Coordinator of the Committee
of World Pan-Macedonian Associations
Another attempt of anti-Greek delirium at the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts was carried by Daniel Serwer, Senior Research Professor of Conflict Management from the University of Johns Hopkins, on April 17, 2015, under the academic discussion, titled “Analyzing the Dispute on the name issue between Macedonia and Greece: Twenty Years after the Interim Agreement”.
The other panelists were the special UN mediator on the name issue of FYROM, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, and Mr. Boshko Stankovski, Graduate Research Fellow, Harvard Negotiations Program. Moderator of the discussion was the Harvard’s Department Chair of the Program on Negotiation, Dr. Robert H. Mnookin.
Mr. Nimetz spoke first, giving a short summary of his time serving at the UN as mediator. He also explained whom he worked with and what efforts were made to arrive at the current impasse. Mr. Nimetz stated that when referring to the neighboring country he most often uses the name of FYROM’s capital, Skopje and he does the same with Greece’s capital, Athens, i.e, “The position of Skopje, or the position of Athens …”. The mediator emphasized particularly how difficult his job is and how the process evolves, when he sees one delegation, and when he sees the members of the other. He mentioned that it is his responsibility to travel to Skopje, Thessaloniki and Athens. He also explained that sometimes he sees members of the Greek and FYROM Diaspora.
Mr. Boshko Stankovski’s presentation was centered with the results of the International Court in The Hague, saying that Greece lost the trial. He added that according to the Interim Agreement, Greece cannot block Skopje’s accession to various international organizations (he however failed to mention that according to the interim accord, Skopje should have applied for entry with FYROM as a name but now must comply with good neighborly criteria and resolve its name issue as imposed by the EU and NATO).
Dr. Daniel Serwer’s presentation was an anti-Greek downpour, trying to convince the audience that the name issue is of no significance and what matters is the inclusion of Skopje into NATO and that Greece should stop bullying “Macedonia”. In his delirium he said that it is scientifically proven that the modern Greeks have nothing in common with the ancient Greeks and the only ones associated with the ancient Macedonians are the Vlachs. The language now spoken by modern Greeks has nothing to do with the ancient Greek language. He emphasized that there are cities in many parts of the world that bear names of ancient Greek and Roman cities and no one complains about it.
The Coordinator, Dr. Mnookin, appeared to be agreeing with Dr. Serwer’s torrential anti-Greek statements, moving his head affirmatively. Mr. Nimetz, to his credit, intervened and referred to the propaganda emanating from FYROM and he also mentioned the school books in Skopje’s education system that promote propaganda against Greece.
We had answers to all of Mr. Serwer’s pseudo-arguments, due to an extensive discussion that took place between the moderator and the panellists, the time for us to provide our answers one by one during the questions and answers period became very limited. I personally asked the following question and provided photographical proof of actual Skopjian events that I mentioned:
How can Athens negotiate in good faith with Skopje when Skopje’s government promotes its propaganda through various politicians and diplomats posing under maps of a supposedly United “Macedonia” with the Greek and Bulgarian parts included within Skopje’s territory? These persons are not merely private citizens, but actual officials of the Skopje government.
How could Athens discuss the issue of the name in good faith when Skopje fanaticizes its youth through its educational system, promoting that Macedonia is divided and must be united? The photographs that we had with us and reflected our questions, were handed to the coordinator Dr. Moonkin. Mr. Boshko Stankovski made an attempt to negate these as events of private citizens but when the pictures dipicted definite proof of government officials and the country’s school system he then refered to the Interim Agreement Article 7, 3rd par., and that Greece had to report these violations.
Since the main theme of this presentation was the inability to resolve the name issue after twenty years of discussions, Mr. Bill Gatzoulis of our group raised the issue (which left the panelists and the moderator with a great deal of thought), that from the beginning the name issue started with the wrong premise as the term “Macedonia” did not fit as the name for the neighboring country. Internally almost 35% of the population consists of Albanians who want to be called Ethnic Albanians (Mr. Nimetz spoke up in agreement of this also) and the remainder of the population consists of numerous other minorities and of its majority population of Slavs who have adopted a self created “Macedonian” identity.
The theory that prevailed in UN and other associated circles that the name “Macedonia” will play a unifying role did not stand as after twenty years now the Albanian and Slavic elements of the country are still in constant conflict and do not show any signs of becoming permanently united. In addition, it is unfortunate that the coordinators of this event chose such a misleading title as “Conflict between Macedonia and Greece” as externally the name “Macedonia” is problematic not only with Greece but also with Bulgaria and Serbia. Bulgaria has similar problems with Skopje as Greece in that Skopje is usurping parts of the Bulgarian history also. With Serbia the problem was created when their Orthodox church which was within the Serbian Patriarchate was broken away by removing and jailing its Archbishop and creating it as a schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church for political purposes and not belonging or recognized by any Patriarchate.
The last question from a third party was directed to Mr. Boshko Stankovski asking if he agrees with his country’s government, that has vigorously embarked in the “Macedonian antiquization” erecting statues after ancient Greek figures, naming avenues with ancient Greek names, while the FYROM tries to join the European Union. And the awkward answer by Mr. Stankovski was that he agrees with the listener
The panel members and moderator seemed disturbed by these pertinant facts that are major components that can not be ignored in analyzing the impass on the name issue after twenty years. Why were they not taken into account by the scholars of such a prestigious school as Harvard? But then… only about twenty five people were present to witness such a fiasco… we wonder how serious they are in trying to find what the problem was in the last twenty years.
Perhaps next time they should consider discussing: ‘THE NAME DOESN’T FIT”.
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