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Greek state news agency and media
distort State Department position on Macedonian language and ethnicity


October 23, 2006


Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) - Press Release

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) denounces a new example of directed journalism in the service of “national interests” by the Greek state Athens News Agency (ANA) that was willingly disseminated by several Greek media without checking the story despite its obviously irrational content. A State Department spokesperson answer to a Greek journalist, on 19 October, stating that the USA recognize states (including Macedonia with its constitutional name) and not languages or sub-national groups within states was distorted by ANA so as to present is as “U.S. State Department says it does not recognise ‘a Macedonian language’ or ethnicity.” Such a position would obviously be irrational a few days after the US State Department-headed delegation to the OSCE referred to a Macedonian minority in Greece. Nevertheless, this story was disseminated with utmost satisfaction by Greek media like the Athens-based information radio stations SKAI and Flash as well as the national daily “Eleftherotypia.” GHM appends the ANA story, the transcript of the related excerpt of the State Department briefing, and the related release of the Greek Member State Committee of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL).

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Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman

Washington, DC
October 19, 2006

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/74784.htm

QUESTION: Did you hear anything from Macedonia lately?

MR. CASEY: I haven't -- (laughter) -- but as you know and as Mr. Lambros well knows there was in fact a change in how the United States Government referred to Macedonia.

QUESTION: FYROM.

MR. CASEY: Yes, exactly.

QUESTION: In spite of -- (laughter).

MR. CASEY: Only as annotated in certain NATO documents.

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, since you mention that –

MR. CASEY: Actually, Mr. Lambros –

QUESTION: -- what is the position vis-a-vis to the name which is difference between Greece and Skopje in the FYROM government the name because it's very important since FYROM has applied to become a NATO member and also a member of the European Union with the support of the U.S. Government?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, as you know, the decision that the United States made a little while ago with how to refer to Macedonia is a decision that is reflective of U.S. policy. As we've always said, we look to the discussions at the UN between Macedonia and Greece to ultimately work out an agreement between them on the naming issue. That continues to be our policy.

QUESTION: That means also that you recognize also the existence of Macedonia language and ethnicity?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, it means we recognize Macedonia, the country, by its constitutional name. The United States Government does not recognize languages or other sort of sub-national groups like that as far as I know.

     
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