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Macedonians Demand Resignation of Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis May 14, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Canada, Macedonia.
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As expected, the Liberal Party of Canada has, once again, completely ignored racism within their own party. As reported by Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) on March 8, 2011, Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis spewed out more anti-Macedonian hate, caught on video, at a lecture titled “Insight to Hellenism” at the University of Toronto on March 5, 2011.

While praising the lecture, which glorified Greece’s persecution of Macedonians and which defended the bombing of Macedonian civilians during Greece’s Civil War, Karygiannis once again referred to Macedonians as “Skopjans”. This is a term used by Greece to negate the ethnic identity of Macedonians and evokes Greece’s horrific campaigns, past and present, at ethnically cleansing or forcibly assimilating its large Macedonian minority.

On March 8, MHRMI called on “…Canadian politicians, regardless of party affiliation, to demand Jim Karygiannis’ immediate resignation.” To our knowledge, this was to no avail. Ironically, during the election campaign, every other controversial issue related to the “ethnic vote” seemed to be embraced by every political party and reported on in the media.

While addressing one of the guest speakers, Christos Karatzios, Karygiannis said “This (lecture) has to be brought into the House of Commons”, and “…come and enlighten the rest of my colleagues on what is Greece…” He added, “Sir, I would welcome you to send a letter to all the members of parliament…I’d be delighted to help”.

Karygiannis said “…The Skopjans as I have to politically call them…”. What motivates him “politically” to use such a derogatory term? Is he in Canadian parliament to carry out the work of the Greek government?

Karygiannis also referred to Macedonians as “Skopjans” in an interview for the Globe and Mail on September 21, 2007, following Canada’s recognition of the Republic of Macedonia. Canadian-Macedonians were outraged and flooded the Liberal Party with demands that Karygiannis be reprimanded. The Liberal Party ignored the issue and instead chose to attack Canada’s recognition of Macedonia, pandering to the Greek-Canadian community.

MHRMI reiterates its call on Canadian politicians, regardless of party affiliation, to demand Jim Karygiannis’ immediate resignation. We ask that concerned Canadians do the same via the contact information on our website. Jim Karygiannis’ continued presence in Parliament is an affront to traditional Canadian values.

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986.

MHRMI and AMHRC Call on Macedonia to Immediately Cease Name Negotiations May 12, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Human rights abuses, Macedonia, Yunanistan.
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Toronto, Canada and Melbourne, Australia (April 29, 2010) – In light of US Ambassador Philip Reeker’s recent comments that “The [name] issue must be solved, because if not, a question mark is put on Macedonia’s future”, Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) and the Australian Macedonian Human Rights committee (AMHRC) reiterate their call for Macedonia to cease all negotiations with Greece over its name.

Mr. Reeker added, “The clock is ticking, it needs to be done right now, and we encourage both Macedonia and Greece to do this.”

How can you ask a country to negotiate its own name?

The nonsensical name dispute was initiated by Greece in order to continue its policy of non-recognition and persecution of its large Macedonian minority. Former Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis admitted in 1995,

“My main aim was to convince the Republic (of Macedonia) to declare that there is no Slavomacedonian minority in Greece. This was the real key of our difference with Skopje”.

Ironically, Greece claims exclusivity to the name Macedonia, but it was not until 1988 when Greece realized that independence for the Republic of Macedonia was imminent, that it renamed “Northern Greece” to the “Province of Macedonia.”

Consequently, Greece imposed an economic embargo that crippled Macedonia’s economy in 1992, it vetoed Macedonia’s entry into NATO in 2008, and it has continued its decades-old policy of eradication and forcible assimilation of its Macedonian minority.

However, NATO and the European Union allow its member-states to be handcuffed by Greece’s xenophobic policies. Despite overwhelming support for Macedonia’s NATO membership, Greece was permitted to compromise regional stability and use its veto power against Macedonia for one reason – the name dispute.

Instead of reprimanding Greece, the Western world insists on a “solution” to the name dispute. Would any other country negotiate its own name?

The name dispute is akin to the US state of Georgia demanding that the Republic of Georgia change its name or the Belgian province of Luxembourg demanding that Luxembourg change its name.

Furthermore, any proposals to change Macedonia’s international, bilateral, or constitutional name, or to add “qualifiers” such as “Democratic” or “Northern”, would change Macedonia’s identity everywhere and are completely unacceptable.

How can the European Union justify the violation of its own principles by asking Macedonia to change its name?

Greece is the only country that objects to Macedonia’s name. There is no need to find an international or bilateral “solution” based on one country’s irrational and nationalistic fears. Unfortunately, by continuing the negotiations, Macedonia is telling the world that it is willing to compromise. Because of this, even countries that have recognized Macedonia would use any new name that is reached in a bilateral agreement. Macedonia can end the name dispute now and the calls for compromise by ending negotiations over its own name.

MHRMI and AMHRC call on:

1. Macedonia to stop the negotiations immediately and tell the international community that it is not willing to compromise its name and identity.

2. The rest of the international community, and EU in particular, to join the 127 countries that have recognized Macedonia, including 4/5 UN Security Council members, and to finally put an end to the irrational name dispute and immediately recognize Macedonia under its constitutional name.

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Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information, please visit http://www.mhrmi.org, or contact MHRMI at 416-850-7125, or info@mhrmi.org.

Established in 1984 the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non governmental organisation that informs and advocates to governments, international institutions and broader communities about combating discrimination and promoting basic human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit http://www.macedonianhr.org.au, or contact AMHRC at macedonian_rights@hotmail.com or via +61 3 93298960.

AMHRC/MHRMI STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO MISINFORMATION REGARDING THE SO-CALLED “DECISION” TO RETURN GREEK CITIZENSHIP TO MACEDONIANS FROM GREECE May 9, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Human rights, Human rights abuses, Macedonia, Yunanistan.
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Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada (30/4/2010) – The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) are issuing this statement in order to answer some questions that have arisen as a result of what appears to be a misinformation campaign orchestrated by Greek sources. It has been alleged that the Greek government has made a decision to return citizenship to Macedonian exiles who originate from Greece.

These false reports stemmed from an exchange of letters between the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Thomas Hammarberg and Greece’s Deputy Minister of Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance, Ms Theodora Tzakri.
Following his 2009 visit to Greece, Mr Hammarberg wrote to Greek authorities asking:

“Moreover, I would welcome further information on the restoration of Greek nationality for those persons who lost it on the basis of former Article 19 of the Greek Nationality Code. As mentioned in our meeting, these include stateless persons living in Greece and abroad. I would be grateful for any updated information you could provide on the number of former Greek citizens presently living as stateless persons in Greece and abroad, the extent to which they have been able to have their citizenship restored and any measures envisaged to facilitate the process of restoration of their Greek nationality.”

In a response dated 13 April 2010, Ms Tzakri replied to Mr Hammarberg and wrote:

“Finally, in regards to Article 19 of the Greek Nationality Code it has ceased to exist. Based upon the new legislation of the Greek Nationality Code persons who lost their citizenship are entitled to reapply in order to restore their Greek citizenship. Currently the Greek Government is in the process of evaluating a number of applicants who based on former Article 19 lost their Greek Nationality. Therefore to this extent the Greek Government has also been working to the direction of facilitating the process of persons wishing to reapply for citizenship based on the former Article 19.”

A scanned copy of the letter sent by Ms Tzakri to Mr Hammarberg can be found here:
https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1610 … ged=FFC679

In relation to the above mentioned letter, it needs to be emphasised that Macedonians did not lose their citizenship on the basis of the former Article 19. The majority of victims of this former Article were ethnic Turks from Western Thrace. In any case, Tzakri’s letter to the Human Rights Commissioner made a general point about facilitation and has no commitment by the Greek government to actually restore citizenship. The letter also fails to mention that the new Greek citizenship law has a “public security” clause, which could further complicate matters for this category of people. Finally, the new law specifies that refugees may have an application for citizenship considered if they lawfully reside in Greece and of course Macedonian exiles (especially those who are prevented from returning to their place of birth because of Greece’s discriminatory 1982 laws which only permit the return of individuals that are ethnic Greeks) do not fulfill this requirement.

The AMHRC and MHRMI believe that the spreading of the misinformation is a deliberate attempt to dissuade Macedonians from taking action to restore their citizenship and property rights by giving them a false hope that the matter will soon be resolved by the Greek state. It is regrettable that these reports were naively ‘applauded’ by certain individuals and reported by some media outlets which failed to check their accuracy.

As was announced on 23 April 2010, AMHRC/MHRMI, in cooperation with the Association of the Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia of Melbourne and Victoria, the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia (ARCAM) in Canada and Macedonian refugee associations in the Republic of Macedonia have decided to launch a campaign for legal action against the Greek state to restore citizenship and property rights to Macedonians from Greece. All these organisations appeal once more to Macedonians from Greece who lost their citizenship to join this important action.

For more information, please click the following links to
AMHRC: http://www.macedonianhr.org.au/04news/8 … suite.html
MHRMI: http://mhrmi.org/news/2010/april23_e.asp

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Established in 1984 the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non governmental organisation that informs and advocates to governments, international institutions and broader communities about combating discrimination and promoting basic human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit http://www.macedonianhr.org.au, or contact AMHRC at macedonian_rights@hotmail.com or via +61 3 93298960.

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information, please visit http://www.mhrmi.org, or contact MHRMI at 416-850-7125, or info@mhrmi.org.

A Response to Professor Stephen G Miller by the AMHRC & MHRMI June 10, 2009

Posted by Yilan in Human rights, Human rights abuses, Macedonia.
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By the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI)

Dear Sir/ Madam
We write to you in regards to the letter to President Barack Obama dated 18 May
2009 which you appear to have co-signed in your capacity as a scholar of Graeco-
Roman Antiquity. (www.macedonia-evidence.org)
The purpose of this letter was to ask Mr. Obama to reverse US recognition of the
Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name. Putting aside the absurdity of
referring to ancient history as a basis for conducting present-day foreign policy, the
letter itself epitomizes Greece’s irrational, and dangerous, stance on the Macedonian
issue.
Greece refuses to accept the existence of ethnic Macedonians and the constitutional
name of the Republic of Macedonia. Consequently, Greece persecutes its Macedonian
minority and its actions are condemned by the European Court of Human Rights, the
United Nations, and the international community as a whole.
The author of the letter, Professor Stephen Miller, has even publicly called on Greece
to annex the Republic of Macedonia.
Our organizations have taken the opportunity to not only deal with these issues, but to
also address relevant matters on ancient and modern Macedonia. Please see our
attached response.
We ask that you carefully consider our position and re-examine your endorsement of
the above mentioned letter.
Yours sincerely,
Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
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I Introduction
The letter dated 18 May 2009 by Stephen G Miller to President Barack Obama and its
endorsement by other academics purports to be an objective presentation of facts
designed to protect the “historical truth” about Alexander the Great and the Ancient
Macedonians from “misappropriation by the government in Skopje”. After presenting
tendentious historical material which buttresses the central point of his argumentnamely,
that Alexander the Macedonian was Greek – he appeals to President Obama
“to help- in whatever ways you deem appropriate- the government in Skopje to
understand that it cannot build a national identity at the expenses of historical truth”.
In reality, however Professor Miller’s letter is nothing more than a blatant political
intervention in support of Greece’s irrational campaign to coerce the Republic of
Macedonia to change its name and to thereby deny the existence of the Macedonian
people, identity, language and culture, not only in the Republic of Macedonia, but in
Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia as well. He has enlisted the support of other
academics in an attempt to lend a semblance of legitimacy to his nefarious political
goals.
Professor Miller’s letter does not directly deal with the issue of the emergence of
modern national identities, however what logically flows from the way in which he
sets out his argument is that as Alexander the Macedonian was a Greek and Ancient
Macedonia an Ancient Greek land, the modern Greeks are the direct descendants of
the Ancient Macedonians and the name Macedonia can only belong to Greece and
Greeks. As he tendentiously states: “this brings us back to the geographic area known
in antiquity as Paionia. Why would the people who live there now call themselves
Macedonians and their land Macedonia? Why would they abduct a completely Greek
figure and make him their national hero?”
Professor Miller should be aware that modern national and ethnic identities in the
Balkans and indeed, throughout Europe, are relatively recent phenomena which
emerged in the wake of the French Revolution as a result of interwoven complex
political, economic and cultural processes. No nation in Europe can claim that it is
directly descended from the ancient peoples who inhabited the lands on which it has
formed its nation state and to assert that this is so, in an attempt to strengthen one’s
claim to a name or identity, is nothing less than a nationalistic flight of fantasy.
Consequently, European ethnic groups are an amalgam of peoples and their modern
ethno-cultural identities realistically have little in common with ancient peoples.
Nevertheless, this does not preclude modern ethnic group from investigating and
studying the links between them and all the other peoples who have historically
inhabited their lands, as modern Italians do with the Romans and Egyptians with the
Ancient Egyptians. Professor Miller however, asserts that it is only modern Greeks
who have the right to appropriate the legacy of Alexander the Macedonian by using
specious arguments such as: “The ancient Paionians may or may not have been
Greek, but they certainly became Greekish, and they were never Slavs. They were
also not Macedonians. Ancient Paionia was a part of the Macedonian Empire. So
were Ionia and Syria and Palestine and Egypt and Mesopotamia and Babylonia and
Bactria and many more. They may thus have become “Macedonian” temporarily, but
none was ever “Macedonia”. The theft of Philip and Alexander by a land that was
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never Macedonia cannot be justified.” In making such a statement Professor Miller
not only displays his superficial understanding of the construction of modern national
identities, but also directly supports the irrational claim that Greece has a monopoly
on the classical past. In actuality all modern peoples of European origin have a right
to share in the legacies of the ancient past.
Given that the thesis presented by Professor Miller – namely, that the Ancient
Macedonians were Greek and by extension that only modern day Greece and Greeks
(as if they are the same thing as ancient Hellenes) have the historical and cultural right
to the legacy and name of Macedonia- is a central plank of Greece’s attempt to justify
its campaign to force the Republic of Macedonia to change its name and to deny the
existence of the Macedonian ethnic group-, we should briefly examine the claim that
the “Ancient Macedonians were Greek.”
II Ancient Discussions
Both Phillip II and Alexander the Macedonian used the ancient Greek language for
diplomatic, trade and administrative purposes. It seems to have been an act of political
expediency. The use of the Greek language for these purposes cannot be used to
support the claim that ethno-culturally the ancient Macedonians were Greek, any
more than the official use of English, French and Portuguese in many countries in
Africa can be used to claim that the inhabitants of these countries are thereby of
English, French and Portuguese origin. Professor of Ancient History, Eugene Borza,
enlisting the support of another Professor of Ancient History, Nicholas Hammond,
states: “But, as Hammond shows, the significance of the Greek-Macedonian cultural
conjunction was that the Macedonians adapted and exploited philhellenism for
purposes that were uniquely Macedonian. Indeed, one could add that the adoption of
Greek adornments over the long run changed nothing fundamental in Macedonian
society, so that many Macedonian elite may have talked like Greeks, dressed like
Greeks, and imitated, imported, and admired Greek art, but they lived and acted like
Macedonians, a people whose political and social system was alien to what most
Greeks believed, wrote about, and practiced.” (Eugene N. Borza; In the Shadow of
Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon, 1990, Princeton University Press, p.172.)
While the territory of the core of the Ancient Macedonian kingdom waxed and waned,
historical analyses show towns such as Skopje, Ohrid and Bitola within the present
borders of the Republic of Macedonia, to have been part of Macedonia since the time
of Alexander the Macedonian. (Borza, 1990:30-31.) The territory that is now northern
Greece formed an important part of Macedonia in Antiquity. However, the greater
part of this area did not form part of the first Macedonian kingdom, but was gradually
incorporated into that kingdom as Macedonia’s power and prestige grew. If we were
to take literally Professor’s Miller’s contention that the Republic of Macedonia was
called Paionia in antiquity and did not form part of the core Macedonian territory and
thus cannot be called Macedonia today, then it follows that most of the northern
Greek region which the Greek authorities claim as the “true Macedonia” can also not
be called Macedonia as it did not form part of the first Macedonian kingdom. By
applying such “logic” many modern nations would have to thereby relinquish their
current names or reduce the size of their territory – as this would not be found to be
congruent with the small areas on which pre-modern kings established their
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embryonic kingdoms and fiefdoms. Presumably and absurdly, Kosovo should not use
that name as it was Dardania in Antiquity.
There is evidence to suggest, that in Antiquity, the Macedonians and Hellenes (we use
the term Hellenes, in a general sense, for the sake of convenience, it is well known
that there was not in ancient times a unified Hellenic “nation”, in the modern sense,
rather, there were numerous city states that were culturally, politically and
economically, quite diverse and moreover, they were often in conflict with each other)
considered themselves to be separate and distinct people.
We shall begin by noting that there are some important examples of Hellenic
speaking ancient Athenians explicitly classifying the Macedonians as foreigners, by
applying the word “barbaroi”, to them. (Borza, 1990:96) One, for example need only
look at the well-known quote by the great Athenian orator and statesman
Demosthenes (384-322 BC) to determine that the Greeks and the Macedonians
viewed each other as separate peoples: “Truly Phillip calls himself a Hellenophile ,
that is a friend of Greece … . That is more than a lie. The king cannot be a
Hellenophile because of his barbarian origin . He is not a Hellene and is not in any
way connected by kin with the Hellenes. He is not even a foreigner with a decent
origin. He is only a miserable Macedon: and in Macedonia , as is well known, one
cannot even buy a decent slave”(Demosthenes Crationes, from a History of
Diplomacy , Vol 5, Diodor Sikelioi, Biblioteka Historica, p49)
That this was no mere political rhetoric directed at a political opponent who was a
fellow “Hellene“ is shown by the Austrian-American historian Ernst Badian who
speaks of another occasion when Demosthenes called Philip a barbarian: “Above all,
however, this helps to explain how, half a generation after Philip’s revival of the
Macedonian king’s claim to eminent Greek descent had been accepted at Olympia and
his efforts to integrate his court had been bearing fruit, Greek opponents could still
call not only the Macedonian people, but the king himself, “barbarian.” In this
respect, nothing had changed since the days of Archelaus. The term is in fact more
than once used of Philip by Demosthenes, most notably in two passages. In one, in the
Third Olynthiac (3.24), he claims that a century ago “the king then in power in the
country was the subject [of our ancestors], as a barbarian ought to be to Greeks.” In
the second, a long tirade in the Third Philippic (9.30 f.), he claims that suffering
inflicted on Greeks by Greeks is at least easier to bear than that now inflicted by
Philip, “who is not only not a Greek and has nothing to do with Greeks, but is not
even a barbarian from a place it would be honorable to name–a cursed Macedonian,
who comes from where it used to be impossible even to buy a decent slave.” This, of
course, is simple abuse. It may have nothing to do with historical fact, any more than
the orators’ tirades against their personal enemies usually have. But as I have tried to
make clear, we are not concerned with historical fact as such; we are concerned only
with sentiment, which is itself historical fact and must be taken seriously as such. In
these tirades we find not only the Hellenic descent of the Macedonian people (which
few seriously accepted) totally denied, but even that of the king. It is not even
mentioned merely in order to be rejected: the rejection is taken as a matter of course.
Now, the orator clearly could not do this, if his audience was likely to regard his
claim as plain nonsense: it could not be said of a Theban, or even of a Thessalian.
The polite acceptance of the Macedonian kings as Hellenes ruling a barbarian nation
was still not totally secure: one would presumably divide over it on irrational
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grounds, according to party and personal sentiment–as so many of us still divide,
over issues that are inherently more amenable to rational treatment.(68)” (Ernst
Badian, “Greeks and Macedonians” in Macedonia And Greece In Late Classical And
Early Hellenistic Times, Studies In The History Of Art Vol 10: (The National Gallery
Of Art, Washington, 1980)).
The Classics professor, Peter Green, has written many books and articles about the
Ancient Greeks and Macedonians in which he provides valuable information about
how the Greeks and Macedonians saw themselves. For example on Page 50 of his
book Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C, Professor Green states as follows:
“And though Philip did not give a fig for Panhellenism as an idea, he at once
saw how it could be turned into highly effective camouflage (a notion which his
son subsequently took over ready-made). Isocrates had, unwittingly, supplied
him with the propaganda-line he needed. From now on he merely had to clothe
his Macedonian ambitions in a suitable Panhellenic dress.” (Peter Green,
Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C: A Historical Biography, University of
California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1991).
On page 7 of the book Alexander to Actium he states: “But then, Eumenes was a
Greek, and Macedonian troops, especially the old sweats who had served under
Philip II, were never really comfortable being led by non-Macedonians.” (Alexander
to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age, University of California
Press, 19 October 1993)
We may summarise by again quoting from Eugene Borza, Professor of Ancient
History at Pennsylvania State University: “No single argument is conclusive, but the
case builds in quality as it grows in quantity of evidence, and, in the end, is
persuasive. Despite the efforts of Phillip II and Alexander the Great to bridge the gap
between the two cultures, Greeks and Macedonians remained steadfastly antipathetic
toward one another (with dislike of a different quality than the mutual long term
hostility shared by some Greek city-states) until well into the Hellenistic period, when
both the culmination of Hellenic acculturation in the north and the rise of Rome made
it clear that what these peoples shared took precedence over their historical
enmities.” (Borza,1990:96)
Borza moves on to ask: “Who were the Macedonians? As an ethnic question it is best
avoided, since the mainly modern political overtones tend to obscure the fact that it
really is not a very important issue. That they may or may not have been Greek in
whole or part-while an interesting anthropological sidelight-is really not crucial to
our understanding of their history. They made their mark not as a tribe of Greeks or
other Balkan peoples, but as Macedonians. This was understood by foreign
protagonists from the time of Darius and Xerxes to the age of Roman
generals.”(Borza,1990:96)
So we can conclude that Miller is on very slippery ground, at best, when claiming that
Ancient Macedonians and Hellenes were absolutely one and the same thing and that
such an assertion is simply an incontestable fact. Clearly, it is still a matter for debate,
to say the least. Worse still though, is the ridiculous attempt to claim that modern day
Greeks have a right to own the word, “Macedonia”. This is simply because of all the
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change that has occurred in the Balkans over the last 2,500 years! The region has been
invaded and re-invaded and conquered numerous times – by the Romans, various
Germanic and Tatar tribes and most notably, by Slavic tribes. Therefore it is absurd
for anyone to try to claim some kind of continuous unbroken blood or cultural link.
The Slavs that invaded and settled the Balkans in the 5th Century AD did not just stop,
as is often claimed by Greek propagandists, at “southern Yugoslavia”. They settled
the whole of the Balkans, including almost the entirety of what is today Greece, in
what is reputed to have been one of the largest mass migrations in early medieval
history. (Fine, 1991:30-36, 60-64; it is also worth noting that over the last decade,
new discussions in the academic world have begun about the nature of the early Slavs
and their appearance in the Balkans in the 6th century AD – see the work of the
Historian, Professor Florin Curta, The Making of the Slavs, Cambridge University
Press, 2001.) We shall here quote from Professor John Fine of the University of
Michigan: “It is evident that in this period a great deal of ethnic mixture between
Slavs and Greeks occurred; probably few pure-blooded Greeks – if such existed prior
to the Slavic invasions- were left. A few centuries later many Albanians migrated into
these regions and further increased the ethnic mixtures. Thus there is no reason to
believe that the Greeks now are any purer blooded than any other Balkan peoples.
But, of course, it is culture rather than blood-lines that matters.” (John V.A. Fine;
The Early Medieval Balkans, University of Michigan Press, 1991, p.64) In any case, it
is clear that serious alterations had occurred by early medieval times, in the cultures,
economies and politics of all social groupings in the Balkans. The fact that the
Orthodox church and the modern Greek state, relatively recently, succeeded in
introducing, on a mass national level, a form of Greek language based on the ancient
Hellenic language, does not alter the fact that modern day Greeks, possess a culture,
economy and political system, that have little in common with that of the ancient city
states. However, if we followed Miller’s “logic”, we would have to go further than
pointing this out; we would have to demand that today’s Greeks renounce their claim
to Greekness and admit their Slavo-Albanian roots; or at the very least, refer to
themselves as “Slavo-Albanian Greeks”.
However, Fine is quite right to stress that culture takes precedence, and culture is a
social construction, a human invention. And what we have here been demonstrating is
that social constructions can vary over time. For this context, it is pertinent to point
out that words like “Macedonian” and “Greek”, are symbols, and the meaning of
symbols, what they represent, can vary enormously, over even short periods – let
alone 2,000 years! This variation was a normal result of the changes that took place in
the Balkans in the periods under discussion. In ancient times, the words
“Macedonian” and “Hellene,” undoubtedly referred to socio-cultural groupings that
are very different from the ones that these symbols represent today. However, this is
not a problem, for these ancient social configurations, disappeared long ago.
Modern day Macedonians and Greeks, were socially constructed during the last four
centuries – like most European nations and ethnicities. This was done in the context
of Modernity and involved, among other things, the rise of capitalist economies; the
rise of a culture dominated by a dialectic possessing, a pursuit of rational mastery on
one hand, and romance on the other (and this is where one in particular, should look
for the ways in which modern Macedonians and Greeks revived the ancient symbols
that came to form part of the basis of their identities); and a centralised state based
more or less on mass representative democracy (unlike the democracy of Ancient
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Athens!). The social configuration thus produced, is quite unique/new; and so are the
modern European nations that inhabit and form an important part of it. (Western
academic texts discussing this process are numerous, perhaps two relatively older
ones are among the most useful for beginners, (and Miller undoubtedly is!): Ernest
Gellner’s Nations and Nationalism, Blackwell, Oxford 1983 and Benedict Anderson’s
Imagined Communities,Verso, London 1983) If the basis upon which modern day
Macedonians have come into existence is false, as Miller claims, it is no more false
than the way in which all other modern nations and ethnicities have come into
existence, including the modern Greeks. Thus, to quote the American anthropologist,
Loring Danforth, from an “anthropological perspective, the relatively recent date of
the creation of a Macedonian state and the construction of a Macedonian nation, in
comparison to other Balkan cases, does not mean, as Greek nationalists claim, that
the Macedonian nation is ‘artificial’, while the Greek nation is ‘genuine’. … Both
Macedonian national identity and Greek national identity are equally constructed.”
(Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict, Princeton University Press, 1995,
p.108; and for more on the construction of the Modern Greek nation during the 19th
century, see the work of the Historian, John Breuilly, Nationalism and the State, The
University of Chicago Press, 1994, especially pp.137-148.) Social constructing and
reconstructing; defining and re-defining; valuing and re-valuing, appear to be an
ontological aspect of the human condition – they create culture; existential meaning,
and Professor Miller serves nobody well when trying to claim that the cultural
creativity of one group, is superior to that of other groups.
Modern day Macedonians and Greeks, both have a right to share these ancient
symbols, that is the names “Macedonian” and “Greek”, that emerged from the lands
they presently occupy and neither has the right to forbid the other from using them.
Ethnic identity is of basic existential significance in the modern world and that is one
of the reasons why it is a human right and protected by international law. Notably,
even though Greece only began to officially refer to its northern province as
“Macedonia” (from 1955 till the mid 80’s the official name of the region in Greece
was “Northern Greece”, administered by the “Ministry of Northern Greece”, Law
3200, 23 April 1955) as a result of laws and directives passed in 1986 (Law 1622 of
1986) and 1988 (Prime Ministerial decision no.704, 19 August 1988); the Republic of
Macedonia (which has been using the name since it was formed in 1944) has not
made any request for Greece to drop its usage. Such sharing does not create confusion
as the different meanings (provincial/regional as opposed to ethnic or national) are
very clear and easily explainable. Such sharing is well within the bounds of reason,
though it is curious that Miller should claim for modern Greece, ownership of a word
that Greece itself was long reluctant to officially utilise.
Professor Miller’s distress at the “misappropriation by the government in Skopje of
the most famous of Macedonians, Alexander the Great” and his contention that
Alexander has become Slavic is not borne out by an objective review of the facts. The
current government in the Republic of Macedonia does not claim that Alexander was
Slavic, but Macedonian. Prime Minister Gruevski has recently stated that he neither
knows nor cares whether he or the Macedonians are descendants of “Slavs” or the
Ancient Macedonians, but that he considers he and his people to be Macedonians with
a right to their own language, culture and identity like all other peoples. It should be
pointed out that while we may consider it inappropriate and the height of kitsch to
erect statues in the main square of Skopje at a time of severe economic crisis, the
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decision of the Macedonian government to do so was taken well before the onset of
the current global financial crisis. And lest Professor Miller go into paroxysms of rage
over the “misappropriation of Alexander by the Slav Paionians”, he should be
reminded that of the statues to be erected, only one is of Alexander. Three are of
Macedonian revolutionaries from the turn of the 20th century, one is of Tsar Samoil
and a further one, is of Cento, the Republic of Macedonia’s first post-war President.
III Modern Denial
On 27 March 1994 the Sunday Telegraph of London commented as follows on the
Greek myth of ethnic purity: “What is the word for the obsessive Greek pseudorelationship
with their country’s past (they even have a magazine, Ellenismos,
devoted to the subject)? It is not quite pretentiousness. There is too much passion for
that. No, the Greeks, the ancient ones had a word for the modern Greek condition:
paranoia. We must accept that Mr Andreas Papandreou (Greek prime Minister) and
the current EC presidency are the sole legitimate heirs of Pericles, Demosthenes and
Arisitide the Just. The world must nod dumbly at the proposition that in the veins of
the modern Greek … there courses the blood of Achilles. And their paranoid
nationalism is heightened by the tenuousness of that claim”.
The reality which Professor Miller seeks to avoid by focussing on the
“misappropriation of Alexander” is Greece’s concerted attempts to deny the existence
of the ethnic Macedonians (that is, Macedonians with an ethno-cultural identity, that
is not Greek) in the part of Macedonia within Greece. This has been well documented
by a number of independent human rights organisations and western anthropologists
(see further down). The existence of Macedonians in their ancestral homelands
destroys the myth of unbroken continuity between the supposedly “quintessentially
Greek” Ancient Macedonians and the Modern Greeks and thus undermines the basis
on which the Greek state attempts to justify its annexation of Aegean Macedonia in
1913; namely, that Macedonia was historically a Greek land since Antiquity which
“naturally” belonged with the borders of the then Kingdom of Greece.
The existence of ethnic Macedonians and other minorities such as the Turks, Roma,
Pomaks and Vlachs in Greece also challenges the myth of ethnic homogeneity which
the Greek state considers essential. Denial of minority rights is thus a natural corollary
of Greek State’s doctrine of national security. Finally, recognition of a Macedonian
minority in Greece exposes Greece to the real possibility that those Macedonians who
have been driven out of Greece and deprived of their citizenship, properties
(especially in the aftermath of the Greek Civil War, 1946-1949) and even the right to
temporarily enter Greece for family or personal reasons, will be encouraged to seek
restitution of their rights, thus leading to potentially onerous compensation obligations
being placed on Greece and the return of tens of thousands of ethnic Macedonians. It
is these considerations which have led to the irrational Greek campaign to force the
Republic of Macedonia to change its name.
This problem of Modern Greek fundamentalist ethno-nationalism has been discussed
by various western academics and NGO’s. Perhaps it was most succinctly put by the
American anthropologist, Loring Danforth, when he wrote that: “The inability of
Macedonians in the Florina (Lerin, in Macedonian) area to register a cultural
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association with the word Macedonian in its name,…is an excellent example of the
way in which the activities, purposes and by-laws of private associations are subject
to detailed regulation and control by the Greek state. It also confirms the fundamental
incompatibility of the Greek nationalist conception of the ‘ethnos as an integrated
entity embodied in the state’ and a philosophy of inalienable human rights. The issue
at stake in this case, is an issue of recognition – the refusal of the Greek state to
recognise the Centre for Macedonian Culture. This case, therefore, replicates the
central issue of the entire Macedonian conflict – the refusal of the Greek state to
recognise the existence of a Macedonian nation, a Macedonian language, or a
Macedonian minority in Greece.” (Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict,
Princeton University Press, 1995, p.130)
IV Modern Ethno-Nationalism
A point often glossed over is that what had come to be generally accepted in Europe
and the Balkans as denoting Macedonia in the late 19th and early 20th century
(constructed! – on how this construction developed, see H.R. Wilkinson’s classic
study, Maps and Politics: A review of the Ethnographic Cartography of Macedonia,
Liverpool University Press, 1951; especially pp.1-7, where one finds a Greek view
from the 19th century, that has all of what is now the Republic of Macedonia,
including Skopje!; and on the general issue of map reification and its role in nation
building, see Anderson’s Imagined Communities, pp.170-178.), had been contained as
a whole within the Ottoman Muslim Empire for 500 years. It was partitioned during
the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 and thereafter became the peripheral territories of its
neighbouring Balkan States – Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia. These lands had also been
under Ottoman rule for four centuries. During the 19th Century the inhabitants of these
lands shook off Ottoman rule and created modernistic nation-states. By the end of
WWI, the partition of Macedonia had resulted in Greece obtaining 51%, Serbia 38%
(this is the part that developed in 1944, during WWII, into the Republic of
Macedonia) and Bulgaria, only around 12%. (This made it certain that Bulgaria,
which had done an equal share of fighting against the Ottomans, would become
irredentist.) Their partition of Macedonia was part and parcel of an ethno-nationalist
desire to expand. The only problem was that these states did not accept the inhabitants
as they found them and a process of often violent ethnic assimilation was begun.
From the beginning, this involved both physical and symbolic ethnic cleansing, mass
expulsions and the razing of numerous towns and villages. This was documented at
the time by an International Commission that was sent to Macedonia to investigate the
situation by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (See the reprint of this
over 400 page, report: The Other Balkan Wars, Carnegie Endowment, Washington
DC 1993 (originally published in 1914). On Serbian and Greek atrocities and methods
see especially, pp.50-51, 89, 106 and 154; on the Bulgarians, noteworthy is p.106.)
This Greek policy continued throughout the inter-war years at varying levels of
intensity. The 1920s was a period marked by coerced out-migration, internal exile
and deportation, as explained by the Greek Anthropologist, Anastasia Karakasidou
(see pp.66-68 of her paper, Transforming Identity, Constructing Consciousness:
Coercion and Homogeny in North-western Greece, pp.55-97 in Victor Roudometof,
ed. The Macedonian Question, East European Monographs, Boulder, 2000). In
particular, coerced out-migration was given further impetus by the signing of the
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Treaty of Neuilly in 1919 between Greece and Bulgaria. This was supposed to involve
a “voluntary exchange of populations” – actually, tens of thousands (if one considers
the period from 1912-1928, then the figure reaches well over 100,000) of
Macedonians were systematically driven out of the Greek state. This was stepped up
still further after the settlement in Greek held Macedonia between 1923 and 1928, of
around 538,000 Greek Orthodox refugees from Asia Minor (many of whom were
Turkophone; are these your real Macedonians, with a direct connection to the Ancient
Macedonians, Professor Miller??). (Karakasidou, 2000:68.) “There were “numerous
directives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Governor General of Salonika
to local authorities making it abundantly clear that the ‘national interest’ necessitated
the emigration of as many Slav-speakers [which is how the Greek authorities often
referred to Macedonians, regardless of how they themselves chose to identify – the
authors] as possible … who should be compelled to move to Bulgaria through ‘skilful
and specialised work’.” (Carabott, 2003:148-149. For more detail on just how this
process of expelling Macedonians was carried out, see the rest of this paper by Dr.
Philip Carabott of the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, King’s
College London: The Politics of Constructing the Ethnic Other, published in JGKS
academic journal – History and Culture of South Eastern Europe, vol.5, 2003, pp.141-
159.) This today, is what is known as, ethnic cleansing. As a result, by 1930, the
demography of Aegean Macedonia had been transformed. Ethnic Macedonians had
definitely become a minority. For those remaining, the Greek state continued to use
repression and surveillance with the aid of both the military and the police.
(Karakasidou, 2000:75.)
V Recognition and Denial
The authors of this paper, incidentally, are not claiming that all these local
Macedonians, identified themselves as possessing a distinct Macedonian identity. Just
how many of them did, is difficult to determine, because the Greek state barred the
possibility of people identifying as such in the censuses. (It has continued to do so to
this very day – unlike in the Republic of Macedonia, where all ethnic minorities are
registered and counted.) Inter-war censuses in Greece, did permit citizens to register
their native tongue, but as the Greek journalist and author, Tasos Kostopoulos has
pointed out, the real results were never revealed. (See his paper – Counting the
“Other”: Official Census and Classified Statistics in Greece 1830-2001 in the JGKS
academic journal, vol.5, 2003, pp.55-78 and especially pp.58-59.) For example, as
Kostopoulos also explains, the census data from Aegean Macedonia in 1920, was not
published. The official reason given by the Greek state, Kostopoulos continues, was
“… for a lack of funds; the decision was made at the highest possible level, by the
Cabinet itself. The real reasons, as revealed by the official correspondence between
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Directorate of Macedonia, were that
the authorities ‘did not dare to avow and reveal publicly the existence of a non-Greek
Majority in [Greek]Macedonia.” (Kostopoulos, 2003:59.) Notably, another Greek
author, Dimtris Lithoxoou, while researching the Greek state archives, discovered that
Macedonians on seasonal work in Greece but outside of Macedonia, were registered
in the 1920 census, as speaking Macedonian. The results show Macedonian clearly
recorded as a separate language; a language in its own right; distinct from Greek or
Bulgarian etc. Thus it is rather silly for Greece and Professor Miller to today claim
that the Macedonian language does not exist; or that it can only be a variant of Greek;
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the Greek state officially recognised it as a distinct language as long ago as 1920!
(See Lithoxoou’s introductory article, pp.44-49, in Vinozhito-Rainbow’s 2007 reprint
of the ABECEDAR – which was a Macedonian language primer the Greek authorities
prepared for Macedonian School children in 1925, that was in the end, not introduced
– recognition and then denial!)
There is more evidence from other sources to suggest that those identifying as having
a distinct Macedonian identity must have been significant in number. For example, as
Carabott points out, in 1923, an officially Greek approved international Mixed
Commission, investigating the situation on the ground in Greek held Macedonia,
asking villagers in the western and central regions of Macedonia about their
conditions, in general replied: “We want good administration. We are Macedonians,
not Greeks or Bulgars. Give us a good father and we will be good children.” (Cited in
Carabott, 2003:145.) Carabott continues on to conclude that “This selfcharecterisation
as ‘Macedonians’ in juxtaposition to being neither Greeks nor
Bulgarians points at a distinct Macedonian identity …”. (Carabott, 2003:145.) Also
noteworthy in this regard, is “ethnological” research carried out in 1925 by the Greek
military officer Salvanos, Chief of Staff of the Tenth Army Division of Western
Macedonia in Greece. He found, among other things, that the bulk of the inhabitants
of the County of Lerin (Florina in Greek), refer to themselves as “Macedonians” –
“…making up half to three-quarters of any given village’s population.” (Karakasidou,
2000:64.) Now the implications of such research are yet to be fully debated, but on
the basis of all the evidence presented here and other extant documents, it cannot
doubted that there was in inter-war Greece, such a thing as a distinct (non-Greek)
Macedonian ethno-cultural identity. And while we agree that the “fluidity” (the
tendency to change over time or in particular contexts) of ethnic identity, must be
taken into account, we do not support those Greek apologists who try to use the
“fluidity” notion to write ethnic-Macedonians off the face of the earth. As the German
academic, Dr. Christian Voss, commenting on the current situation in Greece and
Bulgaria, explains: “…it is either politically naive, or in support of Greek and
Bulgarian nationalism respectively, to describe minority identity patterns by means of
a one-sided constructionism, underscoring the ‘fluidness’ of Macedonian ethnicity in
Greek Aegean and in Bulgarian Pirin Macedonia.” (See p.186 of his paper: The
Situation of the Slavic Speaking Minority in Greek Macedonia, JGKS, vol.5, 2003,
pp.173-187.)
Indeed, those authors who try to ‘protect’ Macedonians from elite essentialist
reification, in both recent history and the present (there can be no question that part of
the story of ethnicity construction, is about elites mobilising masses for the
maintenance and expansion of their power and wealth), forget that the development
and maintenance of a distinct ethnic-Macedonian identity, was to a significant extent,
a response to the discriminatory reifications of the Greek state (and the Serbian and
Bulgarian states, for that matter, both after and prior to the 1912 partition). As we
have been documenting, these discriminatory reifications have resulted in serious
emotional and physical harm and in Greece (and Bulgaria for that matter) at the
present, they are still maintained, as we document further below. They are an
important part of the historical memory of modern ethnic-Macedonians. Thus ethnic-
Macedonian identity, especially in Greece, while also involving essentialist reifying,
as all such group identities do, can to an important level, be seen as a counter
reification to the often cruel and lethal homogenising efforts of the Greek state.
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Macedonians were essentialised and reified in the homogenising process, as
undesirable others – mostly by the label, “Slavophones” (see for example, Carabott,
2003:142-144). A distinct Macedonian identity, from this perspective and in the
context of Greece (a country that denies the existence of any minorities within its
borders), can be viewed as something that does not negate, but contributes to diversity
and if you like, democracy. (On the development of modern Macedonian identity, see
the papers by Professor Victor Friedman of the University of Chicago: Macedonian
Language and Nationalism During the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century in
Balkanstica, 1975, no.2, pp.83-95 and The Modern Macedonian Standard Language
and Its Relation to Modern Macedonian Identity in Victor Roudometof, ed., The
Macedonian Question, East European Monographs, Boulder, 2000, pp.173-206;
Danforth’s, The Macedonian Conflict, cited above; and a paper by Professor Horace
Lunt of Harvard University, Some Sociolinguistic Aspects of Macedonian and
Bulgarian in B. Stolz et al, ed. Language and Literary Theory, Ann Arbor, The
University of Michigan, 1984, pp.83-122. For a focus on identity development in the
Republic of Macedonia see the work of the Anthropologist Keith Brown, The Past in
Question, Princeton University Press, 2003 and a paper by H.R.Wilkinson, Jugoslav
Macedonia in Transition, Geographical Journal, vol.CXVIII part 4, December 1952,
pp.389-405.)
The mention of diversity connects to the issue of group identity in Modernity in a way
that moves somewhat beyond the bounds of matters to do with elite reifications. To
begin with, group identity, as was noted by social philosophers long ago, is
paradoxically based on both the attractions of similarity and difference. This complex
dialectic creates culture; existential meaning, for the inhabitants of the groups (and we
are all, more or less, involved in groups). Thus it is not diversity for its ‘own sake’ as
some critics of the notion, like to suggest. The revival of ancient names, in the
construction of Modern ethnic groups can be seen as part of the Romanticism (which
has always been a significant aspect of Modern culture) that has often been called
upon as an enchanting (see the work of Max Weber) response to the mundane or
disenchanting, for many, calculative rationalism of Modernity. The pursuit of rational
mastery of the world, which is another key aspect of Modern culture, creates constant
instability and change (popular among social philosophers is the notion of Modernity
as accelerated “creative-destruction”); alienation and anonymity; and the use of
ancient names in the creation of group identities helps many moderns create the
feeling (it may be an illusion, but that does not appear to make it any less useful or
less necessary) of some stability, magical continuity and connection to a wider
humanity. This does not necessarily need to involve excessive exploitation and
discrimination; it can and often is, celebrated in very amicable and positive ways.
Though in places where it has become abusive, we are obliged to resist. (For more on
this perspective of reification, see the classic work of the social philosopher Georg
Simmel, in a 1990 Routledge re-print of his foundational for Sociology, The
Philosophy of Money, 1900.)
VI Repression and Persecution Continues in the Inter-War Years
Between the years of 1926-1940, the Greek state implemented and ruthlessly enforced
a form of symbolic ethno-cultural cleansing. All place (Decree no.332 of 1926) and
personal names (Law no.87 of 1936) in Aegean Macedonia were made Greek. Protest
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was useless and would merely result in further punishment. (The ban on Macedonian
names has persisted to the present.) This was accompanied by the defacing and
“Hellenising” of churches in Macedonia. The Greek language was imposed in all
areas of public life and the Macedonian language was derided as barbaric and not
worthy of a civilised people. (See the report entitled, Denying Ethnic Identity: The
Macedonians of Greece; prepared by the well known human rights NGO, Human
Rights Watch/Helsinki, New York and London, 1994, pp.6-7; and see also another
paper by the Greek Anthropologist, Karakasidou: Women of the Family, Women of
the Nation, p.100 in Ourselves and Others, Mackridge and Yannakis, ed. Berg,
Oxford 1997.)
During the ultra-nationalist dictatorship (1936-1940) of General Metaxas in Greece,
the mistreatment of Macedonians was further stepped up. Laws were enacted that then
not only banned the speaking of Macedonian in public, but also in private.
(Karakasidou, 2000: 77.) The punishments for breaking these highly bigoted and cruel
laws (most Macedonians did not know how to speak Greek) involved steep fines,
beatings, the forced ingestion of castor oil and or imprisonment. In many cases, to pay
the fines, farmers had to sell their means of livelihood – i.e. their livestock.
(Karakasidou, 2000:77 and Human Rights Watch, 1994:7-8.) More than 5,000
Macedonians from the County of Lerin (Florina) alone were jailed for breaking these
language laws. (Human Rights Watch, 1994:7.)
VII World War Two and the Greek Civil War 1946-1949
During this period, many local and ethnic Macedonians eventually joined the Greek
communist (KKE) led National Liberation Front (EAM) and its military wing, the
National Popular Liberation Army (ELAS). (Human Rights Watch, 1994:8 and
Karakasidou, 2000:77-78.) It is not surprising that they did so – after all they had
endured at the hands of the Greek state since 1912, many of them probably felt that
serious change was necessary. Moreover, as Karakasidou points out, during the Axis
occupation, many of them suffered harshly at the hands of Greek nationalist forces.
(Karakasidou, 2000:78.)
When the Greek Civil War began in 1946 (fought between the Communist forces of
the KKE and the British-installed, Western-styled Greek government forces), the
hardships of Macedonians increased, as almost all the fighting took place in Aegean
Macedonia. Estimates of how many were killed are dubious, though they certainly ran
in to the tens of thousands. By the war’s end in 1949 and with victory gained by the
government forces, tens of thousands of local Macedonians (and of course Greeks
too) had fled the country for their safety – whether they were part of the Communist
forces or not. Estimates are again unreliable; they range from 35,000 to over 200,000.
(Human Rights Watch, 1994:8 and for a more detailed analysis, see the paper by Dr.
Riki van Boeschoten: “Unity and Brotherhood”? Macedonian Political Refugees in
Eastern Europe, in JGKS, vol.5 2003, pp.189-193.)
Notably, those who fled Greece for their safety (not least because of the incessant
aerial bombing of Macedonian villages), again, whether they actually fought against
the government or not, were deprived of their citizenship and property. (Human
Rights Watch, 1994:8 and 27.) To quote the Human Rights Watch report: “Among
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those stripped of their citizenship were families – wives, children, other relatives – of
Macedonians who had fought with the Partisans. No individual hearings were held as
to the actions of family members or, in fact of Partisans themselves. All were stripped
of citizenship without the internationally accepted rights to due process: the
presumption of innocence; notice of the charges; a fair hearing before an independent
and impartial tribunal; opportunity to defend oneself, including the right to confront
witnesses and to present witnesses on one’s own behalf and legal representation.”
(Human Rights Watch, 1994:27.)
Also noteworthy is that over 10,000 Macedonian children (there were Greek children
too; and although some estimates of the Macedonian children are much higher, this
figure is a safe minimum, see van Boeschoten, 2003:190-193) were during the course
of the civil war, smuggled across the Greek borders and housed in Eastern-bloc
countries – again, this was done because of the bombing of villages. In most cases,
they have not been permitted to return. However, in a 1982 twist, a Greek Ministerial
decree provided that “all Greeks by genus [i.e. of Greek origin] who during the civil
war of 1946-49 and because of it have fled abroad as political refugees may return to
Greece, in spite [of the fact] that Greek citizenship has been taken away from them.”
(Human Rights Watch, 1994: 9.) Moreover, in 1985, a law was enacted that permitted
political refugees who were “Greek by origin” to reclaim their property and thus
again, ethnic Macedonians were and remain, excluded. (Human Rights Watch, 1994:
9.) “Human Rights Watch has been unable to obtain accurate figures on the number
of people ‘of Greek origin’ who availed themselves of the 1982 law, but the number is
in the thousands. Those who considered themselves Macedonians, although born in
Greece, or children of parents born in Greece, were not permitted to return, even, for
the most part, to visit. … To this day, ethnic Macedonian families are divided…” by
the Greek authorities. (Human Rights Watch, 1994: 9-10.) At present a class action
against Greece is being prepared in the Republic of Macedonia by Macedonian
political refugees from Greece and their descendants for the return of their properties
and restoration of Greek citizenship.
VIII The Post War Period
For those ethnic-Macedonians who managed to remain in Aegean Macedonia after the
war, discrimination continued. Indicative of the situation, is the example given by
Human Rights Watch of the introduction of “language oaths”. The Greek authorities,
in 1959, administered in several Macedonian villages, “language oaths” – “which
required Macedonians to swear that they would renounce their ‘Slavic’ dialect and
from then on speak only Greek.” (Human Rights Watch, 1994: 7-8.) During the
1960s, free education was introduced in Greece but the discrimination faced by
Macedonians “…in their quest for employment…left many sharply alienated.”
(Karakasidou, 2000:80.)
From 1967-1974, Greece came under the dictatorship of an ultra-nationalist military
junta and this explains another upsurge in discrimination against Macedonians.
(Karakasidou, 2000: 81.) This was combined with a continued policy of economic
underdevelopment for areas inhabited by ethnic-Macedonians (Karakasidou, 2000:82)
– with the hope no doubt, of speeding up their emigration. Lastly, during this period,
the church “re-emerged as a strong nationalist force, and a new puritan Bishop,
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Kandiotis, was appointed Metropolitan of Florina and began to cultivate Greek
Orthodox fundamentalism.” (Karakasidou, 2000: 81.) After the junta some
improvement in the treatment of Macedonians resulted, but in general, the
discrimination has remained. We shall document this further below.
Since 1995, when it was formed (after having to utilise the European courts in order
to get itself officially registered in Greece), the Macedonian political party,
Vinozhito- Rainbow, which has its seat in Lerin (Florina), has been active in leading
the struggle of the Macedonians in Greece for respect of their basic human rights by
the Greek State. Its leaders have been prosecuted and on 7 September 1995 their
offices burnt and ransacked by far-right Greek nationalists. Presently, some of its
leaders face the possibility of prosecution on charges of state treason for maintaining
that Macedonian is spoken in Greece.Another important activist is Archimandrite
Nikodim Tsarknias, who has been active in defending the religious and human rights
of the Macedonians. Tsarknias who is an ordained priest of the Macedonian Orthodox
Church has repeatedly over the years been prosecuted on charges of “impersonating
an Orthodox priest”.
IX In Summary
Greece denies its Macedonian minority the enjoyment of those fundamental human
rights contained in major international and European human rights agreements and
covenants. The Greek state refuses even to recognise the very existence of ethnic
Macedonians and instead refers to them as “Slavophone Greeks”. Ethnic
Macedonians are forbidden from using the term Macedonia in the name of
organizations, associations or businesses that they may care to register. For example,
as already mentioned earlier, the Home of Macedonian Culture in Lerin (Florina),
which the European Court of Human Rights has ordered Greece to register in several
decisions over the last 10 years, still remains unregistered by the Greek authorities.
There is no education at any level in the Macedonian language and no radio and
television programs or print media in Macedonian. There is no state funding for
Macedonian cultural activities. Ethnic Macedonians who openly proclaim themselves
to be Macedonians are subjected to discrimination in employment and education as
well as social ostracism. Macedonians are not permitted to use their Macedonian fore
and surnames officially and those Macedonians who attempt to officially reclaim their
Macedonian names are routinely denied permission to do so. The Greek authorities
maintain a black list of Macedonians abroad-both activists and non-activists who
simply identify as Macedonians and who may originate from Aegean Macedonia-and
routinely deny such people entry to Greece. Macedonians who originate in Greece
have also been deprived of their Greek citizenship, often without being informed of
the decision or having any right to appeal, which affects their ability to claim or
dispose of property they may own in Greece. One of the goals of such repressive
measures is to prevent contact between Macedonians abroad and those in Greece so
that the forcible Hellenization of Macedonians in Greece can continue unabated.
Lastly, it is difficult to estimate the number of ethnic Macedonians in Greece, as the
Greek state still completely denies the existence of a Macedonian minority and does
not include statistics on ethnic minorities in its census, however estimates range from
50,000 to 300,000.
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X Current Human Rights Abuses in Documented Detail
Professor Miller opens his letter by claiming that the recognition of the Republic of
Macedonia by the former US administration has somehow “abrogated geographic
and historic fact”. What the Professor of Graeco-Roman antiquity seems to
fundamentally miss is that it is the state of Greece that abrogates the facts over the
existence of the ethnic Macedonian minority living in present day Greece. Whilst the
Professor of Graeco-Roman antiquity immerses himself in a purposive interpretation
of the ancients, conveniently but at the same time, he also suspiciously draws absurd
connections between peoples that lived some 2,500 years ago and modern national
identities. What he seems to be incapable of recognizing is that his slavish
acquiescence to ancient history at the same time dispenses with the apparent
awkwardness (for Greece, but obviously also for Professor Miller) of exigent
circumstances. Namely the continuing human rights violations perpetrated by his
beloved “Greece” against its ethnic Macedonian minority. To borrow from Levi,
Professor Miller’s blind capitulation to ancient relationships seems to fundamentally
confuse the modern day perpetrators with the victims, and to do so is a “moral disease
or an aesthetic affectation or a sinister sign of complicity; above all, it is precious
service rendered … to the negators of truth.” (Primo Levi, The Drowned and the
Saved, (first published 1988), Abacus, London, 1989, p.33.)
Greece’s appalling human rights record against its ethnic Macedonian minority is well
documented. How does Professor Miller suggest Graeco-Roman antiquity can
overcome these actual modern day problems? Does he suggest that the ancient
practice of conquest and pillage is the answer? (Actually he does, as we demonstrate
further down!) Is Professor Miller opposed to human rights? Or is he simply opposed
to the human rights of ethnic Macedonians? Let’s look at what actual demonstrable
evidence tells us.
The essence of the protection of minorities has been well defined since the Permanent
Court of International Justice delivered its Advisory Opinion on Minority Schools in
Albania Case, handed down on 6 April 1935. The Court stated that minorities have
the right to full equality with the majority and to the preservation of their separate
identities. The Opinion reads as follows:
“The idea underlying the treaties for the protection of minorities is to secure for
certain elements incorporated in a State, the population of which differs from
them in race, language or religion, the possibility of living peaceably alongside
that population and co-operating amicably with it, while at the same time
preserving the characteristics which distinguish them from the majority.”
Subsequently, the International Court of Justice made it clear in the South West Africa
Cases that any distinction on a racial basis is contrary to the principle of equality.
(South West Africa Cases (Ethiopia v South Africa, Liberia v South Africa) (Second
Phase) ICJ Rep 1966 6, Judgement of 18 July 1966, 317). Today, various
international human rights law documents exist that contain specific provisions
concerned with minorities and that place obligations on states to recognise the rights
of minority groups living within their borders, importantly without distinction of any
kind. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is a
- 17 -
binding document of substantive and precise human rights principles states clearly
under Article 27 that: “in those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic
minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right …
to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their
own language”’ Article 27 is a statement that is essential to the defence of minority
identity, therefore it also reflects a ‘right to an identity’. The UN Human Rights
Committee determined that even though “the rights protected … are individual rights,
they depend in turn on the ability of the minority group to maintain its culture,
language and religion.”
Accordingly, the UN Human Rights Committee has clarified under General Comment
23 that “positive measures by the States are also necessary to protect the identity of a
minority and the rights of its members to enjoy and develop their culture … in
community with other members of the group.” Greece ratified and acceded to the
ICCPR on 5 August 1997. Article 27 has also inspired the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic
Minorities, which establishes standards to which member states of the United Nations
should aspire. At the outset, Article 1 asserts that:
“States shall protect the existence and the national or ethnic … identity of
minorities … and shall encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to Greece, there seems to be no such prospects.
Recently the UN independent expert on minority issues reported how some of the
ethnic Macedonians in Greece have:
“…described pressure not to display their Macedonian identity or speak
Macedonian, previously banned in some villages. Despite their claim of the
existence of distinct Macedonian villages, they described a general fear to
demonstrate their identity. It was acknowledged that the situation had improved
from a previous era, however they described a “softer discrimination”
manifested in general hostility and pressure on the part of authorities and the
media. One participant stated: “I am a Greek citizen…but I am Macedonian
when talking about my village, my language and my identity.” (Promotion and
Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, including the right to Development’, Report of the independent expert
on minority issues, Gay McDougall, Addendum Mission to Greece, (8-16
September 2008), A/HRC/10/11/Add.3, 18 February 2009, para. 46).
“Some recounted personal experiences of harassment including aggressive
interrogation at borders. Another described being physically attacked allegedly
due to his ethnic identity and membership of the Rainbow party. Another
representative stated: “Greece does not trust the people who live here because
they don’t feel Greek – they don’t speak Greek”. Participants described
experiencing problems in performing songs in the Macedonian language and
traditional dances …” (UN independent expert on minority issues, para. 47).
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe has equally expressed
that he “remains deeply concerned about the persistent denial by Greek authorities of
the existence on Greece’s territory of minorities.” (Commissioner for Human Rights,
- 18 -
REPORT by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council
of Europe Following his visit to Greece on 8-10 December 2008, Strasbourg, 19
February 2009, para. 40). These concerns are neither new nor original. A fact finding
mission conducted in Northern Greece during July 1993 by the Danish Helsinki
Committee, Minority Rights Group-Greece and Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
concluded early on that:
“ … the Greek government has denied the ethnic identity of the ethnic
Macedonian minority in violation of international human rights laws and
agreements. This is evidenced by open statements by Greek officials; by the
government’s denial of the existence of a Macedonian language; by the
government’s refusal to permit a “Center of Macedonian Culture”; and by the
government’s refusal in the recent past to permit the performance of
Macedonian songs and dances;
… freedom of expression is restricted for ethnic Macedonians in violation of
international human rights laws. Some rights activists have been prosecuted
and convicted for the peaceful expression of their views …
… the Greek government discriminates against the ethnic Macedonian minority
in violation of international laws and agreements to which it is a party;

… ethnic Macedonians, and particularly Macedonian rights activists, are
harassed by the government, followed and threatened by security forces, and
subjected to economic and social pressures resulting from government
harassment; this has led to a marked climate of fear in which many ethnic
Macedonians are reluctant to assert their Macedonian identity or to express
their view openly.” (Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Denying Ethnic Identity:
The Macedonians of Greece, New York, 1994, pp. 2-3).
Greece, as a member state of the EU since 1981, also has human rights obligations
that begin with the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe. Some of the basic
values expressed in this document include “respect for human dignity … equality …
respect for human rights … non-discrimination, tolerance [and] justice.” (Treaty
Establishing a Constitution for Europe, Preamble, Part I, Title I Definition and
Objectives of the Union, Article 1-2, The Union’s Values). Respect for human
dignity, equality, human rights, non-discrimination, tolerance and justice is not merely
an empty rhetorical promise. Indeed Greece signalled its intent to support such
concepts when its parliament unanimously (268-17) ratified the EU Constitution on
19 April 2005.
The EU has recently moved to enshrine such standards in a type of Bill of Rights for
the EU, known as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This is
an unambiguous human rights instrument that has been incorporated within the EU
Constitution itself. (See amendments made to the Treaty on European Union in the
Amsterdam Treaty of 1999). The Preamble of this document outlines in clear terms its
overriding context when it declares “human dignity … [and] … equality” as part of its
most fundamental values. More importantly it firmly declares its regard for the rights
- 19 -
espoused in “international obligations common to the Member States, the Treaty
[itself] … the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms, (a Council of Europe document) and the case-law” evolving
from the judicial organs of these European institutions. (Charter of Fundamental
Rights of the European Union, (2000/C, 364/01), Preamble).
Chapter III of the European Charter deals with the issue of equality. Article 20
declares that ‘everyone is equal before the law’ and Article 21 asserts that “any
discrimination based on any ground such as … ethnic … origin … political or any
other opinion, membership of a national minority [and/or] property … shall be
prohibited.” (Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, (2000/C,
364/01), Chapter III, ‘Equality’, Article 20 & 21). Article 52(3) of the Charter
provides for the common application of corresponding rights in the Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention)
in both meaning and scope. Greece itself ratified this convention on 28 November
1974.
The European Convention has an extensive array of protections afforded to
individuals. Article 8 asserts that “Everyone has the right to respect for his … family
life [and] his home.”’ The provision goes on to assert that “there shall be no
interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in
accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of
national security…[and]…public safety.” (European Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, (1950) (entered into force 3 September
1953) as amended by Protocol No 11 (1998), (entered into force 1 November 1998),
Article 8(1) & (2)). Article 9 provides that “everyone has the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion”, under Article 10, freedom of expression and under
Article 11 the freedom of assembly and association.
Notably, Greece has been found to be in violation of the provisions in the European
Convention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on many occasions.
This has not gone unnoticed by various international human rights monitors. For
Example, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance excoriated
Greece in this regard:
“ … persons wishing to express their Macedonian, Turkish or other identity
incur the hostility of the population. They are targets of prejudices and
stereotypes, and sometimes face discrimination, especially in the labour market.
In the Sidiropoulos and others v. Greece judgment of 10 July 1998, the
European Court of Human Rights found that the refusal to register the
association “Home of Macedonian Civilisation” constituted an interference
with the freedom of association as guaranteed by Article 11 of the European
Convention on Human Rights. ECRI deplores the fact that, five years after the
decision of the European Court of Human Rights, this association has still not
been registered despite the repeated applications made by its members.” (See
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, Third Report on Greece,
Adopted on 5 December 2003, CRI (2004) 24, Strasbourg, 8 June 2004, para.
81).
- 20 -
The recent Report of the United Nations independent expert on minority issues notes
that “subsequent [Greek] domestic court decisions have failed to conform to the
European Court finding and the Home of Macedonian Culture remains unregistered.”
(UN independent expert on minority issues, para. 43). In the recent ECHR case of
Vinozhito and Others v. Greece (2005), the Court again found Greece in violation of
the European Convention, specifically Article 6(1), which provides for a right to a fair
trial and Article 11, a right to freedom of assembly. The case concerned the vandalism
perpetrated on the office of Vinozhito in 1995 by a violent mob and the nonintervention
of the local Greek police. Vinozhito is a political party representing the
ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece. In bringing its decision, the Court stated that:
“ … two days before the incidents, the local authorities clearly incited the
population of the town of Florina [Lerin] to protests against the applicants in
which some of their members took part … thus [contributing] by their
behaviour to provoke the hostile feelings of part of the population with regard
to the applicants [Vinozhito]. The Court considers that the authorities of the
State [Greece] are supposed to defend and promote the intrinsic values with a
democratic system, such as pluralism, the tolerance and social cohesion.”
Not surprisingly, yet another report, this time by the Commissioner for Human Rights
of the Council of Europe noted “with particular concern that the Greek authorities’
refusal to recognise the existence of any other kind of minority apart from the
‘Muslim’ one has led in fact to a number of applications before the European Court
of Human Rights, especially concerning minority members” right to freedom of
association, as provided for by Article 11 of the European Convention.
(Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, para. 16). Moreover, the
Commissioner made a point of recalling that “freedom of ethnic self-identification is a
major principle in which democratic pluralistic societies should be grounded and
should be effectively applied to all minority groups, be they national, religious or
linguistic.” (Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, para. 42). He
went further and stated that “as regards in particular freedom of association, the
great importance for democracy of the freedom of establishment and functioning of
associations “seeking an ethnic identity or asserting a minority consciousness” has
been emphasised by the European Court of Human Rights.” (Commissioner for
Human Rights of the Council of Europe, para. 48).
Protocol No 1 to the European Convention adds under Article 1, which deals with the
protection of property that “no one shall be deprived of his possessions”. (Protocol
No 1 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms: protection of property, education, free elections (1952),
(entered into force 18 May 1954), Article 1). These provisions should be read
alongside Article 14, which asserts that these rights “shall be secured without
discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property,
birth or other status.’ It is interesting to note that ‘in a number of spheres Greek law
draws a distinction between non-citizens of Greek origin (sometimes called
“homogeneis”) and non-citizens of another origin (sometimes called “allogeneis”).
This difference in treatment generally takes the form of a privileged status for persons
of Greek origin.” (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, para. 60).
This cannot be dismissed as of no consequence. A blatant example of its
- 21 -
discriminatory effect is the introduction of Ministerial Decree number 106841, which
announced the relevant passages to the stipulations of Law no. 400/76, providing that:
“Free to return to Greece are all Greeks by genus, who during the Civil War of
1946-1949 and because of it have fled abroad as political refugees, in spite that
the Greek citizenship has been taken away from them.” (Official Gazzettier of
the Government of the Republic of Greece, Part Two, Ministerial Decrees and
Approvals, No. 106841, ‘Free repatriation and return to Greek citizenship of the
political refugees’, Athens, 5 January 1983, p.1).
As the UN independent expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall reports, “this
decision excludes those identifying as ethnic Macedonians and is therefore considered
discriminatory.” (UN Independent expert on minority issues, para. 44). Similarly,
Law no. 1540 was subsequently introduced making provision for the return of
confiscated properties to political emigrants, read political refugees. The wording
used in the legislation was again unjustly circumspect. It defines political emigrants
for whom the law shall have application as “Greeks by genus, who, because of the
Civil War, had fled abroad.”’ (Official Gazzettier of the Government of the Republic
of Greece, Volume One, Law No. 1540, Provisions Concerning the Properties of the
Political Emigrants and Other Regulations, Athens, 10 April 1985, No. 67). As the
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance notes, “this regulation applied
solely to persons “of Greek origin”, thus excluding persons of non-Greek, and
particularly Macedonian, origin who had nonetheless left Greece under the same
conditions.” (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, para. 61).
Yet another minority rights document, not ratified by Greece, is the UNESCO
Convention Against Discrimination in Education (1960). Article 5.1(C) provides that
“it is essential to recognise the right of members of national minorities to carry on
their own educational activities.” The UN Independent expert on minority issues also
raises this issue with Greece, noting that she:
“ … met numerous individuals identifying as ethnic Macedonian. Some
described themselves as fluent in the Macedonian language, having learned it
within their families as it is not taught at school. Others described frustration
that they lack fluency due to the lack of learning opportunities. They claim to
have made numerous approaches to the Greek Ministry of Education regarding
language education, which have never been acknowledged.” (UN Independent
expert on minority issues, para. 45).
The UN independent expert on minority issues takes up the point further:
“Successive governments have pursued a policy of denial of the ethnic
Macedonian community and the Macedonian language … The response of
earlier Greek governments was to suppress any use of the Macedonian
language and cultural activities. In recent times the harsh tactics have ceased
but those identifying as ethnic Macedonian still report discrimination and
harassment. They consider it of crucial importance for their continued existence
that their ethnic identity and distinctiveness is respected. The Macedonian
language is not recognized, taught, or a language of tuition in schools.” (UN
Independent expert on minority issues, para. 41).
- 22 -
Moreover the report did not neglect historical aspects of the denial of the existence of
ethnic Macedonians in Greece. It well notes the symbolic ethnic cleansing of ethnic
Macedonians by the Greek state in the early half of the 20th. Century: “In the 1920s
and 30s laws required the replacement of non-Greek names of towns, villages, rivers
and mountains with Greek names. The family names of the Macedonian speaking
population were also required to be changed to Greek names. Individuals seeking to
re-instate Macedonian family names have had their petitions refused by authorities on
administrative grounds. Community representatives note that traditional names
continue to be in common usage and call for reinstatement and the official usage of a
dual nomenclature e.g. Florina/Lerin” (UN Independent expert on minority issues,
para. 42).
Similarly in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 30 states that
“in those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities … exist, a child
belonging to such a minority … shall not be denied the right, in community with other
members of his or her group” to enjoy their cultural, religious and linguistic rights as
a minority.
The OSCE is another forum in which various human rights standards are advocated.
Greece signed the Helsinki Final Act on 1 August 1975. This instrument spells out
explicitly its respect for “human rights and fundamental freedoms … for all without
distinction.” Moreover, it forcefully advances the proposition that people belonging to
national minorities have a right to equality before the law. (Helsinki Final Act 1975,
Part VII. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom
of thought, conscience, religion or belief). Similarly, the Charter of Paris, (which
Greece signed on 21 November 1990), affirms the freedom of movement for people
without discrimination. Indeed “ethnic … minorities will be protected … [and will
have the right to] … develop that identity without any discrimination and in full
equality before the law.” (Charter of Paris for a New Europe, Human Rights,
Democracy and the Rule of Law, 21 November 1990. See also subsection on ‘Human
Dimension’ – States party, which includes Greece, declare respect for human rights
and fundamental freedoms to be irrevocable and acknowledge that the rights of
persons belonging to national minorities must be fully respected as part of universal
human rights.) The Copenhagen Document adopted in 1990 as part of OSCE
proceedings states clearly that;
“To belong to a national minority is a matter of a person’s individual choice
and no disadvantage may arise from the exercise of such choice. [These]
persons … have the right freely to express, preserve and develop their ethnic
cultural, linguistic or religious identity and to maintain and develop their
culture in all aspects, free of any attempts at assimilation against their will.”
(Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, Copenhagen Document,
(1990), para. 32).
The above underpins a group’s right to “establish and maintain unimpeded contacts
among themselves within their country as well as contacts across frontiers with
citizens of other States with whom they share a common ethnic or national origin [or]
cultural heritage.” (para. 32, Section 4). Other human rights instruments that Greece
has simply refused to ratify are the European Charter for Regional and Minority
- 23 -
Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
The latter is an instrument that seeks to ensure the respect for the right of every person
belonging to a national minority to freedom of peaceful assembly, association,
expression, thought, conscience and religion, (Article 7), the right to manifest their
religion, (Article 8), and to hold opinions and impart information and ideas in the
minority language, (Article 9). The European Commission against Racism and
Intolerance has strongly recommended that “the Greek authorities ratify as soon as
possible the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.”
(European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, para. 5). Similar requests
have been made by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe,
calling on “the Greek authorities to proceed promptly to the ratification of or
accession to certain major Council of Europe treaties, such as the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Convention on
Nationality and the Fourth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.”
(Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Part III).
Not surprisingly, there are modern day rules under international law that are
specifically concerned with the recognition and protection of minority groups – today.
The fact is that Greece has consistently contravened the treaties it is a party to, and
has simply refused to ratify and implement several others. As Minority Rights Group
declares, “there is no question that the Greek state’s human rights record is in
violation of the many international conventions it has ratified, i.e. the various [OSCE]
documents on the human dimension, the Council of Europe’s human rights
conventions, and the UN human rights conventions … Greece is behind all other
European Union and West European countries.” (MRG-Greece, Report: The
Southern Balkans, Minority Rights Group, London, 1994, p.19).
How does the Professor of Graeco-Roman antiquity reconcile with these
contemporary norms and standards? Perhaps he too, along with Greece, should take
note of what the authorities on human rights recommend, such as to “acknowledge the
existence in Greece of an ethnic Macedonian minority with its own culture and
language; end free expression restrictions on ethnic Macedonians … [and]. … end
harassment of ethnic Macedonians in general, and of Macedonian rights monitors in
particular.” (Human Rights Watch, p.61). It is worth finishing with Gay McDougall,
the UN independent expert on minority issues, who encapsulates the problem of
Greece in her detailed recommendations. Something the Professor of Graeco-Roman
antiquity should also read:
“81. The Greek government’s interpretation of the term “minorities” is too
restrictive to meet current standards: it focuses on the historical understanding
of “national minorities” created by the dissolution of empires or agreements
concluded at the end of wars; the so-called Minority Treaties. This historical
paradigm limits the definition to those communities identified in specific bilateral
treaties that may also delineate the obligations to the beneficiary
community, in some cases tying those benefits to reciprocal arrangements for
kinship communities in the other state. Treatment of the identified minorities,
therefore, is a matter of inter-state treaty relations. Greece does not recognize
the minority status of other communities, stating that those claims are
unsubstantiated and politically motivated. …
- 24 -
82. One also senses an interest in promoting a singular national identity. This
approach may leave little room for diversity. It can contribute to a climate in
which citizens who wish to freely express their ethnic identities face government
blockages and in some instances, intimidation from other individuals or groups.
In the northern part of the country some people expressed their view that the
term “minority” implies “foreign.” Some consider those who want to identify as
a person belonging to a minority ethnic group to be conspirators against the
interest of the Greek state.

90. The government should retreat from the dispute over whether there is a
Macedonian minority or a Turkish minority and place its full focus on
protecting the rights to self-identification, freedom of expression and freedom of
association of those communities. The Greek government should comply with
the judgments of the European Court on Human Rights that associations should
be allowed to use the words Macedonian or Turkish in their names and to freely
express their ethnic identities. Those associations denied in the past must be
given official registration promptly. Their further rights to minority protections
must be respected as elaborated in the Declaration on Minorities and the core
international human rights treaties.
91. The government should guarantee the right to personal security and
freedom from intimidation or discriminatory actions by private or public actors
on the grounds of the exercise of their right to self-identification.”
So in summary, the mistreatment of ethnic Macedonians in Greece has been well
documented in recent years by respected organizations such as Human Rights Watch
(Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece, 1994), The European
Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI 2004), Minority Rights Group
(MRG 1994), a Council of Europe body which on 8 June 2004 published its third
report on Greece and, most recently, the U.N. report titled “Promotion and Protection
of All Human Rights in Greece” of 18 February 2009 which was prepared by the
U.N.’s expert on minority issues Gay McDougall. One of Ms McDougall’s most
important recommendations is worth noting again, it emphatically states that the
Greek government should “… withdraw from the dispute over whether there is a
Macedonian or Turkish Minority in Greece and focus on protecting the right to selfidentification,
freedom of expression and freedom of association of those
communities. Their rights to minority protections must be honoured in accordance
with the Declaration on Minorities and the core international Human Rights treaties.
Greece should comply fully with the judgements of the European Court of Human
Rights, specifically those decisions that associations should be allowed to use the
words “Macedonian” and “Turkish” in their names and to express their ethnic
identities freely.” (p.2). The case against Greece is simply overwhelming.
XI Miller – The Last of the Distortions and Miller the Proponent of
Annexation!
Professor Miller’s claims that “Skopje’s territorial aspirations” are evidenced by
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school maps which in his own words “show the pseudo-greater Macedonia, stretching
from Skopje to Mt. Olympus and labeled in Slavic. The same map and its claims are in
calendars, bumper stickers, bank notes, etc., that have been circulating in the new
state ever since it declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Why would a
poor land-locked new state attempt such historical nonsense? Why would it brazenly
mock and provoke its neighbour? However one might like to characterize such
behavior, it is clearly not a force for historical accuracy, nor for stability in the
Balkans. It is sad that the United States of America has abetted and encouraged such
behavior.”
The evidence he provides for such “irredentist behaviour”, a map of Macedonia which
places the three parts of Macedonia firmly within the Republic of Macedonia, Greece
and Bulgaria and a further one which shows the division of Macedonia after World
War I, hardly qualify as incontrovertible proof that the Republic of Macedonia has
designs on Greek territory. They are simply part of a history lesson. The bank note
which he claims is from 1991 and displays the White Tower of Salonika was not legal
tender and not issued by the Macedonian government. This is quite apparent given
that the note is for the value of One Makedonka, which has never been legal tender in
Macedonia. Macedonia’s official unit of currency until the introduction of the Denar
on 26 April 1992 was the old Yugoslav Dinar. The professor should really do what we
are sure he advises his students to do; his homework.
The fact of the matter which Professor Miller wilfully ignores is that under the Interim
Accord of 13 September 1995 signed by the foreign ministers of Greece and
Macedonia, both sides confirmed their existing frontiers as an enduring and inviolable
international border. They also agreed that they would not support the action of a third
party directed against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence
of the other party. They agreed to refrain from the threat or use of force, including the
threat or use of force designed to violate their existing frontiers, and they agreed that
neither party would assert or support claims to any part of the territory of the other, or
claims for a change of their existing frontier. Furthermore, Macedonia agreed that
nothing in its Constitution, and in particular in the Preamble thereto or in Article 3 of
the Constitution, can or should be interpreted as constituting or will ever constitute the
basis of any claim by it to any territory not within its existing borders. In addition ,
Macedonia agreed that nothing in its Constitution, and in particular in Article 49 as
amended, can or should be interpreted as constituting or will ever constitute the basis
for it to interfere in the internal affairs of another State in order to protect the status
and rights of any persons in other States who are not citizens of Macedonia. Finally
Macedonia agreed to change its flag and stop using the Sun of Kutlesh (Star of
Vergina). (GREECE and THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF
MACEDONIA, Interim Accord (with related letters and translations of the Interim
Accord in the languages of the Contracting Parties). Signed at New York on 13
September 1995 found at:

http://untreaty.un.org/unts/120001_144071/6/3/00004456.pdf).

When one considers the above and the obvious disparity in economic and military
power between the two countries, it is apparent that any accusations that the Republic
of Macedonia has irredentist designs on Greek territory have no basis in fact.
- 26 -
Despite Greece’s vehement objections over 120 countries, including UN Security
Council members USA, Russia, China and the UK, have recognised Macedonia as the
Republic of Macedonia. None of them has voiced the concern that the name Republic
of Macedonia is an attempt to usurp Greek history. Nor did Greece up until 1988, as
evidenced by the fact that it had a consulate in the then Socialist Republic of
Macedonia which regularly addressed correspondence to the Socialist Republic of
Macedonia.
Despite Professor Miller’s protestations that he is solely concerned with the historical
truth and that “Our common international society cannot survive when history is
ignored, much less when history is fabricated”, his resolution of the question of the
use of the name Macedonia, as detailed in his letter (apparently unpublished by the
magazine) of 22 January 2009 to the editor of the Archaeology Magazine, which is
published in Long Island City, New York reveals that far from the Republic of
Macedonia harbouring irredentist ambitions on Greek territory, it is the good
professor himself who sees annexation as the solution to “Paionia’s mocking and
provocation of its neighbour”.
In that letter Professor Miller states explicitly: “Allow me to end this exegesis by
making a suggestion to resolve the question of the modern use of the name
“Macedonia.” Greece should annex Paionia – that is what Philip II did in 359 B.C.
And that would appear to be acceptable to the modern residents of that area since
they claim to be Greek by appropriating the name Macedonia and its most famous
man. Then the modern people of this new Greek province could work on learning to
speak and read and write Greek, hopefully even as well as Alexander did.
( http://www.panmacedonian.info/Archaeology+Miller.htm)
There we are, Professor (or should it be Warrior?) Miller, the proponent of annexation
- Greece should simply invade the Republic of Macedonia. Bravo Professor,
Alexander the Macedonian and his father Philip II would have been proud of you.
What we now need to know is whether your co-signatories are also proud of your
malicious intentions?
Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI)
###
Founded in 1984, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) has been working
towards achieving human rights for Macedonians and other oppressed minorities. For more
information, please visit http://www.macedonianhr.org.au, or contact AMHRC at +61 3 9460 2910, or
mail@macedonianhr.org.au.
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national
rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information, please
visit http://www.mhrmi.org, or contact MHRMI at 416-850-7125, or info@mhrmi.org.

A Response to Professor Stephen G Miller June 10, 2009

Posted by Yilan in Human rights abuses, Macedonia.
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amhr

A Response to Professor Stephen G Miller
By the
Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI)
9 June 2009
Dear Sir/ Madam
We write to you in regards to the letter to President Barack Obama dated 18 May
2009 which you appear to have co-signed in your capacity as a scholar of Graeco-
Roman Antiquity. (www.macedonia-evidence.org)
The purpose of this letter was to ask Mr. Obama to reverse US recognition of the
Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name. Putting aside the absurdity of
referring to ancient history as a basis for conducting present-day foreign policy, the
letter itself epitomizes Greece’s irrational, and dangerous, stance on the Macedonian
issue.
Greece refuses to accept the existence of ethnic Macedonians and the constitutional
name of the Republic of Macedonia. Consequently, Greece persecutes its Macedonian
minority and its actions are condemned by the European Court of Human Rights, the
United Nations, and the international community as a whole.
The author of the letter, Professor Stephen Miller, has even publicly called on Greece
to annex the Republic of Macedonia.
Our organizations have taken the opportunity to not only deal with these issues, but to
also address relevant matters on ancient and modern Macedonia. Please see our
attached response.
We ask that you carefully consider our position and re-examine your endorsement of
the above mentioned letter.
Yours sincerely,
Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
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I Introduction
The letter dated 18 May 2009 by Stephen G Miller to President Barack Obama and its
endorsement by other academics purports to be an objective presentation of facts
designed to protect the “historical truth” about Alexander the Great and the Ancient
Macedonians from “misappropriation by the government in Skopje”. After presenting
tendentious historical material which buttresses the central point of his argumentnamely,
that Alexander the Macedonian was Greek – he appeals to President Obama
“to help- in whatever ways you deem appropriate- the government in Skopje to
understand that it cannot build a national identity at the expenses of historical truth”.
In reality, however Professor Miller’s letter is nothing more than a blatant political
intervention in support of Greece’s irrational campaign to coerce the Republic of
Macedonia to change its name and to thereby deny the existence of the Macedonian
people, identity, language and culture, not only in the Republic of Macedonia, but in
Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia as well. He has enlisted the support of other
academics in an attempt to lend a semblance of legitimacy to his nefarious political
goals.
Professor Miller’s letter does not directly deal with the issue of the emergence of
modern national identities, however what logically flows from the way in which he
sets out his argument is that as Alexander the Macedonian was a Greek and Ancient
Macedonia an Ancient Greek land, the modern Greeks are the direct descendants of
the Ancient Macedonians and the name Macedonia can only belong to Greece and
Greeks. As he tendentiously states: “this brings us back to the geographic area known
in antiquity as Paionia. Why would the people who live there now call themselves
Macedonians and their land Macedonia? Why would they abduct a completely Greek
figure and make him their national hero?”
Professor Miller should be aware that modern national and ethnic identities in the
Balkans and indeed, throughout Europe, are relatively recent phenomena which
emerged in the wake of the French Revolution as a result of interwoven complex
political, economic and cultural processes. No nation in Europe can claim that it is
directly descended from the ancient peoples who inhabited the lands on which it has
formed its nation state and to assert that this is so, in an attempt to strengthen one’s
claim to a name or identity, is nothing less than a nationalistic flight of fantasy.
Consequently, European ethnic groups are an amalgam of peoples and their modern
ethno-cultural identities realistically have little in common with ancient peoples.
Nevertheless, this does not preclude modern ethnic group from investigating and
studying the links between them and all the other peoples who have historically
inhabited their lands, as modern Italians do with the Romans and Egyptians with the
Ancient Egyptians. Professor Miller however, asserts that it is only modern Greeks
who have the right to appropriate the legacy of Alexander the Macedonian by using
specious arguments such as: “The ancient Paionians may or may not have been
Greek, but they certainly became Greekish, and they were never Slavs. They were
also not Macedonians. Ancient Paionia was a part of the Macedonian Empire. So
were Ionia and Syria and Palestine and Egypt and Mesopotamia and Babylonia and
Bactria and many more. They may thus have become “Macedonian” temporarily, but
none was ever “Macedonia”. The theft of Philip and Alexander by a land that was
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never Macedonia cannot be justified.” In making such a statement Professor Miller
not only displays his superficial understanding of the construction of modern national
identities, but also directly supports the irrational claim that Greece has a monopoly
on the classical past. In actuality all modern peoples of European origin have a right
to share in the legacies of the ancient past.
Given that the thesis presented by Professor Miller – namely, that the Ancient
Macedonians were Greek and by extension that only modern day Greece and Greeks
(as if they are the same thing as ancient Hellenes) have the historical and cultural right
to the legacy and name of Macedonia- is a central plank of Greece’s attempt to justify
its campaign to force the Republic of Macedonia to change its name and to deny the
existence of the Macedonian ethnic group-, we should briefly examine the claim that
the “Ancient Macedonians were Greek.”
II Ancient Discussions
Both Phillip II and Alexander the Macedonian used the ancient Greek language for
diplomatic, trade and administrative purposes. It seems to have been an act of political
expediency. The use of the Greek language for these purposes cannot be used to
support the claim that ethno-culturally the ancient Macedonians were Greek, any
more than the official use of English, French and Portuguese in many countries in
Africa can be used to claim that the inhabitants of these countries are thereby of
English, French and Portuguese origin. Professor of Ancient History, Eugene Borza,
enlisting the support of another Professor of Ancient History, Nicholas Hammond,
states: “But, as Hammond shows, the significance of the Greek-Macedonian cultural
conjunction was that the Macedonians adapted and exploited philhellenism for
purposes that were uniquely Macedonian. Indeed, one could add that the adoption of
Greek adornments over the long run changed nothing fundamental in Macedonian
society, so that many Macedonian elite may have talked like Greeks, dressed like
Greeks, and imitated, imported, and admired Greek art, but they lived and acted like
Macedonians, a people whose political and social system was alien to what most
Greeks believed, wrote about, and practiced.” (Eugene N. Borza; In the Shadow of
Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon, 1990, Princeton University Press, p.172.)
While the territory of the core of the Ancient Macedonian kingdom waxed and waned,
historical analyses show towns such as Skopje, Ohrid and Bitola within the present
borders of the Republic of Macedonia, to have been part of Macedonia since the time
of Alexander the Macedonian. (Borza, 1990:30-31.) The territory that is now northern
Greece formed an important part of Macedonia in Antiquity. However, the greater
part of this area did not form part of the first Macedonian kingdom, but was gradually
incorporated into that kingdom as Macedonia’s power and prestige grew. If we were
to take literally Professor’s Miller’s contention that the Republic of Macedonia was
called Paionia in antiquity and did not form part of the core Macedonian territory and
thus cannot be called Macedonia today, then it follows that most of the northern
Greek region which the Greek authorities claim as the “true Macedonia” can also not
be called Macedonia as it did not form part of the first Macedonian kingdom. By
applying such “logic” many modern nations would have to thereby relinquish their
current names or reduce the size of their territory – as this would not be found to be
congruent with the small areas on which pre-modern kings established their
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embryonic kingdoms and fiefdoms. Presumably and absurdly, Kosovo should not use
that name as it was Dardania in Antiquity.
There is evidence to suggest, that in Antiquity, the Macedonians and Hellenes (we use
the term Hellenes, in a general sense, for the sake of convenience, it is well known
that there was not in ancient times a unified Hellenic “nation”, in the modern sense,
rather, there were numerous city states that were culturally, politically and
economically, quite diverse and moreover, they were often in conflict with each other)
considered themselves to be separate and distinct people.
We shall begin by noting that there are some important examples of Hellenic
speaking ancient Athenians explicitly classifying the Macedonians as foreigners, by
applying the word “barbaroi”, to them. (Borza, 1990:96) One, for example need only
look at the well-known quote by the great Athenian orator and statesman
Demosthenes (384-322 BC) to determine that the Greeks and the Macedonians
viewed each other as separate peoples: “Truly Phillip calls himself a Hellenophile ,
that is a friend of Greece … . That is more than a lie. The king cannot be a
Hellenophile because of his barbarian origin . He is not a Hellene and is not in any
way connected by kin with the Hellenes. He is not even a foreigner with a decent
origin. He is only a miserable Macedon: and in Macedonia , as is well known, one
cannot even buy a decent slave”(Demosthenes Crationes, from a History of
Diplomacy , Vol 5, Diodor Sikelioi, Biblioteka Historica, p49)
That this was no mere political rhetoric directed at a political opponent who was a
fellow “Hellene“ is shown by the Austrian-American historian Ernst Badian who
speaks of another occasion when Demosthenes called Philip a barbarian: “Above all,
however, this helps to explain how, half a generation after Philip’s revival of the
Macedonian king’s claim to eminent Greek descent had been accepted at Olympia and
his efforts to integrate his court had been bearing fruit, Greek opponents could still
call not only the Macedonian people, but the king himself, “barbarian.” In this
respect, nothing had changed since the days of Archelaus. The term is in fact more
than once used of Philip by Demosthenes, most notably in two passages. In one, in the
Third Olynthiac (3.24), he claims that a century ago “the king then in power in the
country was the subject [of our ancestors], as a barbarian ought to be to Greeks.” In
the second, a long tirade in the Third Philippic (9.30 f.), he claims that suffering
inflicted on Greeks by Greeks is at least easier to bear than that now inflicted by
Philip, “who is not only not a Greek and has nothing to do with Greeks, but is not
even a barbarian from a place it would be honorable to name–a cursed Macedonian,
who comes from where it used to be impossible even to buy a decent slave.” This, of
course, is simple abuse. It may have nothing to do with historical fact, any more than
the orators’ tirades against their personal enemies usually have. But as I have tried to
make clear, we are not concerned with historical fact as such; we are concerned only
with sentiment, which is itself historical fact and must be taken seriously as such. In
these tirades we find not only the Hellenic descent of the Macedonian people (which
few seriously accepted) totally denied, but even that of the king. It is not even
mentioned merely in order to be rejected: the rejection is taken as a matter of course.
Now, the orator clearly could not do this, if his audience was likely to regard his
claim as plain nonsense: it could not be said of a Theban, or even of a Thessalian.
The polite acceptance of the Macedonian kings as Hellenes ruling a barbarian nation
was still not totally secure: one would presumably divide over it on irrational
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grounds, according to party and personal sentiment–as so many of us still divide,
over issues that are inherently more amenable to rational treatment.(68)” (Ernst
Badian, “Greeks and Macedonians” in Macedonia And Greece In Late Classical And
Early Hellenistic Times, Studies In The History Of Art Vol 10: (The National Gallery
Of Art, Washington, 1980)).
The Classics professor, Peter Green, has written many books and articles about the
Ancient Greeks and Macedonians in which he provides valuable information about
how the Greeks and Macedonians saw themselves. For example on Page 50 of his
book Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C, Professor Green states as follows:
“And though Philip did not give a fig for Panhellenism as an idea, he at once
saw how it could be turned into highly effective camouflage (a notion which his
son subsequently took over ready-made). Isocrates had, unwittingly, supplied
him with the propaganda-line he needed. From now on he merely had to clothe
his Macedonian ambitions in a suitable Panhellenic dress.” (Peter Green,
Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C: A Historical Biography, University of
California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1991).
On page 7 of the book Alexander to Actium he states: “But then, Eumenes was a
Greek, and Macedonian troops, especially the old sweats who had served under
Philip II, were never really comfortable being led by non-Macedonians.” (Alexander
to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age, University of California
Press, 19 October 1993)
We may summarise by again quoting from Eugene Borza, Professor of Ancient
History at Pennsylvania State University: “No single argument is conclusive, but the
case builds in quality as it grows in quantity of evidence, and, in the end, is
persuasive. Despite the efforts of Phillip II and Alexander the Great to bridge the gap
between the two cultures, Greeks and Macedonians remained steadfastly antipathetic
toward one another (with dislike of a different quality than the mutual long term
hostility shared by some Greek city-states) until well into the Hellenistic period, when
both the culmination of Hellenic acculturation in the north and the rise of Rome made
it clear that what these peoples shared took precedence over their historical
enmities.” (Borza,1990:96)
Borza moves on to ask: “Who were the Macedonians? As an ethnic question it is best
avoided, since the mainly modern political overtones tend to obscure the fact that it
really is not a very important issue. That they may or may not have been Greek in
whole or part-while an interesting anthropological sidelight-is really not crucial to
our understanding of their history. They made their mark not as a tribe of Greeks or
other Balkan peoples, but as Macedonians. This was understood by foreign
protagonists from the time of Darius and Xerxes to the age of Roman
generals.”(Borza,1990:96)
So we can conclude that Miller is on very slippery ground, at best, when claiming that
Ancient Macedonians and Hellenes were absolutely one and the same thing and that
such an assertion is simply an incontestable fact. Clearly, it is still a matter for debate,
to say the least. Worse still though, is the ridiculous attempt to claim that modern day
Greeks have a right to own the word, “Macedonia”. This is simply because of all the
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change that has occurred in the Balkans over the last 2,500 years! The region has been
invaded and re-invaded and conquered numerous times – by the Romans, various
Germanic and Tatar tribes and most notably, by Slavic tribes. Therefore it is absurd
for anyone to try to claim some kind of continuous unbroken blood or cultural link.
The Slavs that invaded and settled the Balkans in the 5th Century AD did not just stop,
as is often claimed by Greek propagandists, at “southern Yugoslavia”. They settled
the whole of the Balkans, including almost the entirety of what is today Greece, in
what is reputed to have been one of the largest mass migrations in early medieval
history. (Fine, 1991:30-36, 60-64; it is also worth noting that over the last decade,
new discussions in the academic world have begun about the nature of the early Slavs
and their appearance in the Balkans in the 6th century AD – see the work of the
Historian, Professor Florin Curta, The Making of the Slavs, Cambridge University
Press, 2001.) We shall here quote from Professor John Fine of the University of
Michigan: “It is evident that in this period a great deal of ethnic mixture between
Slavs and Greeks occurred; probably few pure-blooded Greeks – if such existed prior
to the Slavic invasions- were left. A few centuries later many Albanians migrated into
these regions and further increased the ethnic mixtures. Thus there is no reason to
believe that the Greeks now are any purer blooded than any other Balkan peoples.
But, of course, it is culture rather than blood-lines that matters.” (John V.A. Fine;
The Early Medieval Balkans, University of Michigan Press, 1991, p.64) In any case, it
is clear that serious alterations had occurred by early medieval times, in the cultures,
economies and politics of all social groupings in the Balkans. The fact that the
Orthodox church and the modern Greek state, relatively recently, succeeded in
introducing, on a mass national level, a form of Greek language based on the ancient
Hellenic language, does not alter the fact that modern day Greeks, possess a culture,
economy and political system, that have little in common with that of the ancient city
states. However, if we followed Miller’s “logic”, we would have to go further than
pointing this out; we would have to demand that today’s Greeks renounce their claim
to Greekness and admit their Slavo-Albanian roots; or at the very least, refer to
themselves as “Slavo-Albanian Greeks”.
However, Fine is quite right to stress that culture takes precedence, and culture is a
social construction, a human invention. And what we have here been demonstrating is
that social constructions can vary over time. For this context, it is pertinent to point
out that words like “Macedonian” and “Greek”, are symbols, and the meaning of
symbols, what they represent, can vary enormously, over even short periods – let
alone 2,000 years! This variation was a normal result of the changes that took place in
the Balkans in the periods under discussion. In ancient times, the words
“Macedonian” and “Hellene,” undoubtedly referred to socio-cultural groupings that
are very different from the ones that these symbols represent today. However, this is
not a problem, for these ancient social configurations, disappeared long ago.
Modern day Macedonians and Greeks, were socially constructed during the last four
centuries – like most European nations and ethnicities. This was done in the context
of Modernity and involved, among other things, the rise of capitalist economies; the
rise of a culture dominated by a dialectic possessing, a pursuit of rational mastery on
one hand, and romance on the other (and this is where one in particular, should look
for the ways in which modern Macedonians and Greeks revived the ancient symbols
that came to form part of the basis of their identities); and a centralised state based
more or less on mass representative democracy (unlike the democracy of Ancient
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Athens!). The social configuration thus produced, is quite unique/new; and so are the
modern European nations that inhabit and form an important part of it. (Western
academic texts discussing this process are numerous, perhaps two relatively older
ones are among the most useful for beginners, (and Miller undoubtedly is!): Ernest
Gellner’s Nations and Nationalism, Blackwell, Oxford 1983 and Benedict Anderson’s
Imagined Communities,Verso, London 1983) If the basis upon which modern day
Macedonians have come into existence is false, as Miller claims, it is no more false
than the way in which all other modern nations and ethnicities have come into
existence, including the modern Greeks. Thus, to quote the American anthropologist,
Loring Danforth, from an “anthropological perspective, the relatively recent date of
the creation of a Macedonian state and the construction of a Macedonian nation, in
comparison to other Balkan cases, does not mean, as Greek nationalists claim, that
the Macedonian nation is ‘artificial’, while the Greek nation is ‘genuine’. … Both
Macedonian national identity and Greek national identity are equally constructed.”
(Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict, Princeton University Press, 1995,
p.108; and for more on the construction of the Modern Greek nation during the 19th
century, see the work of the Historian, John Breuilly, Nationalism and the State, The
University of Chicago Press, 1994, especially pp.137-148.) Social constructing and
reconstructing; defining and re-defining; valuing and re-valuing, appear to be an
ontological aspect of the human condition – they create culture; existential meaning,
and Professor Miller serves nobody well when trying to claim that the cultural
creativity of one group, is superior to that of other groups.
Modern day Macedonians and Greeks, both have a right to share these ancient
symbols, that is the names “Macedonian” and “Greek”, that emerged from the lands
they presently occupy and neither has the right to forbid the other from using them.
Ethnic identity is of basic existential significance in the modern world and that is one
of the reasons why it is a human right and protected by international law. Notably,
even though Greece only began to officially refer to its northern province as
“Macedonia” (from 1955 till the mid 80’s the official name of the region in Greece
was “Northern Greece”, administered by the “Ministry of Northern Greece”, Law
3200, 23 April 1955) as a result of laws and directives passed in 1986 (Law 1622 of
1986) and 1988 (Prime Ministerial decision no.704, 19 August 1988); the Republic of
Macedonia (which has been using the name since it was formed in 1944) has not
made any request for Greece to drop its usage. Such sharing does not create confusion
as the different meanings (provincial/regional as opposed to ethnic or national) are
very clear and easily explainable. Such sharing is well within the bounds of reason,
though it is curious that Miller should claim for modern Greece, ownership of a word
that Greece itself was long reluctant to officially utilise.
Professor Miller’s distress at the “misappropriation by the government in Skopje of
the most famous of Macedonians, Alexander the Great” and his contention that
Alexander has become Slavic is not borne out by an objective review of the facts. The
current government in the Republic of Macedonia does not claim that Alexander was
Slavic, but Macedonian. Prime Minister Gruevski has recently stated that he neither
knows nor cares whether he or the Macedonians are descendants of “Slavs” or the
Ancient Macedonians, but that he considers he and his people to be Macedonians with
a right to their own language, culture and identity like all other peoples. It should be
pointed out that while we may consider it inappropriate and the height of kitsch to
erect statues in the main square of Skopje at a time of severe economic crisis, the
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decision of the Macedonian government to do so was taken well before the onset of
the current global financial crisis. And lest Professor Miller go into paroxysms of rage
over the “misappropriation of Alexander by the Slav Paionians”, he should be
reminded that of the statues to be erected, only one is of Alexander. Three are of
Macedonian revolutionaries from the turn of the 20th century, one is of Tsar Samoil
and a further one, is of Cento, the Republic of Macedonia’s first post-war President.
III Modern Denial
On 27 March 1994 the Sunday Telegraph of London commented as follows on the
Greek myth of ethnic purity: “What is the word for the obsessive Greek pseudorelationship
with their country’s past (they even have a magazine, Ellenismos,
devoted to the subject)? It is not quite pretentiousness. There is too much passion for
that. No, the Greeks, the ancient ones had a word for the modern Greek condition:
paranoia. We must accept that Mr Andreas Papandreou (Greek prime Minister) and
the current EC presidency are the sole legitimate heirs of Pericles, Demosthenes and
Arisitide the Just. The world must nod dumbly at the proposition that in the veins of
the modern Greek … there courses the blood of Achilles. And their paranoid
nationalism is heightened by the tenuousness of that claim”.
The reality which Professor Miller seeks to avoid by focussing on the
“misappropriation of Alexander” is Greece’s concerted attempts to deny the existence
of the ethnic Macedonians (that is, Macedonians with an ethno-cultural identity, that
is not Greek) in the part of Macedonia within Greece. This has been well documented
by a number of independent human rights organisations and western anthropologists
(see further down). The existence of Macedonians in their ancestral homelands
destroys the myth of unbroken continuity between the supposedly “quintessentially
Greek” Ancient Macedonians and the Modern Greeks and thus undermines the basis
on which the Greek state attempts to justify its annexation of Aegean Macedonia in
1913; namely, that Macedonia was historically a Greek land since Antiquity which
“naturally” belonged with the borders of the then Kingdom of Greece.
The existence of ethnic Macedonians and other minorities such as the Turks, Roma,
Pomaks and Vlachs in Greece also challenges the myth of ethnic homogeneity which
the Greek state considers essential. Denial of minority rights is thus a natural corollary
of Greek State’s doctrine of national security. Finally, recognition of a Macedonian
minority in Greece exposes Greece to the real possibility that those Macedonians who
have been driven out of Greece and deprived of their citizenship, properties
(especially in the aftermath of the Greek Civil War, 1946-1949) and even the right to
temporarily enter Greece for family or personal reasons, will be encouraged to seek
restitution of their rights, thus leading to potentially onerous compensation obligations
being placed on Greece and the return of tens of thousands of ethnic Macedonians. It
is these considerations which have led to the irrational Greek campaign to force the
Republic of Macedonia to change its name.
This problem of Modern Greek fundamentalist ethno-nationalism has been discussed
by various western academics and NGO’s. Perhaps it was most succinctly put by the
American anthropologist, Loring Danforth, when he wrote that: “The inability of
Macedonians in the Florina (Lerin, in Macedonian) area to register a cultural
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association with the word Macedonian in its name,…is an excellent example of the
way in which the activities, purposes and by-laws of private associations are subject
to detailed regulation and control by the Greek state. It also confirms the fundamental
incompatibility of the Greek nationalist conception of the ‘ethnos as an integrated
entity embodied in the state’ and a philosophy of inalienable human rights. The issue
at stake in this case, is an issue of recognition – the refusal of the Greek state to
recognise the Centre for Macedonian Culture. This case, therefore, replicates the
central issue of the entire Macedonian conflict – the refusal of the Greek state to
recognise the existence of a Macedonian nation, a Macedonian language, or a
Macedonian minority in Greece.” (Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict,
Princeton University Press, 1995, p.130)
IV Modern Ethno-Nationalism
A point often glossed over is that what had come to be generally accepted in Europe
and the Balkans as denoting Macedonia in the late 19th and early 20th century
(constructed! – on how this construction developed, see H.R. Wilkinson’s classic
study, Maps and Politics: A review of the Ethnographic Cartography of Macedonia,
Liverpool University Press, 1951; especially pp.1-7, where one finds a Greek view
from the 19th century, that has all of what is now the Republic of Macedonia,
including Skopje!; and on the general issue of map reification and its role in nation
building, see Anderson’s Imagined Communities, pp.170-178.), had been contained as
a whole within the Ottoman Muslim Empire for 500 years. It was partitioned during
the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 and thereafter became the peripheral territories of its
neighbouring Balkan States – Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia. These lands had also been
under Ottoman rule for four centuries. During the 19th Century the inhabitants of these
lands shook off Ottoman rule and created modernistic nation-states. By the end of
WWI, the partition of Macedonia had resulted in Greece obtaining 51%, Serbia 38%
(this is the part that developed in 1944, during WWII, into the Republic of
Macedonia) and Bulgaria, only around 12%. (This made it certain that Bulgaria,
which had done an equal share of fighting against the Ottomans, would become
irredentist.) Their partition of Macedonia was part and parcel of an ethno-nationalist
desire to expand. The only problem was that these states did not accept the inhabitants
as they found them and a process of often violent ethnic assimilation was begun.
From the beginning, this involved both physical and symbolic ethnic cleansing, mass
expulsions and the razing of numerous towns and villages. This was documented at
the time by an International Commission that was sent to Macedonia to investigate the
situation by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (See the reprint of this
over 400 page, report: The Other Balkan Wars, Carnegie Endowment, Washington
DC 1993 (originally published in 1914). On Serbian and Greek atrocities and methods
see especially, pp.50-51, 89, 106 and 154; on the Bulgarians, noteworthy is p.106.)
This Greek policy continued throughout the inter-war years at varying levels of
intensity. The 1920s was a period marked by coerced out-migration, internal exile
and deportation, as explained by the Greek Anthropologist, Anastasia Karakasidou
(see pp.66-68 of her paper, Transforming Identity, Constructing Consciousness:
Coercion and Homogeny in North-western Greece, pp.55-97 in Victor Roudometof,
ed. The Macedonian Question, East European Monographs, Boulder, 2000). In
particular, coerced out-migration was given further impetus by the signing of the
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Treaty of Neuilly in 1919 between Greece and Bulgaria. This was supposed to involve
a “voluntary exchange of populations” – actually, tens of thousands (if one considers
the period from 1912-1928, then the figure reaches well over 100,000) of
Macedonians were systematically driven out of the Greek state. This was stepped up
still further after the settlement in Greek held Macedonia between 1923 and 1928, of
around 538,000 Greek Orthodox refugees from Asia Minor (many of whom were
Turkophone; are these your real Macedonians, with a direct connection to the Ancient
Macedonians, Professor Miller??). (Karakasidou, 2000:68.) “There were “numerous
directives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Governor General of Salonika
to local authorities making it abundantly clear that the ‘national interest’ necessitated
the emigration of as many Slav-speakers [which is how the Greek authorities often
referred to Macedonians, regardless of how they themselves chose to identify – the
authors] as possible … who should be compelled to move to Bulgaria through ‘skilful
and specialised work’.” (Carabott, 2003:148-149. For more detail on just how this
process of expelling Macedonians was carried out, see the rest of this paper by Dr.
Philip Carabott of the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, King’s
College London: The Politics of Constructing the Ethnic Other, published in JGKS
academic journal – History and Culture of South Eastern Europe, vol.5, 2003, pp.141-
159.) This today, is what is known as, ethnic cleansing. As a result, by 1930, the
demography of Aegean Macedonia had been transformed. Ethnic Macedonians had
definitely become a minority. For those remaining, the Greek state continued to use
repression and surveillance with the aid of both the military and the police.
(Karakasidou, 2000:75.)
V Recognition and Denial
The authors of this paper, incidentally, are not claiming that all these local
Macedonians, identified themselves as possessing a distinct Macedonian identity. Just
how many of them did, is difficult to determine, because the Greek state barred the
possibility of people identifying as such in the censuses. (It has continued to do so to
this very day – unlike in the Republic of Macedonia, where all ethnic minorities are
registered and counted.) Inter-war censuses in Greece, did permit citizens to register
their native tongue, but as the Greek journalist and author, Tasos Kostopoulos has
pointed out, the real results were never revealed. (See his paper – Counting the
“Other”: Official Census and Classified Statistics in Greece 1830-2001 in the JGKS
academic journal, vol.5, 2003, pp.55-78 and especially pp.58-59.) For example, as
Kostopoulos also explains, the census data from Aegean Macedonia in 1920, was not
published. The official reason given by the Greek state, Kostopoulos continues, was
“… for a lack of funds; the decision was made at the highest possible level, by the
Cabinet itself. The real reasons, as revealed by the official correspondence between
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Directorate of Macedonia, were that
the authorities ‘did not dare to avow and reveal publicly the existence of a non-Greek
Majority in [Greek]Macedonia.” (Kostopoulos, 2003:59.) Notably, another Greek
author, Dimtris Lithoxoou, while researching the Greek state archives, discovered that
Macedonians on seasonal work in Greece but outside of Macedonia, were registered
in the 1920 census, as speaking Macedonian. The results show Macedonian clearly
recorded as a separate language; a language in its own right; distinct from Greek or
Bulgarian etc. Thus it is rather silly for Greece and Professor Miller to today claim
that the Macedonian language does not exist; or that it can only be a variant of Greek;
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the Greek state officially recognised it as a distinct language as long ago as 1920!
(See Lithoxoou’s introductory article, pp.44-49, in Vinozhito-Rainbow’s 2007 reprint
of the ABECEDAR – which was a Macedonian language primer the Greek authorities
prepared for Macedonian School children in 1925, that was in the end, not introduced
– recognition and then denial!)
There is more evidence from other sources to suggest that those identifying as having
a distinct Macedonian identity must have been significant in number. For example, as
Carabott points out, in 1923, an officially Greek approved international Mixed
Commission, investigating the situation on the ground in Greek held Macedonia,
asking villagers in the western and central regions of Macedonia about their
conditions, in general replied: “We want good administration. We are Macedonians,
not Greeks or Bulgars. Give us a good father and we will be good children.” (Cited in
Carabott, 2003:145.) Carabott continues on to conclude that “This selfcharecterisation
as ‘Macedonians’ in juxtaposition to being neither Greeks nor
Bulgarians points at a distinct Macedonian identity …”. (Carabott, 2003:145.) Also
noteworthy in this regard, is “ethnological” research carried out in 1925 by the Greek
military officer Salvanos, Chief of Staff of the Tenth Army Division of Western
Macedonia in Greece. He found, among other things, that the bulk of the inhabitants
of the County of Lerin (Florina in Greek), refer to themselves as “Macedonians” –
“…making up half to three-quarters of any given village’s population.” (Karakasidou,
2000:64.) Now the implications of such research are yet to be fully debated, but on
the basis of all the evidence presented here and other extant documents, it cannot
doubted that there was in inter-war Greece, such a thing as a distinct (non-Greek)
Macedonian ethno-cultural identity. And while we agree that the “fluidity” (the
tendency to change over time or in particular contexts) of ethnic identity, must be
taken into account, we do not support those Greek apologists who try to use the
“fluidity” notion to write ethnic-Macedonians off the face of the earth. As the German
academic, Dr. Christian Voss, commenting on the current situation in Greece and
Bulgaria, explains: “…it is either politically naive, or in support of Greek and
Bulgarian nationalism respectively, to describe minority identity patterns by means of
a one-sided constructionism, underscoring the ‘fluidness’ of Macedonian ethnicity in
Greek Aegean and in Bulgarian Pirin Macedonia.” (See p.186 of his paper: The
Situation of the Slavic Speaking Minority in Greek Macedonia, JGKS, vol.5, 2003,
pp.173-187.)
Indeed, those authors who try to ‘protect’ Macedonians from elite essentialist
reification, in both recent history and the present (there can be no question that part of
the story of ethnicity construction, is about elites mobilising masses for the
maintenance and expansion of their power and wealth), forget that the development
and maintenance of a distinct ethnic-Macedonian identity, was to a significant extent,
a response to the discriminatory reifications of the Greek state (and the Serbian and
Bulgarian states, for that matter, both after and prior to the 1912 partition). As we
have been documenting, these discriminatory reifications have resulted in serious
emotional and physical harm and in Greece (and Bulgaria for that matter) at the
present, they are still maintained, as we document further below. They are an
important part of the historical memory of modern ethnic-Macedonians. Thus ethnic-
Macedonian identity, especially in Greece, while also involving essentialist reifying,
as all such group identities do, can to an important level, be seen as a counter
reification to the often cruel and lethal homogenising efforts of the Greek state.
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Macedonians were essentialised and reified in the homogenising process, as
undesirable others – mostly by the label, “Slavophones” (see for example, Carabott,
2003:142-144). A distinct Macedonian identity, from this perspective and in the
context of Greece (a country that denies the existence of any minorities within its
borders), can be viewed as something that does not negate, but contributes to diversity
and if you like, democracy. (On the development of modern Macedonian identity, see
the papers by Professor Victor Friedman of the University of Chicago: Macedonian
Language and Nationalism During the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century in
Balkanstica, 1975, no.2, pp.83-95 and The Modern Macedonian Standard Language
and Its Relation to Modern Macedonian Identity in Victor Roudometof, ed., The
Macedonian Question, East European Monographs, Boulder, 2000, pp.173-206;
Danforth’s, The Macedonian Conflict, cited above; and a paper by Professor Horace
Lunt of Harvard University, Some Sociolinguistic Aspects of Macedonian and
Bulgarian in B. Stolz et al, ed. Language and Literary Theory, Ann Arbor, The
University of Michigan, 1984, pp.83-122. For a focus on identity development in the
Republic of Macedonia see the work of the Anthropologist Keith Brown, The Past in
Question, Princeton University Press, 2003 and a paper by H.R.Wilkinson, Jugoslav
Macedonia in Transition, Geographical Journal, vol.CXVIII part 4, December 1952,
pp.389-405.)
The mention of diversity connects to the issue of group identity in Modernity in a way
that moves somewhat beyond the bounds of matters to do with elite reifications. To
begin with, group identity, as was noted by social philosophers long ago, is
paradoxically based on both the attractions of similarity and difference. This complex
dialectic creates culture; existential meaning, for the inhabitants of the groups (and we
are all, more or less, involved in groups). Thus it is not diversity for its ‘own sake’ as
some critics of the notion, like to suggest. The revival of ancient names, in the
construction of Modern ethnic groups can be seen as part of the Romanticism (which
has always been a significant aspect of Modern culture) that has often been called
upon as an enchanting (see the work of Max Weber) response to the mundane or
disenchanting, for many, calculative rationalism of Modernity. The pursuit of rational
mastery of the world, which is another key aspect of Modern culture, creates constant
instability and change (popular among social philosophers is the notion of Modernity
as accelerated “creative-destruction”); alienation and anonymity; and the use of
ancient names in the creation of group identities helps many moderns create the
feeling (it may be an illusion, but that does not appear to make it any less useful or
less necessary) of some stability, magical continuity and connection to a wider
humanity. This does not necessarily need to involve excessive exploitation and
discrimination; it can and often is, celebrated in very amicable and positive ways.
Though in places where it has become abusive, we are obliged to resist. (For more on
this perspective of reification, see the classic work of the social philosopher Georg
Simmel, in a 1990 Routledge re-print of his foundational for Sociology, The
Philosophy of Money, 1900.)
VI Repression and Persecution Continues in the Inter-War Years
Between the years of 1926-1940, the Greek state implemented and ruthlessly enforced
a form of symbolic ethno-cultural cleansing. All place (Decree no.332 of 1926) and
personal names (Law no.87 of 1936) in Aegean Macedonia were made Greek. Protest
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was useless and would merely result in further punishment. (The ban on Macedonian
names has persisted to the present.) This was accompanied by the defacing and
“Hellenising” of churches in Macedonia. The Greek language was imposed in all
areas of public life and the Macedonian language was derided as barbaric and not
worthy of a civilised people. (See the report entitled, Denying Ethnic Identity: The
Macedonians of Greece; prepared by the well known human rights NGO, Human
Rights Watch/Helsinki, New York and London, 1994, pp.6-7; and see also another
paper by the Greek Anthropologist, Karakasidou: Women of the Family, Women of
the Nation, p.100 in Ourselves and Others, Mackridge and Yannakis, ed. Berg,
Oxford 1997.)
During the ultra-nationalist dictatorship (1936-1940) of General Metaxas in Greece,
the mistreatment of Macedonians was further stepped up. Laws were enacted that then
not only banned the speaking of Macedonian in public, but also in private.
(Karakasidou, 2000: 77.) The punishments for breaking these highly bigoted and cruel
laws (most Macedonians did not know how to speak Greek) involved steep fines,
beatings, the forced ingestion of castor oil and or imprisonment. In many cases, to pay
the fines, farmers had to sell their means of livelihood – i.e. their livestock.
(Karakasidou, 2000:77 and Human Rights Watch, 1994:7-8.) More than 5,000
Macedonians from the County of Lerin (Florina) alone were jailed for breaking these
language laws. (Human Rights Watch, 1994:7.)
VII World War Two and the Greek Civil War 1946-1949
During this period, many local and ethnic Macedonians eventually joined the Greek
communist (KKE) led National Liberation Front (EAM) and its military wing, the
National Popular Liberation Army (ELAS). (Human Rights Watch, 1994:8 and
Karakasidou, 2000:77-78.) It is not surprising that they did so – after all they had
endured at the hands of the Greek state since 1912, many of them probably felt that
serious change was necessary. Moreover, as Karakasidou points out, during the Axis
occupation, many of them suffered harshly at the hands of Greek nationalist forces.
(Karakasidou, 2000:78.)
When the Greek Civil War began in 1946 (fought between the Communist forces of
the KKE and the British-installed, Western-styled Greek government forces), the
hardships of Macedonians increased, as almost all the fighting took place in Aegean
Macedonia. Estimates of how many were killed are dubious, though they certainly ran
in to the tens of thousands. By the war’s end in 1949 and with victory gained by the
government forces, tens of thousands of local Macedonians (and of course Greeks
too) had fled the country for their safety – whether they were part of the Communist
forces or not. Estimates are again unreliable; they range from 35,000 to over 200,000.
(Human Rights Watch, 1994:8 and for a more detailed analysis, see the paper by Dr.
Riki van Boeschoten: “Unity and Brotherhood”? Macedonian Political Refugees in
Eastern Europe, in JGKS, vol.5 2003, pp.189-193.)
Notably, those who fled Greece for their safety (not least because of the incessant
aerial bombing of Macedonian villages), again, whether they actually fought against
the government or not, were deprived of their citizenship and property. (Human
Rights Watch, 1994:8 and 27.) To quote the Human Rights Watch report: “Among
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those stripped of their citizenship were families – wives, children, other relatives – of
Macedonians who had fought with the Partisans. No individual hearings were held as
to the actions of family members or, in fact of Partisans themselves. All were stripped
of citizenship without the internationally accepted rights to due process: the
presumption of innocence; notice of the charges; a fair hearing before an independent
and impartial tribunal; opportunity to defend oneself, including the right to confront
witnesses and to present witnesses on one’s own behalf and legal representation.”
(Human Rights Watch, 1994:27.)
Also noteworthy is that over 10,000 Macedonian children (there were Greek children
too; and although some estimates of the Macedonian children are much higher, this
figure is a safe minimum, see van Boeschoten, 2003:190-193) were during the course
of the civil war, smuggled across the Greek borders and housed in Eastern-bloc
countries – again, this was done because of the bombing of villages. In most cases,
they have not been permitted to return. However, in a 1982 twist, a Greek Ministerial
decree provided that “all Greeks by genus [i.e. of Greek origin] who during the civil
war of 1946-49 and because of it have fled abroad as political refugees may return to
Greece, in spite [of the fact] that Greek citizenship has been taken away from them.”
(Human Rights Watch, 1994: 9.) Moreover, in 1985, a law was enacted that permitted
political refugees who were “Greek by origin” to reclaim their property and thus
again, ethnic Macedonians were and remain, excluded. (Human Rights Watch, 1994:
9.) “Human Rights Watch has been unable to obtain accurate figures on the number
of people ‘of Greek origin’ who availed themselves of the 1982 law, but the number is
in the thousands. Those who considered themselves Macedonians, although born in
Greece, or children of parents born in Greece, were not permitted to return, even, for
the most part, to visit. … To this day, ethnic Macedonian families are divided…” by
the Greek authorities. (Human Rights Watch, 1994: 9-10.) At present a class action
against Greece is being prepared in the Republic of Macedonia by Macedonian
political refugees from Greece and their descendants for the return of their properties
and restoration of Greek citizenship.
VIII The Post War Period
For those ethnic-Macedonians who managed to remain in Aegean Macedonia after the
war, discrimination continued. Indicative of the situation, is the example given by
Human Rights Watch of the introduction of “language oaths”. The Greek authorities,
in 1959, administered in several Macedonian villages, “language oaths” – “which
required Macedonians to swear that they would renounce their ‘Slavic’ dialect and
from then on speak only Greek.” (Human Rights Watch, 1994: 7-8.) During the
1960s, free education was introduced in Greece but the discrimination faced by
Macedonians “…in their quest for employment…left many sharply alienated.”
(Karakasidou, 2000:80.)
From 1967-1974, Greece came under the dictatorship of an ultra-nationalist military
junta and this explains another upsurge in discrimination against Macedonians.
(Karakasidou, 2000: 81.) This was combined with a continued policy of economic
underdevelopment for areas inhabited by ethnic-Macedonians (Karakasidou, 2000:82)
– with the hope no doubt, of speeding up their emigration. Lastly, during this period,
the church “re-emerged as a strong nationalist force, and a new puritan Bishop,
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Kandiotis, was appointed Metropolitan of Florina and began to cultivate Greek
Orthodox fundamentalism.” (Karakasidou, 2000: 81.) After the junta some
improvement in the treatment of Macedonians resulted, but in general, the
discrimination has remained. We shall document this further below.
Since 1995, when it was formed (after having to utilise the European courts in order
to get itself officially registered in Greece), the Macedonian political party,
Vinozhito- Rainbow, which has its seat in Lerin (Florina), has been active in leading
the struggle of the Macedonians in Greece for respect of their basic human rights by
the Greek State. Its leaders have been prosecuted and on 7 September 1995 their
offices burnt and ransacked by far-right Greek nationalists. Presently, some of its
leaders face the possibility of prosecution on charges of state treason for maintaining
that Macedonian is spoken in Greece.Another important activist is Archimandrite
Nikodim Tsarknias, who has been active in defending the religious and human rights
of the Macedonians. Tsarknias who is an ordained priest of the Macedonian Orthodox
Church has repeatedly over the years been prosecuted on charges of “impersonating
an Orthodox priest”.
IX In Summary
Greece denies its Macedonian minority the enjoyment of those fundamental human
rights contained in major international and European human rights agreements and
covenants. The Greek state refuses even to recognise the very existence of ethnic
Macedonians and instead refers to them as “Slavophone Greeks”. Ethnic
Macedonians are forbidden from using the term Macedonia in the name of
organizations, associations or businesses that they may care to register. For example,
as already mentioned earlier, the Home of Macedonian Culture in Lerin (Florina),
which the European Court of Human Rights has ordered Greece to register in several
decisions over the last 10 years, still remains unregistered by the Greek authorities.
There is no education at any level in the Macedonian language and no radio and
television programs or print media in Macedonian. There is no state funding for
Macedonian cultural activities. Ethnic Macedonians who openly proclaim themselves
to be Macedonians are subjected to discrimination in employment and education as
well as social ostracism. Macedonians are not permitted to use their Macedonian fore
and surnames officially and those Macedonians who attempt to officially reclaim their
Macedonian names are routinely denied permission to do so. The Greek authorities
maintain a black list of Macedonians abroad-both activists and non-activists who
simply identify as Macedonians and who may originate from Aegean Macedonia-and
routinely deny such people entry to Greece. Macedonians who originate in Greece
have also been deprived of their Greek citizenship, often without being informed of
the decision or having any right to appeal, which affects their ability to claim or
dispose of property they may own in Greece. One of the goals of such repressive
measures is to prevent contact between Macedonians abroad and those in Greece so
that the forcible Hellenization of Macedonians in Greece can continue unabated.
Lastly, it is difficult to estimate the number of ethnic Macedonians in Greece, as the
Greek state still completely denies the existence of a Macedonian minority and does
not include statistics on ethnic minorities in its census, however estimates range from
50,000 to 300,000.
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X Current Human Rights Abuses in Documented Detail
Professor Miller opens his letter by claiming that the recognition of the Republic of
Macedonia by the former US administration has somehow “abrogated geographic
and historic fact”. What the Professor of Graeco-Roman antiquity seems to
fundamentally miss is that it is the state of Greece that abrogates the facts over the
existence of the ethnic Macedonian minority living in present day Greece. Whilst the
Professor of Graeco-Roman antiquity immerses himself in a purposive interpretation
of the ancients, conveniently but at the same time, he also suspiciously draws absurd
connections between peoples that lived some 2,500 years ago and modern national
identities. What he seems to be incapable of recognizing is that his slavish
acquiescence to ancient history at the same time dispenses with the apparent
awkwardness (for Greece, but obviously also for Professor Miller) of exigent
circumstances. Namely the continuing human rights violations perpetrated by his
beloved “Greece” against its ethnic Macedonian minority. To borrow from Levi,
Professor Miller’s blind capitulation to ancient relationships seems to fundamentally
confuse the modern day perpetrators with the victims, and to do so is a “moral disease
or an aesthetic affectation or a sinister sign of complicity; above all, it is precious
service rendered … to the negators of truth.” (Primo Levi, The Drowned and the
Saved, (first published 1988), Abacus, London, 1989, p.33.)
Greece’s appalling human rights record against its ethnic Macedonian minority is well
documented. How does Professor Miller suggest Graeco-Roman antiquity can
overcome these actual modern day problems? Does he suggest that the ancient
practice of conquest and pillage is the answer? (Actually he does, as we demonstrate
further down!) Is Professor Miller opposed to human rights? Or is he simply opposed
to the human rights of ethnic Macedonians? Let’s look at what actual demonstrable
evidence tells us.
The essence of the protection of minorities has been well defined since the Permanent
Court of International Justice delivered its Advisory Opinion on Minority Schools in
Albania Case, handed down on 6 April 1935. The Court stated that minorities have
the right to full equality with the majority and to the preservation of their separate
identities. The Opinion reads as follows:
“The idea underlying the treaties for the protection of minorities is to secure for
certain elements incorporated in a State, the population of which differs from
them in race, language or religion, the possibility of living peaceably alongside
that population and co-operating amicably with it, while at the same time
preserving the characteristics which distinguish them from the majority.”
Subsequently, the International Court of Justice made it clear in the South West Africa
Cases that any distinction on a racial basis is contrary to the principle of equality.
(South West Africa Cases (Ethiopia v South Africa, Liberia v South Africa) (Second
Phase) ICJ Rep 1966 6, Judgement of 18 July 1966, 317). Today, various
international human rights law documents exist that contain specific provisions
concerned with minorities and that place obligations on states to recognise the rights
of minority groups living within their borders, importantly without distinction of any
kind. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is a
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binding document of substantive and precise human rights principles states clearly
under Article 27 that: “in those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic
minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right …
to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their
own language”’ Article 27 is a statement that is essential to the defence of minority
identity, therefore it also reflects a ‘right to an identity’. The UN Human Rights
Committee determined that even though “the rights protected … are individual rights,
they depend in turn on the ability of the minority group to maintain its culture,
language and religion.”
Accordingly, the UN Human Rights Committee has clarified under General Comment
23 that “positive measures by the States are also necessary to protect the identity of a
minority and the rights of its members to enjoy and develop their culture … in
community with other members of the group.” Greece ratified and acceded to the
ICCPR on 5 August 1997. Article 27 has also inspired the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic
Minorities, which establishes standards to which member states of the United Nations
should aspire. At the outset, Article 1 asserts that:
“States shall protect the existence and the national or ethnic … identity of
minorities … and shall encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to Greece, there seems to be no such prospects.
Recently the UN independent expert on minority issues reported how some of the
ethnic Macedonians in Greece have:
“…described pressure not to display their Macedonian identity or speak
Macedonian, previously banned in some villages. Despite their claim of the
existence of distinct Macedonian villages, they described a general fear to
demonstrate their identity. It was acknowledged that the situation had improved
from a previous era, however they described a “softer discrimination”
manifested in general hostility and pressure on the part of authorities and the
media. One participant stated: “I am a Greek citizen…but I am Macedonian
when talking about my village, my language and my identity.” (Promotion and
Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, including the right to Development’, Report of the independent expert
on minority issues, Gay McDougall, Addendum Mission to Greece, (8-16
September 2008), A/HRC/10/11/Add.3, 18 February 2009, para. 46).
“Some recounted personal experiences of harassment including aggressive
interrogation at borders. Another described being physically attacked allegedly
due to his ethnic identity and membership of the Rainbow party. Another
representative stated: “Greece does not trust the people who live here because
they don’t feel Greek – they don’t speak Greek”. Participants described
experiencing problems in performing songs in the Macedonian language and
traditional dances …” (UN independent expert on minority issues, para. 47).
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe has equally expressed
that he “remains deeply concerned about the persistent denial by Greek authorities of
the existence on Greece’s territory of minorities.” (Commissioner for Human Rights,
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REPORT by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council
of Europe Following his visit to Greece on 8-10 December 2008, Strasbourg, 19
February 2009, para. 40). These concerns are neither new nor original. A fact finding
mission conducted in Northern Greece during July 1993 by the Danish Helsinki
Committee, Minority Rights Group-Greece and Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
concluded early on that:
“ … the Greek government has denied the ethnic identity of the ethnic
Macedonian minority in violation of international human rights laws and
agreements. This is evidenced by open statements by Greek officials; by the
government’s denial of the existence of a Macedonian language; by the
government’s refusal to permit a “Center of Macedonian Culture”; and by the
government’s refusal in the recent past to permit the performance of
Macedonian songs and dances;
… freedom of expression is restricted for ethnic Macedonians in violation of
international human rights laws. Some rights activists have been prosecuted
and convicted for the peaceful expression of their views …
… the Greek government discriminates against the ethnic Macedonian minority
in violation of international laws and agreements to which it is a party;

… ethnic Macedonians, and particularly Macedonian rights activists, are
harassed by the government, followed and threatened by security forces, and
subjected to economic and social pressures resulting from government
harassment; this has led to a marked climate of fear in which many ethnic
Macedonians are reluctant to assert their Macedonian identity or to express
their view openly.” (Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Denying Ethnic Identity:
The Macedonians of Greece, New York, 1994, pp. 2-3).
Greece, as a member state of the EU since 1981, also has human rights obligations
that begin with the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe. Some of the basic
values expressed in this document include “respect for human dignity … equality …
respect for human rights … non-discrimination, tolerance [and] justice.” (Treaty
Establishing a Constitution for Europe, Preamble, Part I, Title I Definition and
Objectives of the Union, Article 1-2, The Union’s Values). Respect for human
dignity, equality, human rights, non-discrimination, tolerance and justice is not merely
an empty rhetorical promise. Indeed Greece signalled its intent to support such
concepts when its parliament unanimously (268-17) ratified the EU Constitution on
19 April 2005.
The EU has recently moved to enshrine such standards in a type of Bill of Rights for
the EU, known as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This is
an unambiguous human rights instrument that has been incorporated within the EU
Constitution itself. (See amendments made to the Treaty on European Union in the
Amsterdam Treaty of 1999). The Preamble of this document outlines in clear terms its
overriding context when it declares “human dignity … [and] … equality” as part of its
most fundamental values. More importantly it firmly declares its regard for the rights
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espoused in “international obligations common to the Member States, the Treaty
[itself] … the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms, (a Council of Europe document) and the case-law” evolving
from the judicial organs of these European institutions. (Charter of Fundamental
Rights of the European Union, (2000/C, 364/01), Preamble).
Chapter III of the European Charter deals with the issue of equality. Article 20
declares that ‘everyone is equal before the law’ and Article 21 asserts that “any
discrimination based on any ground such as … ethnic … origin … political or any
other opinion, membership of a national minority [and/or] property … shall be
prohibited.” (Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, (2000/C,
364/01), Chapter III, ‘Equality’, Article 20 & 21). Article 52(3) of the Charter
provides for the common application of corresponding rights in the Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention)
in both meaning and scope. Greece itself ratified this convention on 28 November
1974.
The European Convention has an extensive array of protections afforded to
individuals. Article 8 asserts that “Everyone has the right to respect for his … family
life [and] his home.”’ The provision goes on to assert that “there shall be no
interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in
accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of
national security…[and]…public safety.” (European Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, (1950) (entered into force 3 September
1953) as amended by Protocol No 11 (1998), (entered into force 1 November 1998),
Article 8(1) & (2)). Article 9 provides that “everyone has the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion”, under Article 10, freedom of expression and under
Article 11 the freedom of assembly and association.
Notably, Greece has been found to be in violation of the provisions in the European
Convention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on many occasions.
This has not gone unnoticed by various international human rights monitors. For
Example, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance excoriated
Greece in this regard:
“ … persons wishing to express their Macedonian, Turkish or other identity
incur the hostility of the population. They are targets of prejudices and
stereotypes, and sometimes face discrimination, especially in the labour market.
In the Sidiropoulos and others v. Greece judgment of 10 July 1998, the
European Court of Human Rights found that the refusal to register the
association “Home of Macedonian Civilisation” constituted an interference
with the freedom of association as guaranteed by Article 11 of the European
Convention on Human Rights. ECRI deplores the fact that, five years after the
decision of the European Court of Human Rights, this association has still not
been registered despite the repeated applications made by its members.” (See
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, Third Report on Greece,
Adopted on 5 December 2003, CRI (2004) 24, Strasbourg, 8 June 2004, para.
81).
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The recent Report of the United Nations independent expert on minority issues notes
that “subsequent [Greek] domestic court decisions have failed to conform to the
European Court finding and the Home of Macedonian Culture remains unregistered.”
(UN independent expert on minority issues, para. 43). In the recent ECHR case of
Vinozhito and Others v. Greece (2005), the Court again found Greece in violation of
the European Convention, specifically Article 6(1), which provides for a right to a fair
trial and Article 11, a right to freedom of assembly. The case concerned the vandalism
perpetrated on the office of Vinozhito in 1995 by a violent mob and the nonintervention
of the local Greek police. Vinozhito is a political party representing the
ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece. In bringing its decision, the Court stated that:
“ … two days before the incidents, the local authorities clearly incited the
population of the town of Florina [Lerin] to protests against the applicants in
which some of their members took part … thus [contributing] by their
behaviour to provoke the hostile feelings of part of the population with regard
to the applicants [Vinozhito]. The Court considers that the authorities of the
State [Greece] are supposed to defend and promote the intrinsic values with a
democratic system, such as pluralism, the tolerance and social cohesion.”
Not surprisingly, yet another report, this time by the Commissioner for Human Rights
of the Council of Europe noted “with particular concern that the Greek authorities’
refusal to recognise the existence of any other kind of minority apart from the
‘Muslim’ one has led in fact to a number of applications before the European Court
of Human Rights, especially concerning minority members” right to freedom of
association, as provided for by Article 11 of the European Convention.
(Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, para. 16). Moreover, the
Commissioner made a point of recalling that “freedom of ethnic self-identification is a
major principle in which democratic pluralistic societies should be grounded and
should be effectively applied to all minority groups, be they national, religious or
linguistic.” (Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, para. 42). He
went further and stated that “as regards in particular freedom of association, the
great importance for democracy of the freedom of establishment and functioning of
associations “seeking an ethnic identity or asserting a minority consciousness” has
been emphasised by the European Court of Human Rights.” (Commissioner for
Human Rights of the Council of Europe, para. 48).
Protocol No 1 to the European Convention adds under Article 1, which deals with the
protection of property that “no one shall be deprived of his possessions”. (Protocol
No 1 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms: protection of property, education, free elections (1952),
(entered into force 18 May 1954), Article 1). These provisions should be read
alongside Article 14, which asserts that these rights “shall be secured without
discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property,
birth or other status.’ It is interesting to note that ‘in a number of spheres Greek law
draws a distinction between non-citizens of Greek origin (sometimes called
“homogeneis”) and non-citizens of another origin (sometimes called “allogeneis”).
This difference in treatment generally takes the form of a privileged status for persons
of Greek origin.” (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, para. 60).
This cannot be dismissed as of no consequence. A blatant example of its
- 21 -
discriminatory effect is the introduction of Ministerial Decree number 106841, which
announced the relevant passages to the stipulations of Law no. 400/76, providing that:
“Free to return to Greece are all Greeks by genus, who during the Civil War of
1946-1949 and because of it have fled abroad as political refugees, in spite that
the Greek citizenship has been taken away from them.” (Official Gazzettier of
the Government of the Republic of Greece, Part Two, Ministerial Decrees and
Approvals, No. 106841, ‘Free repatriation and return to Greek citizenship of the
political refugees’, Athens, 5 January 1983, p.1).
As the UN independent expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall reports, “this
decision excludes those identifying as ethnic Macedonians and is therefore considered
discriminatory.” (UN Independent expert on minority issues, para. 44). Similarly,
Law no. 1540 was subsequently introduced making provision for the return of
confiscated properties to political emigrants, read political refugees. The wording
used in the legislation was again unjustly circumspect. It defines political emigrants
for whom the law shall have application as “Greeks by genus, who, because of the
Civil War, had fled abroad.”’ (Official Gazzettier of the Government of the Republic
of Greece, Volume One, Law No. 1540, Provisions Concerning the Properties of the
Political Emigrants and Other Regulations, Athens, 10 April 1985, No. 67). As the
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance notes, “this regulation applied
solely to persons “of Greek origin”, thus excluding persons of non-Greek, and
particularly Macedonian, origin who had nonetheless left Greece under the same
conditions.” (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, para. 61).
Yet another minority rights document, not ratified by Greece, is the UNESCO
Convention Against Discrimination in Education (1960). Article 5.1(C) provides that
“it is essential to recognise the right of members of national minorities to carry on
their own educational activities.” The UN Independent expert on minority issues also
raises this issue with Greece, noting that she:
“ … met numerous individuals identifying as ethnic Macedonian. Some
described themselves as fluent in the Macedonian language, having learned it
within their families as it is not taught at school. Others described frustration
that they lack fluency due to the lack of learning opportunities. They claim to
have made numerous approaches to the Greek Ministry of Education regarding
language education, which have never been acknowledged.” (UN Independent
expert on minority issues, para. 45).
The UN independent expert on minority issues takes up the point further:
“Successive governments have pursued a policy of denial of the ethnic
Macedonian community and the Macedonian language … The response of
earlier Greek governments was to suppress any use of the Macedonian
language and cultural activities. In recent times the harsh tactics have ceased
but those identifying as ethnic Macedonian still report discrimination and
harassment. They consider it of crucial importance for their continued existence
that their ethnic identity and distinctiveness is respected. The Macedonian
language is not recognized, taught, or a language of tuition in schools.” (UN
Independent expert on minority issues, para. 41).
- 22 -
Moreover the report did not neglect historical aspects of the denial of the existence of
ethnic Macedonians in Greece. It well notes the symbolic ethnic cleansing of ethnic
Macedonians by the Greek state in the early half of the 20th. Century: “In the 1920s
and 30s laws required the replacement of non-Greek names of towns, villages, rivers
and mountains with Greek names. The family names of the Macedonian speaking
population were also required to be changed to Greek names. Individuals seeking to
re-instate Macedonian family names have had their petitions refused by authorities on
administrative grounds. Community representatives note that traditional names
continue to be in common usage and call for reinstatement and the official usage of a
dual nomenclature e.g. Florina/Lerin” (UN Independent expert on minority issues,
para. 42).
Similarly in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 30 states that
“in those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities … exist, a child
belonging to such a minority … shall not be denied the right, in community with other
members of his or her group” to enjoy their cultural, religious and linguistic rights as
a minority.
The OSCE is another forum in which various human rights standards are advocated.
Greece signed the Helsinki Final Act on 1 August 1975. This instrument spells out
explicitly its respect for “human rights and fundamental freedoms … for all without
distinction.” Moreover, it forcefully advances the proposition that people belonging to
national minorities have a right to equality before the law. (Helsinki Final Act 1975,
Part VII. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom
of thought, conscience, religion or belief). Similarly, the Charter of Paris, (which
Greece signed on 21 November 1990), affirms the freedom of movement for people
without discrimination. Indeed “ethnic … minorities will be protected … [and will
have the right to] … develop that identity without any discrimination and in full
equality before the law.” (Charter of Paris for a New Europe, Human Rights,
Democracy and the Rule of Law, 21 November 1990. See also subsection on ‘Human
Dimension’ – States party, which includes Greece, declare respect for human rights
and fundamental freedoms to be irrevocable and acknowledge that the rights of
persons belonging to national minorities must be fully respected as part of universal
human rights.) The Copenhagen Document adopted in 1990 as part of OSCE
proceedings states clearly that;
“To belong to a national minority is a matter of a person’s individual choice
and no disadvantage may arise from the exercise of such choice. [These]
persons … have the right freely to express, preserve and develop their ethnic
cultural, linguistic or religious identity and to maintain and develop their
culture in all aspects, free of any attempts at assimilation against their will.”
(Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, Copenhagen Document,
(1990), para. 32).
The above underpins a group’s right to “establish and maintain unimpeded contacts
among themselves within their country as well as contacts across frontiers with
citizens of other States with whom they share a common ethnic or national origin [or]
cultural heritage.” (para. 32, Section 4). Other human rights instruments that Greece
has simply refused to ratify are the European Charter for Regional and Minority
- 23 -
Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
The latter is an instrument that seeks to ensure the respect for the right of every person
belonging to a national minority to freedom of peaceful assembly, association,
expression, thought, conscience and religion, (Article 7), the right to manifest their
religion, (Article 8), and to hold opinions and impart information and ideas in the
minority language, (Article 9). The European Commission against Racism and
Intolerance has strongly recommended that “the Greek authorities ratify as soon as
possible the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.”
(European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, para. 5). Similar requests
have been made by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe,
calling on “the Greek authorities to proceed promptly to the ratification of or
accession to certain major Council of Europe treaties, such as the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Convention on
Nationality and the Fourth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.”
(Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Part III).
Not surprisingly, there are modern day rules under international law that are
specifically concerned with the recognition and protection of minority groups – today.
The fact is that Greece has consistently contravened the treaties it is a party to, and
has simply refused to ratify and implement several others. As Minority Rights Group
declares, “there is no question that the Greek state’s human rights record is in
violation of the many international conventions it has ratified, i.e. the various [OSCE]
documents on the human dimension, the Council of Europe’s human rights
conventions, and the UN human rights conventions … Greece is behind all other
European Union and West European countries.” (MRG-Greece, Report: The
Southern Balkans, Minority Rights Group, London, 1994, p.19).
How does the Professor of Graeco-Roman antiquity reconcile with these
contemporary norms and standards? Perhaps he too, along with Greece, should take
note of what the authorities on human rights recommend, such as to “acknowledge the
existence in Greece of an ethnic Macedonian minority with its own culture and
language; end free expression restrictions on ethnic Macedonians … [and]. … end
harassment of ethnic Macedonians in general, and of Macedonian rights monitors in
particular.” (Human Rights Watch, p.61). It is worth finishing with Gay McDougall,
the UN independent expert on minority issues, who encapsulates the problem of
Greece in her detailed recommendations. Something the Professor of Graeco-Roman
antiquity should also read:
“81. The Greek government’s interpretation of the term “minorities” is too
restrictive to meet current standards: it focuses on the historical understanding
of “national minorities” created by the dissolution of empires or agreements
concluded at the end of wars; the so-called Minority Treaties. This historical
paradigm limits the definition to those communities identified in specific bilateral
treaties that may also delineate the obligations to the beneficiary
community, in some cases tying those benefits to reciprocal arrangements for
kinship communities in the other state. Treatment of the identified minorities,
therefore, is a matter of inter-state treaty relations. Greece does not recognize
the minority status of other communities, stating that those claims are
unsubstantiated and politically motivated. …
- 24 -
82. One also senses an interest in promoting a singular national identity. This
approach may leave little room for diversity. It can contribute to a climate in
which citizens who wish to freely express their ethnic identities face government
blockages and in some instances, intimidation from other individuals or groups.
In the northern part of the country some people expressed their view that the
term “minority” implies “foreign.” Some consider those who want to identify as
a person belonging to a minority ethnic group to be conspirators against the
interest of the Greek state.

90. The government should retreat from the dispute over whether there is a
Macedonian minority or a Turkish minority and place its full focus on
protecting the rights to self-identification, freedom of expression and freedom of
association of those communities. The Greek government should comply with
the judgments of the European Court on Human Rights that associations should
be allowed to use the words Macedonian or Turkish in their names and to freely
express their ethnic identities. Those associations denied in the past must be
given official registration promptly. Their further rights to minority protections
must be respected as elaborated in the Declaration on Minorities and the core
international human rights treaties.
91. The government should guarantee the right to personal security and
freedom from intimidation or discriminatory actions by private or public actors
on the grounds of the exercise of their right to self-identification.”
So in summary, the mistreatment of ethnic Macedonians in Greece has been well
documented in recent years by respected organizations such as Human Rights Watch
(Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece, 1994), The European
Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI 2004), Minority Rights Group
(MRG 1994), a Council of Europe body which on 8 June 2004 published its third
report on Greece and, most recently, the U.N. report titled “Promotion and Protection
of All Human Rights in Greece” of 18 February 2009 which was prepared by the
U.N.’s expert on minority issues Gay McDougall. One of Ms McDougall’s most
important recommendations is worth noting again, it emphatically states that the
Greek government should “… withdraw from the dispute over whether there is a
Macedonian or Turkish Minority in Greece and focus on protecting the right to selfidentification,
freedom of expression and freedom of association of those
communities. Their rights to minority protections must be honoured in accordance
with the Declaration on Minorities and the core international Human Rights treaties.
Greece should comply fully with the judgements of the European Court of Human
Rights, specifically those decisions that associations should be allowed to use the
words “Macedonian” and “Turkish” in their names and to express their ethnic
identities freely.” (p.2). The case against Greece is simply overwhelming.
XI Miller – The Last of the Distortions and Miller the Proponent of
Annexation!
Professor Miller’s claims that “Skopje’s territorial aspirations” are evidenced by
- 25 -
school maps which in his own words “show the pseudo-greater Macedonia, stretching
from Skopje to Mt. Olympus and labeled in Slavic. The same map and its claims are in
calendars, bumper stickers, bank notes, etc., that have been circulating in the new
state ever since it declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Why would a
poor land-locked new state attempt such historical nonsense? Why would it brazenly
mock and provoke its neighbour? However one might like to characterize such
behavior, it is clearly not a force for historical accuracy, nor for stability in the
Balkans. It is sad that the United States of America has abetted and encouraged such
behavior.”
The evidence he provides for such “irredentist behaviour”, a map of Macedonia which
places the three parts of Macedonia firmly within the Republic of Macedonia, Greece
and Bulgaria and a further one which shows the division of Macedonia after World
War I, hardly qualify as incontrovertible proof that the Republic of Macedonia has
designs on Greek territory. They are simply part of a history lesson. The bank note
which he claims is from 1991 and displays the White Tower of Salonika was not legal
tender and not issued by the Macedonian government. This is quite apparent given
that the note is for the value of One Makedonka, which has never been legal tender in
Macedonia. Macedonia’s official unit of currency until the introduction of the Denar
on 26 April 1992 was the old Yugoslav Dinar. The professor should really do what we
are sure he advises his students to do; his homework.
The fact of the matter which Professor Miller wilfully ignores is that under the Interim
Accord of 13 September 1995 signed by the foreign ministers of Greece and
Macedonia, both sides confirmed their existing frontiers as an enduring and inviolable
international border. They also agreed that they would not support the action of a third
party directed against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence
of the other party. They agreed to refrain from the threat or use of force, including the
threat or use of force designed to violate their existing frontiers, and they agreed that
neither party would assert or support claims to any part of the territory of the other, or
claims for a change of their existing frontier. Furthermore, Macedonia agreed that
nothing in its Constitution, and in particular in the Preamble thereto or in Article 3 of
the Constitution, can or should be interpreted as constituting or will ever constitute the
basis of any claim by it to any territory not within its existing borders. In addition ,
Macedonia agreed that nothing in its Constitution, and in particular in Article 49 as
amended, can or should be interpreted as constituting or will ever constitute the basis
for it to interfere in the internal affairs of another State in order to protect the status
and rights of any persons in other States who are not citizens of Macedonia. Finally
Macedonia agreed to change its flag and stop using the Sun of Kutlesh (Star of
Vergina). (GREECE and THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF
MACEDONIA, Interim Accord (with related letters and translations of the Interim
Accord in the languages of the Contracting Parties). Signed at New York on 13
September 1995 found at:

http://untreaty.un.org/unts/120001_144071/6/3/00004456.pdf).

When one considers the above and the obvious disparity in economic and military
power between the two countries, it is apparent that any accusations that the Republic
of Macedonia has irredentist designs on Greek territory have no basis in fact.
- 26 -
Despite Greece’s vehement objections over 120 countries, including UN Security
Council members USA, Russia, China and the UK, have recognised Macedonia as the
Republic of Macedonia. None of them has voiced the concern that the name Republic
of Macedonia is an attempt to usurp Greek history. Nor did Greece up until 1988, as
evidenced by the fact that it had a consulate in the then Socialist Republic of
Macedonia which regularly addressed correspondence to the Socialist Republic of
Macedonia.
Despite Professor Miller’s protestations that he is solely concerned with the historical
truth and that “Our common international society cannot survive when history is
ignored, much less when history is fabricated”, his resolution of the question of the
use of the name Macedonia, as detailed in his letter (apparently unpublished by the
magazine) of 22 January 2009 to the editor of the Archaeology Magazine, which is
published in Long Island City, New York reveals that far from the Republic of
Macedonia harbouring irredentist ambitions on Greek territory, it is the good
professor himself who sees annexation as the solution to “Paionia’s mocking and
provocation of its neighbour”.
In that letter Professor Miller states explicitly: “Allow me to end this exegesis by
making a suggestion to resolve the question of the modern use of the name
“Macedonia.” Greece should annex Paionia – that is what Philip II did in 359 B.C.
And that would appear to be acceptable to the modern residents of that area since
they claim to be Greek by appropriating the name Macedonia and its most famous
man. Then the modern people of this new Greek province could work on learning to
speak and read and write Greek, hopefully even as well as Alexander did.
( http://www.panmacedonian.info/Archaeology+Miller.htm)
There we are, Professor (or should it be Warrior?) Miller, the proponent of annexation
- Greece should simply invade the Republic of Macedonia. Bravo Professor,
Alexander the Macedonian and his father Philip II would have been proud of you.
What we now need to know is whether your co-signatories are also proud of your
malicious intentions?
Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI)
###
Founded in 1984, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) has been working
towards achieving human rights for Macedonians and other oppressed minorities. For more
information, please visit http://www.macedonianhr.org.au, or contact AMHRC at +61 3 9460 2910, or
mail@macedonianhr.org.au.
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national
rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information, please
visit http://www.mhrmi.org, or contact MHRMI at 416-850-7125, or info@mhrmi.org.

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