WORLD PAN-MACEDONIAN ASSOCIATIONS
Coordinator of the Committee
of World Pan-Macedonian Associations
Email: [email protected]
September 3, 2014
Dear Madame Chancellor,
We, the worldwide representatives of about 3.5 million Macedonians, (Greeks originating from Macedonia in Greece), would like to highlight our interest in statements made by you at the recent Western Balkans Conference in Berlin on August 28, 2014. While we – as does Greece – agree with the ideal of incorporating the now independent countries of the former Yugoslavia and Albania into the Euro-Atlantic organizations, we are troubled by your implication that the FYROM is ready for EU membership.
Furthermore, you have recently stated that the name issue with Greece has to be resolved “urgently” and that both countries have to show “willingness for reconciliation”, and that this compromise will only result when both sides are “equally unhappy”. Respectfully in our opinion, while this may appeal to Germany, it is not realistic since it solves nothing. More importantly, it is more than just a “name” issue. It is an issue that involves cultural and historical integrity, national security, and economic copyright for Greece.
As you know very well, Greece – a member of the Eurozone and a partner in the EU – has boldly compromised and reached out to its northern neighbor for at least 2 decades now. However, there has been no reciprocation from Skopje and there is nothing more left for Greece to compromise. To paraphrase the Greek Foreign Ministry last week, the key to success for the name issue does not rest with Athens but rather with its northern neighbor, as it is a matter of respecting neighbors and international law by the nationalist government in Skopje.
European Union integration requires a country to meet the Copenhagen Criteria and we have seen an erosion of democracy from the government in Skopje. Erwan Fouere, the EU’s former veteran representative in Skopje stated in April’s Balkan Insight news magazine that Greece’s northern neighbor is “a state where government controls all the levers of power, including the judiciary and the electoral process, does not tolerate any minority or dissenting views, and uses fear and intimidation to exercise its authority over society.” The currently coined term “illiberal democracy” can also be used to describe the fledging Balkan nation, and we fear the EU will inherit Skopje’s problems if international pressure is not placed on Skopje to change from within first.
While Greece has extended the olive branch and has economically supported Skopje, the world has witnessed how the FYROM has repeatedly violated its obligations to the Interim Agreement, disrespected decisions 817/1993 and 845/1993 of the UN Security Council, and ignored the European Council decisions taken in Brussels on 12/16/1991, in Guimarães on 5/3/1992, in Lisbon on 6/27/1992, as well as in Edinburgh on 12/12/1992. It has also ignored the recommendations of the European Parliament to develop good neighborly relations with Greece. Nothing is more evident than the Pharaonic works that Prime Minister Gruevski has personally overseen in his government’s “Skopje 2014” project.
This anachronistic project usurps Greek and Bulgarian history, virtually ignoring the contributions of Albanians to the nation, raised the country’s national debt to over 40% of the GDP while ethnic tensions with the Albanians, and unemployment as well as poverty are reported at alarming rates. Actions such as erecting statues of Greek heroes, re-naming airports and highways after Alexander the Great, and generally provoking the Greek people are not examples of good neighborly acts. Moreover, tolerating and even brazenly supporting irredentist and ultranationalist rhetoric about “United Macedonia” (both in the country and in its diaspora) is worrisome to say the least.
Unfortunately, the government in Skopje maintains and pursues hostile propaganda against Greece and this is embedded in textbooks at all levels of the educational system. While the first President of the Republic, Kiro Gligorov, had publicly declared they had no ancient connections whatsoever, the current official attitude in the country is one of antiquisation and an imagined glorious ancient past, culminating in the creation of an ethnicity that has never existed in history.
Madame Chancellor, we would like to ask how the German people would feel if in a theoretical world, a province of the Czech Republic were to call itself “Bavaria” under political circumstances, then declare independence and promote itself as “the real Bavaria”? A whole generation in Greece’s neighbor has been poisoned with daily ideas that Greece’s Macedonian region is an extension of the FYROM. It is the Greek people that have to face this in the future – not the German people.
Finally, there is historical precedent for what Greece is doing: After World War I, the Allies, worried that there would be future troubles in the region, renamed “Deutschosterreich” to “Osterreich” (Austria). As such, Greece is well within its right to defend its history, culture, strategic interests, and national security not only now but especially in an uncertain future.
Madame Chancellor, a reconciliation of issues with Skopje requires diplomatic finesse and not urgency or unhappiness. We too acknowledge the current difficult times in Eastern Europe, and would like to see all of the Western Balkans enter the Euro-Atlantic family and achieve stability. However, we would hope that this does not happen at all costs (and disregarding your Greek ally’s concerns) by accepting a country that is not ready to enter the EU just yet.
We hope that we have conveyed our concerns to you Madame Chancellor and we thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Pan-Macedonian Association USA- Dimitris Chatzis, Supreme President
Pan-Macedonian Association Australia – Dimitris Minas, President
Pan-Macedonian Association Canada – Demetris Yantsulis, President
Pan-Macedonian Association Europe – Archimandrite Panteleimon Tsorbatzoglou, President
Pan-Macedonian Associations of Africa – Amyntas Papathanasiou, President
THE COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF MACEDONIAN ORGANIZATIONS
Nina Gatzoulis, Coordinator (Representing over 150 Macedonian Organizations)
Philoptohos Brotherhood of Men of Thessaloniki – Theodore Dardavesis, President
Florina Chapter in Thessaloniki – Demitrios Gakis, President
Association of Pisoderites the World Over “Saint Trinity”- Michael Liakos, President
Thracian Hearth of Thessaloniki-Benjamin Karakostanoglou, President
Federation of Western Macedonian Associations of Thessaloniki-George Tzoulis, President
“Omada 21” (Team 21) Macedonia – Thrace – Antonios Daskopoulos, President
Pan-Hellenic Federation of Cultural Chapters of the Macedonians – George Tatsios, President
ASSOCIATIONS BELONGING TO THE MACEDONIAN “COUNCIL”
Florina Chapter of the Descendants of the Macedonian Struggle Fighters
Amyntaio Chapter of the Descendants of the Macedonian Struggle Fighters
Florina Educational Team “Aristotle”
Cultural Chapter of Sitaria Florina
Cultural Chapter “New Horizons” Sitaria, Florina
Cultural Chapter “Alexander the Great” of Polyplatanos, Florina
Alexander the Great Chapter of Ethniko-Kratero-Agia Paraskevi
Carrier of history and Culture “Iera Drys” of Kella, Florina
Cultural-Educational Chapter “Amyntas” of Skopia, Florina
Connection of Letters and Arts of Kozani Prefecture
Cultural Chapter of Kozani “The Macedonians”
Association of Edessa’s citizens “Ion Dragoumis” Association of Macedonian Veteran Descendants of Edessa and Almopia
Folklore Society of Pella Prefecture
Association of Edessa’s Friends of Antiquities “The Timenides”
Cultural Association “Edessa’s Book Friends”
Association of “Macedonian Cultural Home” of Aridaia
Association of “Friends of Macedonian Cultural Tradition” of Almopia
Educational Association of Ida Eksaplatanos “Ion Dragoumis”
Historical and Folklore Society of Giannitsa “Filippos”
Macedonian Dance and Cultural Association “Amyntas” of Kalyvia
Educational and Environmental Club of Pella “Ancient Pella”
Cultural Association of Kato Grammatiko “Patriarchis Xrysanthos”
Community of Letters and Arts of Kozani Prefecture
Educational Association of Florina “Aristotle”
Cultural Association of Ethniko-Kratero- Agia Paraskevi of Florina “Alexander the Great”.
Cultural Association “Elpida Melitis”of Florina.
Pan- Hellenic Association of Macedonian Veteran Descendants “Pavlos Mellas” Pan-Hellenic Cultural Society “Makednos” Thessaloniki
Cultural and Educational Society in Arnaia-Chalkidiki
Macedonian Artistic Society of Kilkis “Art”
Society for Study and Research of the History of Serres
Youth Educational Chapter of Arnissa
Educational-Cultural Chapter Lefkadion “St. Paraskevi”
Chapter of Startsovites & Friends “St. Minas” New Petritsi – Serres
Association of people from Monastiri (Bitola) of Thessaloniki “Karteria”
Macedonian & Thracian Association of Papagou and Holargou –Athens
Association of Women from Thessaloniki-Macedonia in Athens
Pan-Macedonian Association of the Macedonian Struggle-Thessaloniki
Pan-Macedonian Confederation in Athens
Federation of Western Macedonian Associations in the Prefecture of Attica
Confederation of Macedonians in the area of Attica
Association “Alexander Filippou Greek Macedon”
Cultural Association of Kozani “Oi Makednoi”
Macedonian Association of VolosCultural Association Grivas-Kilkis
Cultural Association of Polyplatanos-Naousa
Youth Cultural Association of Polyplatanos-Naousa
Friends of the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, Prefecture of Kastoria
Association of Drama’s Cultural Studies
Informative Committee of National Issues
Macedonian Chapter “Alexander the Great”in Iraklio, Attica
Cc: Foreign Policy Chief of the European Union, Federica Mogherini
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