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UMD Taken Aback by Metropolitan Anthimos’ Threatening Statement

November 7, 2007

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Metropolitan Bishop Anthimos The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) condemns the recent statement made by Metropolitan Bishop Anthimos of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Thessaloniki, as reported by the Associated Press on November 5, 2007, calling for the "return" of portions of geographic Macedonia to Greece: "Macedonia is Greek... and parts of it that are missing should be returned." Most remarkably and, ironically, the Metropolitan’s statement comes at a time when Greece has been increasing the pitch of its unfounded (and politically motivated) claims of “irredentist propaganda” by Macedonia against Greece arising out of the so-called “name dispute” between the two nations. His statement is stunningly naive and irresponsible.

At a time of potential political upheaval in the Balkans, it is incumbent upon all public and quasi-public officials in the Balkans to maturely address issues in the region, including the Kosovo Question and the “name dispute.” A call for the partition of at least two other Balkan states by a major Greek Orthodox Church leader is simply unacceptable and certainly does not advance the “good and neighborly” relations that Greece claims that it wants with the Republic of Macedonia.

The Metropolitan’s comment are troubling not only to the Republic of Macedonia but, also, to Greece’s fellow EU and NATO member, Bulgaria -- as the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, and Bulgaria each hold only a portion of geographic Macedonia. The Metropolitan’s comment is contrary to the spirit of each of these organizations and to the principles that Greece and Bulgaria each swore to uphold when they joined them.

Finally, it is noteworthy that, unlike the Metropolitan, no religious leader from the Republic of Macedonia’s diverse religious communities (nor any member of the Government for that matter) has ever called for the “return” of those portions of geographic Macedonia that are not held by the Republic of Macedonia and, as one would expect, those religious leaders are more concerned with the spiritual well-being of their adherents than with the “name dispute.” The Metropolitan would be well-served to examine his conscience (particularly as a person of faith) in light of the genocidal acts and policies – including torture and forced assimilation targeted against Macedonians during the last 100 years -- by which Greece solidified its hold on a portion of geographic Macedonia.

Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora is an international nongovernmental and nonpartisan organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.

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For additional information, please contact Dijana Despodova Pajkovski at (202) 213-4441 or info@umdiaspora.org. For general information regarding the activities of UMD, please view our Web site at http://www.umdiaspora.org/

     
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