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EFA - Rainbow's letter to Mr. Matthew Nimetz

March 3, 2008

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EFA - Rainbow Matthew Nimetz
Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN
United Nations, New York


Dear Mr Nimetz,

Re: Proposal of 19 February 2008

We write in relation to your latest proposal regarding the so-called “name” dispute between our country, Greece and the neighbouring Republic of Macedonia. Our position on this issue is well known and indeed it has been outlined to you on several occasions over the past few years. Therefore we shall not repeat ourselves here in relation to our basic position on this issue. Rather, we wish to take this opportunity to directly address aspects of your latest proposal, as reported in Greek newspaper To Vima last week. In particular, we feel obligated to comment on Paragraphs 3, 8 and 9 because they are directly connected to our identity, as ethnic Macedonians in Greece and as European citizens we care very much about the stability of the region and want the peaceful co-existence of all peoples (nations) in South Eastern Europe.

II - Paragraph 3 and Annex 1

We wish to comment on two names that you have listed in Annex 1, namely “Republic of Upper Macedonia” and “New Republic of Macedonia”.

In relation to “Upper Macedonia”, while the Greek government has indicated its willingness to agree to this name (as the Greek media has reported in the last few days), it should be pointed out that this name is inconsistent with its official position. If an “Upper Macedonia” exists then logically there is also a “Lower Macedonia.” Therefore having this in mind, how can the Greek government argue, among other things, that the name “Republic of Macedonia” has irredentist claims on northern Greece, but the name “Upper Macedonia” would not? It is clear that a name such as “Upper Macedonia” could encourage irredentism on BOTH sides, which therefore means that it is problematic.

As for the proposal “New Republic of Macedonia”, we must stress that every adjective related to the national-ethnic character of the state and its population directly or indirectly rejects ethnic Macedonian identity, both in respect to citizens of the Republic of Macedonia and members of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece. If ethnic Greeks who live in the historical territory known as “Macedonia” have the right to a “Greek-Macedonian” cultural identity (even though the majority of them arrived in the area in 1922-1928) then why do ethnic Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia (living also in a part of the historical territory known as “Macedonia”) not have the right to the historical and cultural past of the same area? If the prefix “New” is intended to distinguish between modern Macedonia and ancient Macedonia, then logically, the same should also apply to Greece’s name i.e. Greece should be called “New Greece” because modern Greece is not the same as ancient Greece. Furthermore, if the prefix “New” has the intention of distinguishing citizens of the Republic of Macedonia from citizens of Greece (ethnic Greeks), it should be mentioned that more than 700,000 orthodox ethnic Greeks were moved from Asia Minor to northern Greece between 1922 and 1928. Therefore a term such as “New Macedonians” might be an appropriate term to use to describe this group and clearly distinguish them from Macedonian citizens in the Republic of Macedonia.

II - Paragraph 9

It is proposed in this paragraph that the use of the term “Macedonian” be restricted to the economic sphere. We find the premise in this paragraph to be inconsistent with democratic principles. To restrict the use of the term “Macedonian” to the economic sphere is to deny the right to self-identification and would effectively mean, inter alia, the prohibition of term “Macedonian” to describe our language. As you would be aware, the denial of the existence of a distinct ethnic Macedonian identity has been the official policy of the Greek state for many decades and as members of the Macedonian minority of Greece, we have and continue to be victims of this deplorable policy. Therefore the proposal to deny the fundamental right to self-identification (the end result of what is proposed in paragraph 9) should be reviewed.

We would like to take the opportunity to once again remind you that there are a number of official Greek documents which long before 1945 defined “Macedonian” as something different to “Greek.” These include the primer in the Macedonian language, the “Abecedar”, printed in 1925 for the Macedonian minority of Greece and the 1920 Greek census document which explicitly notes the existence of the Macedonian language in Greece (both documents have been sent to you previously).

A PROPOSED ADDITION TO THE FINAL AGREEMENT

Having in mind our comments in relation to Section II, Paragraphs 9 of your proposal, we wish to make the following suggestion. A key component of a fair, just and viable solution to this “dispute” will be one which safeguards ethnic and cultural identity. Having this in mind, we strongly encourage the inclusion of two paragraphs in the final agreement along the lines of the following:

“The Greek state recognises the existence of a distinct ethnic Macedonian identity as it is expressed and has developed in the Republic of Macedonia and elsewhere as a separate ethnic identity different from the Greek-Macedonian cultural identity that developed in the Greek state after 1912-1913 when a part of Macedonia was incorporated into the Greek state.”

“The Republic of Macedonia recognises the existence of a separate and distinct Greek-Macedonian cultural identity as has developed in the Greek state after 1912-1913.”


Therefore, both Parties shall respect the right of self-identification with respect to an individual’s ethnic and cultural identity. The use of the prefixes before the word “Macedonian” clearly distinguishes between the two groups (i.e. ethnic Macedonian and Greek-Macedonian). Moreover, both terms are ones of self-identification which is of fundamental importance. No undesired names are being imposed and both identities are not being tampered with. As you will notice in our proposal, no side monopolises the use of the term “Macedonian” (in accordance with Section II, Paragraph 8 of your latest proposal).

Further to Section II, Paragraph 8 of your proposal, it is stated that no Party shall have exclusive rights to the name “Macedonia”. If this is to apply to the Republic of Macedonia, then surely it must also apply to Greece. Therefore, as it is proposed that the Republic of Macedonia be further defined by the addition of another prefix, then surely this would also apply need to apply to the Greek administrative regions which also utilise the name “Macedonia”. It may be useful then, as well as fair, to suggest that the Regions of West, Central and Eastern Macedonia be further defined through the addition of prefixes or suffixes. The same principle would also apply to names such as the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace (the name suggests that it is a Ministry for the whole of the historical territory of Macedonia which is inconsistent with Section II, Paragraph 8) and also to the international airport in Thessaloniki called “Makedonia” (Macedonia).

Furthermore, it may also be fair and useful to propose some new names for the geographical region of northern Greece, in order to make the distinction between this region and the Republic of Macedonia clearer, just as the Greek side has demanded from the Republic of Macedonia. Some suggestions:

1. Greek Geographical Region of Macedonia

2. Geographical Greek Macedonia

3. Greek Macedonia

4. Greek Historical Macedonia

5. Region of Greek Macedonia

Finally, let us also mention how important it is for peace and stability at this time as well as in the future and in particular when talking about the Macedonian issue, for there to be a recognition of a separate Macedonian identity as it is expressed by citizens of the Republic of Macedonia and the members of the ethnic Macedonian minorities in other Balkan countries (Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Kosovo). This is a very important point when taking into consideration that the denial of a Macedonian ethnic identity and the right of self-determination of the Macedonian people pushed the stronger Balkan states (Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia) in to a bloody conflict during the Balkan wars of 1912-1913. In other words, from our perspective the crucial issue on this so-called “name issue” is to eliminate any irredentist aspirations from these states by protecting the ethnic and national identity of the Macedonian people in the Republic of Macedonia and elsewhere.

Finally, if the issue of ethnic and cultural identity is to be part of a final agreement, as members of the ethnic Macedonian minority of Greece, we would insist on being consulted in relation to the above. Therefore, we again remain at your disposal for a consultative meeting at your convenience.

Yours sincerely

PAVLOS FILIPOV VOSKOPOULOS

Member of the Political Secretariat EFA – Rainbow, the Political party of the Macedonian minority in Greece.

Member of the Bureau of the European Free Alliance – European Political Party


CC:

Dora Bakoyannis, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Greece
Antonio Milososki, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Macedonia
Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, United States of America

 
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