Macedonia Soccer Movie Kicks Off Controversy September 26, 2012Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria, Human rights, Human rights abuses, Israel, Macedonia.
Tags: Bulgaria, Israel, Jewish, Jews, Macedonia, Nazi, the third half, Third reich
add a comment
The gripping story of how some local footballers paid the ultimate price for having the temerity to thrash a Nazi soccer team has become a source of national pride in Ukraine.
It’s such an enthralling story that it has easily lent itself to movie adaptations — inspiring a number of films such as “Escape to Victory” starring Sylvester Stallone as well as the controversial “The Match,” which sparked a major controversy ahead of the Euro 2012 finals, which Ukraine co-hosted. .
Now, a Macedonian filmmaker has given the cinematic treatment to one of his country’s most venerated soccer stories, which has also sparked a row.
Playing in the Bulgarian league at a time when Macedonia didn’t officially exist, and coached by Jewish trainer Illes Spitz, this team defied all the odds to reach the Bulgarian national league final of 1942.
Mitrevski’s movie is essentially a love story based on the life experience of Macedonian Holocaust survivor Neta Cohen.
“The Third Half” depicts how a young Jewish girl from an affluent family defies her parents by dating a poor Macedonian football player. But their love overcomes this parental hostility and even saves the girl’s life because she manages to escape being deported to Treblinka by eloping with her boyfriend.
With high production values and a classic Romeo-and-Juliet plotline set against the tumultuous backdrop of World War II, the film has every chance of being well received internationally.
It’s not surprising therefore, that “The Third Half” has already been nominated as the Macedonian entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar.
WATCH: International trailer for “The Third Half”
In neighboring Bulgaria, however, the film has sparked outrage, with many saying that it paints a skewed picture of the deportation of Macedonian Jews to Nazi death camps.
Late last year, three Bulgarian members of the European Parliament called on the European commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Fuele, to censure Skopje for the movie, which they said was an “attempt to manipulate Balkan history” and “spread hate.”
Bulgaria has often been praised for refusing to deport its Jews to its ally Germany in World War II. Nonetheless, it did deport Macedonian Jews after it occupied the region following the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1941.
According to Balkaninsight.com, only 2 percent of Jews from Macedonia survived the Holocaust and some historians have intimated that Bulgaria handed them over to appease the Germans for protecting their own Jewish population from the Nazis.
Mitrevski has denounced the Bulgarian allegations, which he described as “foolish reactions.” He has also slammed the use of what he calls “Goebbels-like production machinery” to deny Bulgaria’s role in the Holocaust.
Old Sense Of Injustice
Ironically, despite the heated debate surrounding the movie, the real controversy for most hard-core football fans has nothing to do with historical accuracy.
For Macedonian soccer supporters, the film has reawakened an old sense of injustice because they believe FC Macedonia was robbed of the Bulgarian championship in 1942.
To this day, there are many people who still feel that the Skopje club was denied victory in the league final against Levski Sofia because of biased decision-making by referees who had conspired to ensure that a “non-Bulgarian” team would not win the national championship.
In 2010, FC Macedonia’s last surviving member, goalkeeper Vasil Dilev, indicated that there was no doubt his team were by far the better footballing side, thanks to the tutelage of the legendary Spitz.
“There are no more coaches like that,” he said. “He turned Macedonia into a club that made the whole of Bulgaria shiver.”
WATCH: Interview with FC Macedonia goalkeeper Vasil Dilev
Tags: Athens, Bati Trakya, DEP, Milliyet, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Thrace, Turkish Prime Minister
1 comment so far
Greek newspapers have accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of provocation after Erdoğan referred to the Turks in western Thrace as the “Turkish minority,” daily Milliyet reported today.Erdoğan sent a congratulatory message to the Fraternity, Equality and Peace Party (DEP) in Greece to mark the 21st anniversary of the party, which was founded by members of the minority community there.
“Our kin in western Thrace has always had a special place in our hearts,” Erdoğan said in his message. “That is why it is very important that our kin exercises their rights, which have been guaranteed by international agreements, to their full extent.”
“We will always stand by the Turkish minority in western Thrace, as we have done up to this day,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish prime minister also expressed his hope that the minority in western Thrace and the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey would serve as “a bridge of friendship” between the two countries.
The Greek Foreign Ministry responded to Erdoğan’s message saying there was no such thing as a “Turkish minority” in the international agreements to which Erdoğan referred in his message.
Greek newspaper Demokratia carried the story with the headline “Erdoğan provokes” and said, “Erdoğan has shown his true colors once again. He calls Greek Muslims Turks and tries to appear as their benefactor.”
Etnos newspaper said, “Erdoğan’s government is very interested in creating a minority issue in Thrace, and they are very good at it.”
Official Greek numbers say around 49,000 ethnic Turks live in Thrace, while western Thrace culture and education associations put the number at around 150,000.
Efforts of Western-Thrace Turks in Thessaloniki remain unsuccessful, mosque pledge not kept September 6, 2012Posted by Yilan in Human rights, Human rights abuses, Thrace, Turkey, Yunanistan.
Tags: Bati Trakya, mosque, Selanik, Solun, Thessaloniki, turks, Western Thrace
add a comment
Halit Habipoğlu: Why is the approval of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs needed for a request that comes from the Greek citizens?
The Greek Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to the request of Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris with regard to the opening of the New Mosque in Thessaloniki during the holly month Ramadan, which has been closed for worship since 1924.
According the to the news of daily Hürriyet, Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki, applied to the Greek Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports for the opening for worship on special days of the New Mosque whose right of use the Thessaloniki Municipality possesses as from 2012. However, the Mayor of Thessaloniki stated for the opening for worship of the New Mosque, not only the approval Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports but also of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is needed.
On the other hand, the Western-Thrace Turks living in Thessaloniki request for the opening for worship during the Ramadan feast of the Alaca Imaret Mosque which is in the best physical state among the mosques in Thessaloniki. Speaking to the daily Gündem, Ferit İsmailoğlu, member of the Executive Board of the Macedonia-Thrace Muslims Education and Culture Association, noted during the meeting they had with Yannis Boutaris three months ago, the Mayor promised to provide the Alaca Imaret Mosque for worship during the Ramadan feast.
“It is not understandable that the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Istanbul has the saying in satisfying the regarding demand expressed for a long time by the Muslims who are all Greek citizens. Today, the confusion on this issue is the result of the exclusionary attitude adopted by the Greek Government towards the request that comes from the members of the minority although they are its own citizens.” said Halit Habipoğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe
Greek Golden Dawn attacks NGO’s office in Komotini September 5, 2012Posted by Yilan in Human rights, Human rights abuses, Turkey, Yunanistan.
Tags: General Consular Office of Turkey, Golden Dawn, Komotini
add a comment
Later on, however, angry at being not allowed to reach the consular office the crowd attacked with bottles the members of the Union of Turkish Youths, who were standing in front of the office.
Muslims Suffer Violent Attacks in Bulgaria June 20, 2011Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria, Human rights, Human rights abuses, Islam, Muslim, Turkey.
Tags: Bulgaria, Islam, Mulsims, Muslim hate crimes, turks