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MHRMI/AMHRC Press Release

MHRMI and AMHRC Call on Macedonia to Immediately Cease Name Negotiations

April 29, 2010

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Call me by my name Toronto, Canada and Melbourne, Australia (April 29, 2010) - In light of US Ambassador Philip Reeker's recent comments that "The [name] issue must be solved, because if not, a question mark is put on Macedonia's future", Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) and the Australian Macedonian Human Rights committee (AMHRC) reiterate their call for Macedonia to cease all negotiations with Greece over its name.

Mr. Reeker added, "The clock is ticking, it needs to be done right now, and we encourage both Macedonia and Greece to do this."

How can you ask a country to negotiate its own name?

The nonsensical name dispute was initiated by Greece in order to continue its policy of non-recognition and persecution of its large Macedonian minority. Former Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis admitted in 1995,

"My main aim was to convince the Republic (of Macedonia) to declare that there is no Slavomacedonian minority in Greece. This was the real key of our difference with Skopje".

Ironically, Greece claims exclusivity to the name Macedonia, but it was not until 1988 when Greece realized that independence for the Republic of Macedonia was imminent, that it renamed “Northern Greece” to the “Province of Macedonia.”

Consequently, Greece imposed an economic embargo that crippled Macedonia's economy in 1992, it vetoed Macedonia's entry into NATO in 2008, and it has continued its decades-old policy of eradication and forcible assimilation of its Macedonian minority.

However, NATO and the European Union allow its member-states to be handcuffed by Greece's xenophobic policies. Despite overwhelming support for Macedonia's NATO membership, Greece was permitted to compromise regional stability and use its veto power against Macedonia for one reason - the name dispute.

Instead of reprimanding Greece, the Western world insists on a "solution" to the name dispute. Would any other country negotiate its own name?

The name dispute is akin to the US state of Georgia demanding that the Republic of Georgia change its name or the Belgian province of Luxembourg demanding that Luxembourg change its name.

Furthermore, any proposals to change Macedonia’s international, bilateral, or constitutional name, or to add "qualifiers" such as “Democratic” or “Northern", would change Macedonia’s identity everywhere and are completely unacceptable.

How can the European Union justify the violation of its own principles by asking Macedonia to change its name?

Greece is the only country that objects to Macedonia’s name. There is no need to find an international or bilateral "solution" based on one country's irrational and nationalistic fears. Unfortunately, by continuing the negotiations, Macedonia is telling the world that it is willing to compromise. Because of this, even countries that have recognized Macedonia would use any new name that is reached in a bilateral agreement. Macedonia can end the name dispute now and the calls for compromise by ending negotiations over its own name.

MHRMI and AMHRC call on:

1. Macedonia to stop the negotiations immediately and tell the international community that it is not willing to compromise its name and identity.
2. The rest of the international community, and EU in particular, to join the 127 countries that have recognized Macedonia, including 4/5 UN Security Council members, and to finally put an end to the irrational name dispute and immediately recognize Macedonia under its constitutional name.

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Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information, please visit
www.mhrmi.org, or contact MHRMI at 416-850-7125, or info@mhrmi.org.

Established in 1984 the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non governmental organisation that informs and advocates to governments, international institutions and broader communities about combating discrimination and promoting basic human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit www.macedonianhr.org.au, or contact AMHRC at macedonian_rights@hotmail.com or via +61 3 93298960.
 
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