Letter to the Honourable Bob Rae, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, from the Hellenic Congress of Quebec
The Honourable Bob Rae
Leader, Liberal Party of Canada
514 Parliament Street
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Dear Mr. Rae,
I am writing to you as the president of the Hellenic Congress of Quebec, representing 66,000 Canadians of Greek origin who live in the province of Quebec, regarding your recent salutation to the “Macedonian-Canadian” community that celebrated its country’s 20 years of independence from Yugoslavia on September 8, 2011. In your statement dated on the same day, you referred to this country as “the Republic of Macedonia” .
While we understand that Canada has bilaterally recognized this country under its constitutional name in 2007 thereby alienating the 240,000-strong Canadians of Greek descent, we feel it necessary to highlight that 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. The UN members who have recognized the FYROM under its constitutional name will be able to adopt the newly-agreed name.
We must also highlight that when Prime Minister Steven Harper’s Conservative government decided to forego the UN’s wishes and use the appellation “Republic of Macedonia”, the Liberal Party of Canada had always followed the recommendation of the UN and was not in agreement with the Conservative decision.
While it is totally appropriate to congratulate a country’s independence and achievement of liberty – a sentiment expressed by us to our fellow Canadians from the FYROM – the celebrations in Skopje were overshadowed by irredentist and potentially dangerous expressions of territorial expansion at the expense of Greece’s northern province of Macedonia [2, 3].
The seeming complicity by the ruling government in Skopje to these events are troubling to us, to our fellow Greeks worldwide, and – as a global leader for the promotion of peace – they should be troubling to Canada. Promotion of the idea of a fictitious “United Macedonia” by the ruling government in the FYROM, and by the FYROM community leaders here in Canada further add to our alarm [4, 5]. This does not lead to good “fellowship” and a “strong and harmonious Canada” as is the expressed wish in your statement.
Moreover, by publicly referring to the FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia”, Canada seems to be taking sides in a long-standing international dispute that has only hardened Skopje’s stance, emboldening its agendas that are based on dubious claims and irredentism. These officially-sponsored ideologies do not belong in the 21st century world. Mr. Rae, please note that is a sensitive issue for Canadians of Greek descent and we seek an understanding of our positions from Canada’s leaders.
President, Hellenic Congress of Quebec
2) In the following video, a giant flag of the Greek “Vergina Sun” over a map of “United Macedonia” encompassing the lands of Greece and Bulgaria, is displayed at the official 20th Anniversary festivities in Skopje on September 8, 2011 (see after 2:15 minutes, last accessed September 9, 2011):
3) In the following video, the FYROM’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his government officials (including President Gjorge Ivanov) are seen enjoying a performance of the song “Biser Balkanski” (Pearl of the Balkans) during the official 20th Anniversary festivities in Skopje on September 8, 2011. The lyrics of Biser Balkanski encourage forceful territorial change in the Balkans. They are:
“Hey, Macedonia, Pearl of the Balkans, Aegean [region of Macedonia in Greece] and Pirin [region in Bulgaria]: join with the clear waters of the Vardar. Leave conquerors…enemies!”
(last accessed September 9, 2011).
4) The FYROM’s Prime Minister Gruevski laying a wreath under a map of “United Macedonia” in 2008. http://modern-macedonian-history.blogspot.com/2008/08/stop-gruevski-before-its-too-late.html
5) Toronto businessman and community leader John Bitove Sr. being interviewed by Skopje’s “United Macedonian Diaspora” lobby-group president in Toronto (2010). He stated to a cheering crowd that he wished for a “United Macedonia”. (see especially from 3 minutes on; last accessed June 1, 2011): target=”_blank”>
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