Article About Greek Television's Attack on Macedonian Priest Father Tsarknias

Father Tsarknias, a Macedonian Orthodox priest, is fighting to reintroduce the centuries old tradition of Macedonian religious services to members of Greece's oppressed Macedonian minority.

Source: Vinozhito/Rainbow Newsletter - Info Zora No. 7

Scenes of infinite beauty unfolded in the premier of Kostas Hardavellas' new TV show, whose official topic was the "self-proclaimed” Macedonians in Greece. However, speaking on behalf of the Macedonians was Father Nikodimos Tsarknias, rather than a spokesperson from one of their political or cultural agencies (Rainbow, Home of Macedonian Culture, etc.). As a result, the program focused on Father Tsarknias, his life and the reasons why he was defrocked by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Those supposedly representing Greek society on the program were individuals such as the New Democracy deputy of Serres, Evgenios Haitidis (known from the Bletsas case) and the colorful Father Tsakalos. The major revelation was the secret collaboration between the "self-proclaimed” Macedonian minority and the likewise "self-proclaimed” Turkish minority, with the blessings, naturally, of foreign secret services that daily propagate plans for the destabilization of the fatherland, Immortal Greece.

G.N.P.

"EXPRESS” p. 9, Wednesday 18.9.02
(Following is a review of Mr. Hardavellas' program)

HARDAVELLAS AND COMPANY
- By George N. Papadakis

The recent premier of Kostas Hardavellas' new TV show revealed, yet another time, the superficial - and hence dangerous - approach taken by virtually all television programs that have dealt in the past with the "nonexistent” Macedonian minority in Greece. This particular show clarified the reasons why a "leftist” television program would deal with such a sensitive issue. Its purpose, certainly, was not to present the real extent of problem, with respect for the particularities of both sides. This was visible to the naked eye from the composition of the panel summoned to "enlighten” the unsuspecting Greek viewer who, on the one hand, is not distinguished for his superior intellectual pursuits and, on the other, is convinced that he lives in a country where everybody is just like him. Thus the host called upon the following personalities to support the Greek Orthodox viewpoint:

· The colorful renegade-priest, Papa-Tsakalos, who is an almost daily guest on TV talk shows and is an authority on everything.

· The extreme rightwing deputy, Evgenios Haitis, who has made a name for himself solely for dragging into court anyone who dares to claim that Greeks have not always been the exclusive inhabitants of Greece or that minority languages are spoken on Greek soil (the Bletsas case).

· The former director of the Nation Secret Service, Kostas Tsimas (no further comment).

· The Panteo University professor, Nikos Sarris, who unsuccessfully attempted to give a veneer of scientific validity to what the others were saying.

On the other hand, the "nonexistent” Macedonian side was intentionally represented in a way that facilitated the disorientation of the discussion. Because, although no one doubts Father Tsarknias' efforts to gain recognition for the national Macedonian minority in Greece, everyone is familiar with the cleric's personal adventures with the Greek Orthodox Church and its (para)governmental mechanisms.

The result was a "discussion” - amidst shouting and incredible nationalistic debate - that sensationalized and inevitably revolved around Father Tsarknias' own story, based also on the recent article in "Sunday's Eleftherotypia” newspaper that pointedly referred to his intelligence activities. The icing on the cake was the appearance of a police car dispatched by the Athens Archbishopric to arrest Father Tsarknias on charges of usurping authority.

Naturally, after all this, there was very little talk about the real matter at hand. And when that did occur, the host and his guest panel disclosed the real reason for the program. These sleuths proceeded to the momentous discovery that members of the Macedonian minority maintain personal relations and collaborate with members of the Turkish minority in Thrace, while hidden behind the whole scene are the CIA, MIT, the FBI, Mossad and other secret services whose only objective is the destabilization of Greece. These connections were also the topic of a small portion of the program that was given over to a videotape of the views of present and former spokespersons for the movement for Macedonian national and cultural identity. At this point, rather than posing any serious questions about the present situation and the aims and prospects of these people, the only thing Mr. Hardavellas in essence presented was that the "nonexistent” Macedonians respect the right of self-definition and call "Turks” those whom the official Greek state insists on calling "Greek Muslims.”

Unfortunately, this program is not a unique example. A few months earlier, another program on state TV NET attempted to deal with the issue of linguistic minorities. While it did present some of the other languages spoken by small or mid-sized population groups, the discussion naturally centered on the Macedonian language. Once again the program was devoid of any meaningful dialogue (despite initial assurances to the contrary) and the topic was desperately squeezed into a brief amount of time. Consequently, the viewer came away with the conclusion that there is no such language except for a Bulgarian dialect. As for those who speak it, they are simply part of the folklore of Northern Greece.

While there are many such examples on television, there are, unfortunately, very few programs that attempt to present the topic in its proper light. Still, many people maintain that even these distorted or staged programs are preferable to a complete silence on the issue. This may be true, but there is something else at stake here. What journalist can feel okay with his conscience when he knows that he has not upheld even fundamental ethical guidelines and, consequently, has consciously led the public to an erroneous conclusion?