The Honourable Bob Rae
Leader, Liberal Party of Canada
514 Parliament Street
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
On behalf of the members of the PanMacedonian Association of Canada, the largest organization of Canadians of Greek origin from the region of Macedonia in Greece, we are writing to you to express our concern regarding your congratulatory statement to our fellow Canadians from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (the FYROM) on September 8, 2011 . This date marked the 20th anniversary since Skopje declared its independence from Belgrade in 1991. Just like you do, we share the same conviction that liberty and freedom should be celebrated, promoted, and congratulated, and we extend our congratulations to our northern neighbours and their diaspora communities. However, in your letter you addressed our fellow Canadians from the FYROM as “Macedonian-Canadians”, and you lauded their contribution to a “harmonious” Canada. The PanMacedonian Associations all around the world have been at the forefront of protecting the Hellenism of Macedonia ever since that famous US State Department circular Airgram in 1944 to all US diplomatic missions stated that talk of a “Macedonian nation” was “demagoguery” aimed at “aggressive intentions” against Greece [2, 3].
The Liberal Party of Canada has always been a party that Canadians of Greek descent have had a great working relationship with. When Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative government – following US President Bush’s lead – recognized the FYROM as “Republic of Macedonia” in 2007, this was seen as an affront to the sensitivities of all Greeks worldwide even though the action was of course made naively and without any malicious intent. As Macedonians, we too were alienated and continue to be so. Thankfully, we were relieved to see that the Liberal Party opposed this action by Canada’s Tory government.
Greece and its northern neighbour have been at the UN negotiating table since 1995 when both parties agreed to an Interim Accord and an interim name (the FYROM) until a new name could be mutually agreed upon under the auspices of the UN. The fact that Skopje has promoted itself as “Republic of Macedonia” – against the wishes of the UN – at the bilateral level is irrelevant. However, it is important to state that the promotion of this mistake by third countries such as Canada has only hardened Skopje’s stance and has thwarted all attempts of a solution to this imbroglio. There are many examples of irredentism at the expense of Greece (and Canadians of Greek descent) by official Skopje and its diaspora. At the anniversary celebrations, ruling government officials presided over events that promoted the violent break-up of Greece’s north with annexation to their country . Skopje’s diaspora lobby group – the “United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD)” – promoted the partition of Greece in 2010 in Toronto. All this was in front of cheering crowds of “Macedonian-Canadians” .
This is disturbing and is anachronistic for our times. It is also against the vision of Canada and what we hold dear for the future of the world. We trust Mr. Rae, that the Liberal Party of Canada and you can see our concern in these developments. As a result, our representatives look forward to, and welcome, a planned meeting with you along with other Greek-Canadian organizations in the very near future.
PanMacedonian Association of Canada
2) The Department [of State] has noted with considerable apprehension increasing propaganda rumors and semi-official statements in favor of an autonomous Macedonia, emanating principally from Bulgaria, but also from Yugoslav Partisan and other sources, with the implication that Greek territory would be included in the projected state. This government considers talk of Macedonian “nation”, Macedonian “Fatherland”, or Macedonian “national consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.
4) 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) and it has the following lyrics:
“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!”
5) Toronto businessman and community leader John Bitove Sr. being interviewed by UMD president Metodija Koloski 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):
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