The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
June 3, 2011
The following letter was sent to the Prime Minister’s office electronically on May 25, 2011. We are now sending it via fax. The original letter as follows:
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
We at the Hellenic Congress of Quebec, representatives of 66,000 Quebec citizens of Greek ethnic origin, would like to congratulate you on your party’s re-election in this spring’s parliamentary elections and wish you and your government well in tackling Canada’s issues on a local and on a global scale. We are also writing to you to express some thoughts about recent Hellenic-related matters that involve your government.
Additionally, we wish you and your delegation a successful trip to Greece this coming weekend and hope that many positive things are achieved during this trip for both Canada and Greece. We would have hoped greatly that you could have included in your itinerary a trip to Greece’s north to see the archaeological museum of Vergina, Macedonia (a historic and integral part of Greece) where the royal tombs of the Macedonian kings are displayed. This would have been something we Greeks would have been proud to showcase to you and your delegation considering the point of contention Greek-Canadians have had with your government since 2007 vis-à-vis the name of the fledgling state north of Greece.
We remain disappointed by the Canadian government’s decision under your leadership to forego the UN-endorsed name for Greece’s northern neighbour in 2007 and recognize it as the “Republic of Macedonia” for bilateral purposes. As per UN Resolution #817 (1993) and the UN-sponsored Interim Accord between Athens and Skopje (1995), the mutually agreed upon name for Skopje’s state is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). This is until a new name (under the auspices of the UN) is agreed upon by both countries. We are confident in stating that all of the 240,000 Canadians of Greek origin felt alienated then, and continue to feel alienated by your government’s action.
What is even more concerning is that one of Skopje’s largest diaspora lobby groups, the Canadian chapter of the United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), has been openly courting your government over the last two years. As per the most recent Canada census in 2006, they represent about 36,000 of their compatriots in Canada yet curiously claim in their public letters to you (even as recently as May 20, 2011) that they are over 250,000 in Canada [1, 2].
This most recent letter to you urged you to essentially scold the Greek government on behalf of their people for perceived oppressions against a so-called “Macedonian minority” in Greece’s north. We wonder why the UMD has decided to advise your government on Canada’s foreign affairs and relations. Nevertheless, they do not fail to remind you that there are supposedly “over 250,000 Macedonians” who vote in Canada.
As you recall, in June 2010 you were honoured and given an award by the UMD for your “boldness” in recognizing the “Republic of Macedonia” (as reported by the UMD) . You graciously accepted this award via video and expressed praise for the UMD in a laudatory speech. This happened at their 2nd Global Conference in Toronto, where Toronto millionaire and UMD member and supporter, John Bitove Sr., was interviewed by Mr. Metodija Koloski (the UMD president) and stated to a cheering crowd that he wished for a “United Macedonia”. This is an irredentist term used by ultranationalists in the FYROM and represents a fictitious country encompassing lands from its neighbours including the majority of Greece’s north [4, 5]. He further stated that he hoped he would see this in his lifetime. Prior to the conference, the UMD was contemplating on the internet how they would highlight a “genocide of Macedonians by Greeks” at this event as a means to smear Greece to invited dignitaries such as yourself and our country’s Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Minister, Jason Kenney. It is ironic that while the UMD touts itself as a group that fights for human rights of all peoples, its president believes in pseudoscientific theories that Greeks descend from sub-Saharan tribes while they are “from an older [and inherently ‘whiter’] Mediterranean substratum” . They are also affiliated with internet groups like the forum of Maknews.com, a Toronto-based website that spews hate-filled propaganda against Greeks from Greece, and fellow Canadians of Greek origin. We question the appropriateness of high ranking members of the Canadian government associating with groups such as the UMD.
We understand that as Prime Minister of Canada, you represent all Canadians and will respond to community groups that wish to make their community’s needs known. We also agree that the country that we live in and call “home”, Canada, should be a global champion for democracy and human rights. However, in this case, the UMD does nothing but promote an agenda against Greece (and Greeks – including fellow Canadian citizens) using dubious claims and a foreign state-sponsored propaganda that stems from Skopje’s nationalist governmental circles. We feel that by recognizing the FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia”, Canada has contributed to its increasing nationalistic rhetoric inside and outside its borders. In a famous diatribe, published by the Research Institute for European and American Studies, it is not the “name issue” that is destabilizing the country, but rather Skopje is contributing to its own instability . Furthermore, we feel that you and the Canadian public should be made aware of the UMD’s intent, and we express our concern in regards to their increasing and inappropriate attempts in courting your office.
President, Hellenic Congress of Quebec
cc: Dimitris Soudas (Communications Director and Spokesman to the Prime Minister of Canada); Canadian and Greek-Canadian Media.
1) http://umdiaspora.org/content/view/571/1/ (last accessed May 25, 2011)
2) http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20110525-908827.html?reflink=barrons_redirect Article: Harper’s Historic Opportunity to Bring Canadian Values to Greece. (Last accessed May 25, 2011)
3) http://umdiaspora.org/content/view/484/1/ (Last accessed May 24, 2011)
4) http://umdiaspora.org/content/view/487/1/ (Last accessed May 24, 2011)
5) target=”_blank”> (see especially from 3 minutes on; last accessed June 1, 2011).
6) http://www.maknews.com/html/articles/pan_mac_resolutions/koloski_pan_mac_1.html (Last accessed May 24, 2011)
7) http://www.rieas.gr/research-areas/greek-studies/678.html (Last accessed May 25, 2011).
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