρά Νικοπούλου) are punished for actually following the letter and the spirit of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. These things happen while people with anti-Hellenic activism as Rikki Van Boeschoten of the University of Thessaly are being employed by the government of Greece in locations and key positions of their choosing. All the above, bring into question the patriotism of those that govern the country.
Patriotism is love for one’s country and transcends political ideology. It differs from chauvinism, which is bellicose patriotism and a blind belief in national superiority and glory. When chauvinism develops into ideology, it turns into nationalism. It is exactly what we encounter in the FYROM which promotes Macedonism. Macedonism is a new political concept, an expression of ultra-nationalism parallel to the national socialist approach to the concept of the state. Macedonism is expressed through the Antiquization process of the FYROM and the euphoric recall of its leadership passed to the FYROM citizens through formal and informal education.
Skopje’s antiquization program has given rise to the so-called Macedonian Prayer. In this Macedonian Prayer … God Himself appears on the side of Skopje in the name dispute. But that is not all. In the same Prayer, God even clarifies the Book of Genesis stating that He created the “Macedonoids,” the first white race! The reason I mention this is that certain professors who teach political science in Greece along with a few pseudo-cultured journalists conveniently equate patriotism to nationalism, and chauvinism. These people discourage Greeks of Greece who want to demonstrate for Macedonia and our cause.
In July 2010, the Skopjans and their propaganda machine worked exceptionally hard to celebrate the National Holiday of Skopje, the Bulgarian Ilinden Uprising in Meliti, Florina Prefecture!!! Mr. Voskopoulos, and those who think alike, brought media and singers from Skopje for the celebration escorted // hear ye, hear ye // by the Greek Ambassador to Skopje! The songs the singers sang, accompanied by bands imported from Skopje, attacked and vilified the evil Greeks for oppressing the “Macedonian” minority!!! All this happened within Greece.
Based on the principle of reciprocity, let us organize a similar Festival in Monastiri (Bitola) or Pehčevo on May 24th 2011, the day that Skopje celebrates the Feast Day of Sts. Cyril and Methodius blasting the Skopjans and their “Macedonism” in their own country, making sure that the Skopjan Ambassador to Athens escorts us to the Festival.
On August 13, 2010 an announcement was made that the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) is sponsoring a delegation of 18 senior Congressional staffers to Macedonia and the Republic of Turkey. According to Mr. McCurdy, president of TCA, the Turkish Coalition of America and the United Macedonian Diaspora are “combining the delegation’s travel to Turkey with a visit to Macedonia in order to help provide the participants with a deeper perspective on the region and the crucial importance of their relationship to the U.S…” The funding for the activities of the TCA and the UMD come from the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) – USA.
So, I am appealing to the sense of patriotism of those who live in Greece and those in the government of Greece, especially the members of the Parliament to remember that nobody has the right to give away Greece’s history and heritage, because they will have to convincingly explain, not only to us, but also to our Greek ancestors and the Greek descendants such “generosity.” They have to contemplate their historical responsibilities.
To those who consider themselves as communists or socialists and believe that patriotism is not for them, I want to remind them what Lenin in his article “On the National Pride of the Great Russians” wrote:
“Is a sense of national pride alien to us, Great-Russian class-conscious proletarians? Certainly not! We love our language and our country, and we are doing our very utmost to raise her toiling masses (i.e., nine-tenths of her population) to the level of a democratic and socialist consciousness.”
Furthermore, in “The Valuable Admissions of Pitirim Sorokin” published in Pravda on November 21, 1918, Lenin states,
“Patriotism is one of the most deeply ingrained sentiments, hammered by the existence of separate fatherlands for hundreds and thousands of years. One of the most pronounced, one might say exceptional, difficulties of our proletarian revolution, is that it was obliged to pass through a phase of extreme departure from patriotism, the phase of the Brest-Litovsk Peace.”
If Lenin saw the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty as an “extreme departure from patriotism,” how can the communists and socialists of Greece justify their opposition to patriotism by giving away their own history and heritage? Or is it something else that motivates them, not necessarily their political affinity?
The Republican People’s Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP)) was created in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the main party of the Center-left, a Socialist Party. This Kemalist Party is not just patriotic; it is undeniably nationalistic. It means that the terms socialism and socialist in Greece have a different meaning from the one used in the international fora.
Regardless of anyone’s political affinity, I am asking where is the patriotism of all those who were elected to lead the Hellenic nation? They must always bear in mind, they are Greeks first and Socialists second, so we are expecting their patriotism, not their internationalism!
And so we disagree with all those who think that an agreement will give the solution. Under the present conditions, an agreement will accelerate the problem instead of ameliorating it. One negotiates only from the point of strength, not of necessity. Only people, who do not know the Balkans, believe otherwise. Had these “experts” known the Balkans as they claim, had they done the right thing for the Balkans, the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia would have been avoided. Their actions have proven their lack of understanding of the Balkans. Knowledge coming from dubious sources or being part of a political theory has led the region to carnage. What we are trying to do is to avoid carnage in the future.
I will close with the following recommendation. Privately, some of my friends and I have been talking about starting a Greek Anti-Defamation Council, or a Greek Defense Fund. I am calling all of you who are proud of your Greek heritage to assist in materializing our thoughts. Let us do it. Let us come in contact with other fellow Greeks the world over and let us form the Greek Anti-Defamation Council. Let us stop the charade of those who maliciously demean the Greek nation, the Greek culture, and the Greek language. Let us form a lobby in world capitals in order to inform the so called “experts.” We have the resources and we have capable, knowledgeable, and educated people. The only thing we need is resolve and a desire to defend what it is ours. Let us stop those who create and disseminate statements of hate. Let us hold responsible all those who fuel hate speech whosoever and wherever they are. Let us seek justice.
Plato in Crito mentions Socrates’ thoughts on the homeland, “The homeland is more honorable and more revered and holier and in greater esteem than our mother and our father and all of our ancestors, to both, the gods and humans who have intelligence.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The homeland Socrates talked about just before his death and for what that homeland stands, we must defend. We are talking about the Greek history, the Greek language, the Greek heritage, the Greek lands; indeed, we are talking about the Greek soul. The truth is on the Greek side!
«πατρὸς τε καὶ μητρός τε καὶ τῶν ἄλλων προγόνων ἁπάντων τιμιώτερον ἐστὶν ἡ πατρὶς καὶ σεμνότερον καὶ ἁγιώτερον καὶ ἐν μείζονι μοίρᾳ καὶ παρὰ θεοῖς καὶ παρ᾽ ἀνθρώποις τοῖς νοῦν ἔχουσι.»
Σᾶς εὐχαριστῶ πολύ γιά τήν φιλοξενία σας.
 Euphoric recall is a process secondary to denial in which the alcohol or drug user remembers only the good or pleasant aspects of substance use.
 Sotsial-Demokrat No. 35, December 12, 1914. V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 107.
 Pravda No. 252, 21 November 1918,; Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1974, pp 185-194.
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